Paul Butler believes that the nature of Naoya Inoue’s victory over Stephen Fulton has enhanced his own reputation.

Last July, Inoue, in a move up to junior featherweight, was expected to be presented with the toughest test of his career by Fulton. Instead, he stopped Fulton in eight rounds that were so one-sided that Inoue came to be widely considered the finest fighter in the world.

In his previous fight, Inoue had stopped Butler in the 11th round, and after defeating Fulton he stopped Marlon Tapales in 10 to become the undisputed junior featherweight champion. The latter win secured Inoue’s status as undisputed champion in a second weight division and further verified that, as with Emmanuel Rodriguez and Zolani Tete, Butler can only be considered to have lost to the elite.

“The way he took him out in good fashion – the jab to the body to bring the gap up to the head, and, boom, right hand over the top – was very clever of him,” said Butler, 35. “Very good of him, and it just shows that he’s carrying the power through the levels as well. It’s not just like he’s taking out the small boys. ‘Can he do it [at a higher weight]?’ And he’s proven it twice now.”

Butler will fight Norbelto Jimenez in Ellesmere Port Sports Village in Ellesmere Port on May 11, and hopes that victory will lift him back into contention to fight his division’s best.

“It’s an absolute solid division at the moment,” he said. “It’s full of solid world champions. [Jason] Moloney’s a solid fighter – proven that over and over again. Manny Rodriguez said he was retiring but still holds a belt. …”