Paul Butler (15-0) is the new IBF champion after a point’s decision victory over Darlington’s Stuart Hall (16-2-2)
Six hundred scousers at the mid-way stage belted out “The title is coming home” to the tune of “Three lions on a shirt” and that is exactly where the IBF Bantamweight title is heading: Paul Butler’s home in Ellesmere Port.
From the opening bell it was evident that the reigning champion Stuart Hall held a huge size advantage over the challenger. Despite this the “Baby faced assassin” began the opening rounds in confident fashion, not only backing Hall up but bombarding the champion’s defence with a large volume of flurrying combinations. The Liverpool man combated Hall’s superior strength with high levels of movement around the ring, landing stinging body shots in the process.
As the fight developed into the middle rounds and both boxers’ energy levels drained, the reigning champion began to have his moments of glory. At this stage Hall showed the same determination which allowed him to lift the world title all those months ago against Vusi Malinga. The sixth round concluded with Butler appearing vulnerable on the ropes from the champion’s lunging attacks which were highlighted by the danger of his trademark straight right hand.
The closing rounds for both fighters proved to be frantic, as in reply to Hall’s stalking of the ring Butler decided to stand with his own ammunition as opposed to keeping on the move.
In the final stanza both fighters came out meaning business, exchanging brutal blows as a way to prove they deserved the new crown of IBF bantamweight world champion. The challenger stole the final few moments as he landed fast combinations, while Hall blocked most of the shots and shrugged suggesting the punches hadn’t had their desired effect.
Upon the final bell sounding, both fighters celebrated with their respective trainers after a closely fought competitive contest. Tension built in the arena as fans debated who had nicked the decision; the following announcement would confirm who the domestic talisman for the bantamweight division was.
Two judges scored it 117-111 and 115-113 in favour for the challenger, while one gave it to Stuart Hall, 115-113. What ensued was a mass celebration amongst the away supporters as Butler was confirmed as the new IBF Bantamweight champion. Now mandatory challenger Randy Caballero (21-0) awaits his own shot at world honours.
At the post fight press conference while remaining disappointed, Hall showed no sign of hanging up his gloves. The Darlington man with the fairy-tale story appeared eager to pursue the challenge of re-gaining the world title, even suggesting a rematch down the line with Butler.
While the result may mean that a world title isn’t present in the North East, Frank Warren ensured fans in the region that big time boxing isn’t going to disappear. Warren pointed to Bradley Saunders (10-0) as the North East’s new talisman and tipped him to be the next world champion from the region.
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