Fightzone and Fight Academy – in association with Stephen Vaughan – will kick off 2023 in style with a top title fight on Feb 25th, live from Malta.
Headlining at the Hilton Hotel in St. Julians will be Connor Butler versus Craig Derbyshire contesting the Commonwealth Flyweight Title. This historic occasion – the first time ever that a Commonwealth belt will have been contested on the island of Malta – is a classic encounter between experienced pro and young starlet.
Liverpool’s Butler hasn’t put a glove wrong since turning over in 2018. The undefeated 24-year-old has raced to nine wins and a single draw (bout halted after a clash of heads) and has barely lost a round in those 10 outings. The baby-faced fighter has naturally though been in learning fights since his debut and now faces the first real test of his career against the well-travelled Derbyshire.
Doncaster’s Derbyshire is a tough man and a good fighter, with a very deceptive record. With eight wins and four draws from 40 bouts, anyone could be forgiven for thinking he was in the wrong sport but don’t be deceived. A pro since 2014, the 31-year-old has fought an array of top British fighters and – almost always – in the away corner. The Yorkshireman is in decent form and – with notice and something to fight for – is a real handful, evidenced by his split decision draw with British Champion Tommy Frank in April … a fight many ringsiders had him winning.
This fight will be pivotal to both men. The encounter will, likely, represent Craig’s last shot at a major title – while being the first chance for Butler to take a step into the boxing limelight and make a huge statement.
“What a great fight to start 2023,” said Fight Academy’s Steve Crump. “We’ve recently signed Connor and have high hopes for him, he’s from a great fighting city in Liverpool and I think he could follow in the footsteps of some of the other great little fighters that have come from there. This is a huge test for him though against a fighter we know very well and has the ability to upset our plans.”
“Craig showed what level he’s at when he pushed Tommy [Frank] all the way for the British title earlier this year,” agreed promoter, Dennis Hobson. “I don’t believe this opportunity has come too early for Connor, but you just never know. We believe in him and he has a great future in the sport, but we’ll know much more about him after this contest.”
Stephen Vaughan, stated: “I’m delighted to be working with Dennis and Steve on this show and to be making history by bringing a Commonwealth Title fight to Malta. This is going to be a fantastic fight for Maletese boxing fans and Fightzone viewers. Connor is a real talent, but this is a very tough test so early in his career, but I’m confident he’ll come through it.”