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Talking Boxing

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February 15, 2017

Butler looking to serve up another world title

Paul Butler wants to regain a world title at bantamweight and has his eyes on Jamie McDonnell or Lee Haskins.

by Shaun Brown

Fitter, happier and stronger, Paul Butler is ready to launch a fresh assault on the bantamweight division in 2017.

2016 is behind him. It was a frustrating year that saw Butler change trainer, not once but twice, as well as failing to make the weight in a super flyweight world title eliminator. While he picked up three victories the Ellesmere Port fighter, under the tutelage of new coach Joe Gallagher , is looking and sounding a different man. A more confident one too.

Butler (23-1, 12 KOs) could return on promoter Frank Warren's April 8 show in Manchester that will feature Terry Flanagan v Petr Petrov, Liam Smith v Liam Williams as well as the pro debut of Nicola Adams. Butler's promoter is also working at getting the former IBF World bantamweight champion a crack at either their current holder Lee Haskins or WBA 'regular' champ Jamie McDonnell .

"I'm happy where I am, and (where I am) training," Butler, 28, told Talking Boxing.

"Happy with my weight, happy with everything really. I'm just looking forward to this year. I hope it's a massive year for me, and hopefully with the frustrations of last year, with my final eliminator falling through, moving trainers twice, we can push on this year and really have a big year."

And that big year coincides with one which is equally as massive for his promoter Frank Warren , who last month announced details of his TV deal with BT Sport. Having spoke to a few fighters in the Warren stable recently, it's clear that there is a renewed energy and positivity among the group. One that Butler shares, and one that he can't wait to be a part of.

"It's going to be massive. I don't quite think anyone realises how big it's going to be," Butler said.

"It's going to be huge. I think they've got more viewers than Sky Sports, so it is going to be massive. It's
something new. I'm looking forward to the journey."

After becoming world champion, Butler admitted it that it was "mad" but understandable how the likes of he and (former WBO super welterweight champion) Liam Smith wouldn't be noticed by the man on the street, but Matchroom fighters like Anthony Crolla and Scott Quigg would. Butler understands the bigger platform that Sky Sports once had to themselves, one that reached a bigger TV audience than Boxnation.

"Obviously, it was a bit frustrating at times," Butler admitted. 

"You'd get your average man in the street who'd know your Anthony Crollas, your Scott Quiggs because it was on Sky Sports. And then you'd say, 'Do you know Liam Smith or Paul Butler?' 'Oh, no. Never heard of them.' But we've both won world titles!

"But some people don't know that because you have to be a die hard boxing fan to have Boxnation. I'm lookng forward to boxing on BT. It's a new chapter and there should be some massive fights there for me as well."

Those massive fights will be planned for inside the busy Gallagher's Gym in Bolton. A beating heart of British boxing where The Smith Brothers, Scott Quigg, Anthony Crolla, Callum Johnson, Marcus Morrison, Hosea Burton and Scotty Cardle all apply themselves, with results normally concluding in title wins and title opportunities at the very least.

The move to Gallagher's came after Butler's split from long-time trainer Arnie Farnell, and then followed an eight-week trial with Oliver Harrison. Having achieved everything he could with Farnell, and telling Talking Boxing that he didn't feel entirely comfortable at Harrison's, a move was made after a fortnight's work with Joe Gallagher.

"I'd been with Arnie for five and a half years. Sometimes a change is good," Butler said.

"I'd gone from British champion to World champion. I just felt like I was going through the motions, sort of. I just felt like I needed to mix things up. (I) felt a little flat. That was it really. I felt like I needed a change and I did make the change.

"It was not easy to leave Oliver's, it's never easy to leave somewhere," he added.

"I came over to Joe's with the two-week trial that I had, I knew all the lads anyway from GB squads. I just
felt at home. The training here is probably the best training I've ever done. The swimming, the track work... it's the fittest I've ever felt. The boxing's dead technical. (Joe) always gets in good sparring. You can't knock the work Joe does. He really puts everything into his fighters and you can see that with the champions that he's had."

Butler was a British and Commonwealth super flyweight champion in just his 9th and 11th fights respectively before taking a punt on moving up bantamweight in his 16th professional contest to take on then IBF champion Stuart Hall . Having packed on some muscle for the 3lbs trip north in weight, Butler would then vacate the title after accomplishing his mission. Two fights later he would fall into the skiful traps of Zolani Tete when challenging for a second world title, but this time back down at 115lbs.

Nearly three years since that period, Butler says he feels comfortable now at bantamweight having only jumped up for that one fight against Hall.

"I think at the time when I won the world title I wasn't a bantamweight. I'd grew a bit of muscle to go up to that weight, and we did do it right but then we took that off because we only done it for one fight. So, we took it back off and I was fine with the weight for a bit and it just became harder and harder and harder.

"The (WBO) International fight (against Sebastian Sanchez) in March (last year) I struggled like mad to make that (weight). I failed the weight, got off the scales went and made it, got back on the scales, made it and I was literally bang on the ounce, on at 115lbs."

In June 2016, the writing was on the wall for Butler's future at super flyweight when he was scheduled to face Petchbarngborn Kokietgym in a WBO World title final eliminator. A moment to forget in the career of the 'Baby Faced Assassin'.

"At the weigh in for my final eliminator I was literally lying on my landing, my legs wouldn't move.," he recalled. "I tried to do a run, obviously it was well publicised I got in the sauna and I got fined for that by the British Boxing Board of Control.

"I literally tried everything. I didn't fail the weight through not trying. I did try, but it literally wouldn't come off. It was like sort of, you know when you jump out of the bed in the morning and you get a little bit dizzy? I was like that everytime I moved. I got out the car I'd be dizzy. I'd stand up off the couch I'd be dizzy. I literally had nothing left in me. For my own health, for my own good it was definitely time to move up a weight."

By the end of 2017 Butler doesn't just want to be a world champion once again, but he expects it. And the tantalising prospect of an all-British affair against Jamie McDonnell or Lee Haskins could lie in wait. Talking Boxing asked Butler for his thoughts on the two respective champions and who we would rather face.

"I'd prefer to box Jamie because he's got the better names on his record. He's been around, he's done it. He beat [Tomoki] Kameda twice away from home. He's beat some good kids. I'd call them out of the two the champion. He's done it. To me, in my eyes, Jamie McDonnell should be IBF champion because he was unfortunate to lose that. He should've been WBO, because he beat Kameda when he was WBO champion but the WBO wouldn't allow Kameda to defend his world title against a regular champion with the WBA so they stripped him. So, in my eyes he's WBO champion as well. He's beat good names and he's been unfortunate with a couple of belts. He holds the WBA regular title, they call it a world title so I'd happily box him for that.

"But even if it was Haskins I'd happily take it off him as well, because I think he was very fortunate the last time to get the decision over Stuart Hall. I watched it the first time, I thought maybe a draw. Then I watched it back and I thought how can you not give that to Stuart Hall? Maybe he started the first 4-5 rounds slow but I think if he dug down to the body a little bit more, drove them right hands straight into the pit I think he could've got him out of there. But Stuart Hall isn't a body puncher and that's where my shots would definitely come into play.

"Coming down the home straight I'd be driving them body shots in because his legs go down very early in a fight, and I think that's where the body shots would start telling. Obviously, from round one I'd be trying to get to the body, but once rounds 4, 5, 6, 7 come in I'd get my range and I'd be driving them in, and I'd fancy myself to stop Haskins."