Paul Butler breathed a sigh of relief once weight was read aloud.
It wasn’t that the former bantamweight titlist was fearful of missing the mark. The exhale was the acknowledgement that he has a fight to look forward to following a week of turmoil which saw his bid versus WBO bantamweight titleholder fall by the wayside for the second time in four months.
Friday’s main event in Liverpool instead pits Butler (33-2, 15KOs) against Philippines’ Jonas Sultan (18-5, 11KOs), Casimero’s countryman and former ring rival who was the designated standby opponent for the show.
Both boxers made weight for the scheduled 12-round interim WBO bantamweight title fight, which will air live on Probellum’s website from M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool. Butler weighed 117.8 pounds, while Sultan was 117.6 pounds.
Butler was previously due to face Casimero last December 11 in Dubai. The fight fell through just prior to the weigh-in, when Casimero was hospitalized after suffering from gastritis. The three-division and reigning bantamweight titlist had to provide medical proof to the WBO to avoid being stripped for failure to satisfy his mandatory title defense obligation.
The ruling also came with the order for Casimero-Butler to take place no later than April 30. A deal was reached to relocate the fight to this Friday’s show in Liverpool. However, video evidence surfaced of Casimero (31-4, 21KOs) using a sauna, which is strictly prohibited in close proximity of any fight in the United Kingdom. The video somehow made its way to the BBBofC, who immediately ruled that the Filipino was barred from fighting this weekend.
Sultan—who owns a 2017 win over Casimero in a non-title fight—was available on standby, having went through a full training camp despite not having an opponent scheduled. The 31-year-old Filipino from Cebu—who fights for MP Promotions, Casimero’s estranged promoter—is coming off an upset points win over previously unbeaten rising prospect Carlos Caballero last October 30 in New York City.
Butler has won seven in a row since a failed bid to become a two-time bantamweight titlist following a twelve-round loss to Puerto Rico’s Emmanuel Rodriguez in their May 2018 IBF title fight. The 33-year-old from Ellesmere Port briefly held the IBF bantamweight title following a June 2014 win over Stuart Hall, immediately vacating to drop down in weight for a bid at a junior bantamweight title which resulted in his first career loss— an eighth-round knockout of Zolani Tete in March 2015.
While the vacant interim WBO title remains at stake for Friday’s main event, an upgrade could come depending on the WBO’s review of and final ruling on Casimero’s title status which is expected before close of business Thursday.
Below are the weights for the rest of the undercard.
Sam Maxwell (16-0, 11KOs), Liverpool, 138.8 pounds vs. Alejandro Menenes (15-5, 8KOs), Tecamac, Mexico, 139.2 pounds—12 rounds, junior welterweight
Jazza Dickens (30-4, 11KOs), Liverpool, 126 pounds vs. Andoni Gago (25-4-4, 7KOs), Bilbao, Spain, 125.2 pounds—10 rounds, featherweight
Peter McGrail (3-0, 2KOs), Liverpool, 124.4 pounds vs. Uriel Lopez (15-17-1, 7KOs), Mexico City, 124.2 pounds—6 rounds, featherweight
Rocky Fielding (29-2, 17KOs), Dubai via Liverpool, 175.4 pounds vs. Timo Laine (30-17, 12KOs), Helsinki, Finland, 171.4 pounds—10 rounds, light heavyweight
William Cawley (1-0, 0KOs), Oldham, Lancashire, 119.6 pounds vs. Marius Vysniauskas (2-12, 1KO), Panevezys, Lithuania,117.6 pounds—4 rounds, bantamweight
Harry Kinsella (pro debut), UK,130 pounds vs. Cristian Narvaez (16-39-6, 1KO), Ciudad Sandino, Nicaragua, 131 pounds—4 rounds, junior lightweight
Steven Cairns (2-0, 1KO), Cork, Ireland, 133 pounds vs. Jose Hernandez (4-41-1, 3KOs), La Concepcion, Nicaragua, 131 pounds—4 rounds, junior lightweight
Blane Hyland (5-1, 0KOs), Liverpool, 118 pounds vs. Stephen Jackson (1-15, 1KO), Manchester, 117 pounds—6 rounds, bantamweight
Joe McGrail (2-0, 1KO), Liverpool, 122 pounds vs. Mohammed Al warith (0-2, 0KO), Yemen, 121.6 pounds—4 rounds, junior featherweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox