Paul Butler Aims To Make History
By Olly Campbell: Later this evening in the city of Liverpool, the roof will come off of the Echo Arena when Ellsemere Port’s Baby Faced Assassin, Paul Butler, attempts to make history by becoming the first British fighter in 119 years to win a second world title by moving DOWN in weight to a lighter division.
He will square off against big punching South African Zolani Tete, who is coming to the UK to make the first defense of the IBF super-flyweight title he won on the road last July in unbeaten Japanese fighter Teiru Kinoshita’s back yard.
Undefeated Butler, (17-0, 8ko) was himself crowned IBF bantamweight champion last June when he beat domestic rival Stuart Hall by decision in a close, action packed affair, but quickly made the decision to drop back down in weight and once again campaign at his more naturally suited super-flyweight.
The lower weight classes are often some of the most action packed in boxing, yet sadly get over looked by many British fans, largely due to the fact that we are woefully under-represented there. All in all only 21 British fighters ply there trade at either fly or super flyweight and we have nobody at all below that.
The lower divisions are traditionally filled with fighters from places like Mexico, Japan and Argentina. In fact, Paul Butler is the only world ranked EUROPEAN at super-flyweight and Liverpudlian talent Kevin Satchell is the only other noted name, holding a ranking with both the WBO and IBF at flyweight.
To give you an idea of the talent surrounding Butler at 115lbs, breakout star Naoya Inoue from Japan, Argentina’s Omar Narvaez and heralded Mexican Carlos Cuadras are all names he could find himself sharing a ring with in the future.
Yet first he must get past the confident Tete, who at yesterday’s weigh-in was making all the right noises about winning in style. He walks in with a respectable slate of (19-3) with 16 big finishes. His 73% knockout ratio is among the best in the division and it is more than evident he brings power with him that Butler must respect. He has also been on the road successfully before so is unlikely to be ruffled by the partisan, pro-Butler crowd.
Of the 3 defeats on his record, two were close decision losses. The only knockout loss came against former team mate and training partner Moruti Mthalane, a fighter who evidently knew him and his style well. It was also down at flyweight and was in his first crack at the IBF title after just 13 fights. To add some perspective, Mthalane has to this day only lost twice, one of those being to the world class Filipino Flash, Nonito Donaire.
What Tete will also have going into this contest is a considerable reach advantage. Early reports of his freakish 5ft 9″ stature seem to have been slightly exaggerated as he looked smaller than expected stood next to Butler yesterday, but crucially he is STILL the bigger man.
The powerful southpaw is now also fully recovered from the hand injury that postponed their first scheduled meeting last October. One thing he has promised is fireworks and a big win later tonight.
Despite this, the likeable Butler is one of the best and most exciting young talents we have in this country. A leading light of promoter Frank Warrens next generation of young British starlets, he comes into this fight extremely confident that the history making opportunity before him is his for the taking. He is already the record holder for being the quickest English fighter to capture world honors in the fewest amount of fights and is full of self belief in terms of inking his name into the record books for the second time tonight.
Paul Butler has exceptional speed and movement, as evidenced when he fought Stuey Hall, and will be fully reliant on those skills later if he is to get inside the jab of Tete and go to work. He should be looking to land scoring shots inside range before going missing and bagging the early rounds. This should be key to frustrating the South African and forcing him out of his own comfort zone. For me, a fast start tonight is crucial as is a flawless game plan, something the Butler camp will have by now, honed down to perfection. The other thing Butler is drawing confidence from is that he has won a world belt in the division above Tete, who himself was knocked out in the division below. A small psychological advantage, but an advantage nonetheless.
When he walks out tonight in front of the capacity crowd, Paul Butler will receive a hero’s welcome and I truly believe the watching public will be witnessing one of the sharpest talents that British boxing has to offer. His electric hand speed and fluidity of movement are going to be the deciding factors in this fight and I truly believe Butler has all the right tools to negate the usual work of the African danger man.
Expect a history making night from “Baby Face” as he “Assassinates” Zolani Tete via a wide points decision and picks up the IBF super-flyweight belt, crowning the UK’s newest world champion.
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