Butler growth may be key against Hall, writes Daniel Herbert
Butler-hall II, Fielding-brophy, Briedis-perez and Medina-ward
REMATCHES in boxing usually happen pretty quickly, and produce a different result generally if one fighter came into the first bout injured or underprepared in some way. When a return happens over three years after the first, predicting the result can be tricky because so much will have changed.
However, that’s the situation this Saturday (September 30) when Paul Butler from Ellesmere Port fights old foe Stuart Hall in an eliminator for WBA bantamweight title on a Matchroom show at the Echo Arena, Liverpool. (Sky Sports televise).
It was nearly 40 months ago when Butler outpointed Hall on a split decision to take Hall’s IBF 118lbs title in Newcastle. Butler started fast and survived a Hall rally to win on scores of 117-111, 115-113, 113-115.
What’s changed? Well, each has a new trainer, with Butler moving from Anthony Farnell to Joe Gallagher and Hall joining Max Mccracken in Birmingham.
Paul also switched promoters from Frank Warren to Matchroom and now feels much stronger at the weight, given the first Hall fight was only his second at 118lbs after moving up from super-fly.
“It was man versus boy last time and I pinched the title off him,” said Butler. “Now it’s man versus man – I’m a fullyfledged bantamweight now.”
Indeed, a few months after dethroning hall, he moved back down to 115lbs and was stopped in eight rounds by South Africa’s Zolani Tete - which remains his only defeat.
He’s won all seven since then and is feeling confident: “I don’t believe Stuart has gone anywhere since the first fight and I’m learning every day under Joe. I’ve come on leaps and bounds.
“There’s light at the tunnel, it’s down to me now. Hall is in the way but I believe I’ll deal with him and then we’ll move onward and upwards.”
Saturday’s winner will be in line
to challenge WBA secondary titlist Jamie Mcdonnell - who must first accommodate Liberio Solis - and for his part Hall is confident despite his advanced age (for a little man) of 37.
“My camp has gone brilliantly, I couldn’t ask for better preparation,” he said. “I’m training with the Yafai brothers, Kal and Gamal, who are world-class fighters.
“People go on about my age but I’m sparring people 10 years younger than me and giving them hell. They are all praising me, saying how I’m firing.
“The last time I fought Paul, maybe he got in my head a little bit. I let him do what he wanted for the first four or five rounds. First and foremost I’m going to demolish Butler, then I can look to leave this sport on a high against Mcdonnell.”
Hall has won five of seven since the first Butler fight, dropping verdicts to Randy Caballero and Lee Haskins in title bouts. At his age, and at a lofty 5ft 8ins (2ins more than Butler), he must struggle to make bantam but since he started to take boxing seriously after early-career partying he’s always proved fit and determined in a ring.
As before, that may not be enough. Butler is a good mover who punches in fast combinations and has a sound defence too. The pick is for Butler to survive moments of pressure to win a hard-fought decision.
Another intriguing 12-rounder on a cracking show brings together local Rocky Fielding and Scot David Brophy with the former’s British and the latter’s Commonwealth supermiddleweight belts on the line.
Fielding, 30, is 24-1 (13) with his sole setback a one-round demolition by crosstown rival Callum Smith. He held the Commonwealth 168lbs belt several years ago, losing it in when he came in overweight against Charles Adamu (he won on points), and earned the British crown with a split decision over John Ryder in April.
Brophy, from Caldercruix, is 27 and boasts a 19-1-1 (3) record. Last year a big step up brought four-round KO defeat by George Groves, but in March the Scot travelled to Australia to wrest the Commonwealth belt with a seventhround stoppage of unbeaten Zac Dunn.
That’s outstanding form, but on home turf the Jamie Moore-trained Fielding can edge a close win on points.
There’s a good local derby in the shape of Birkenhead’s Sean Dodd defending his Commonwealth lightweight title against Liverpool’s Tom Stalker. Southpaw Stalker is 3ins taller at 5ft 10ins but Dodd drags opponents into a brawl and outworks them. Sean can take a thriller on points.
Two months after folding in seven rounds against Josh Taylor, Hackney puncher Ohara Davies gets a chance to redeem his reputation when he meets unbeaten local Tom Farrell over 10 at super-lightweight.
THE VERDICT Four title bouts that could all go either way make this a well-matched show.
PLAY IT AGAIN, FELLAS: Hall [right] insists he’ll be the better fighter this time
THE OPENER: A quality scrap is edged by Butler [right] in 2014