Frank Warren last week announced the “hard call” of convincing IBF bantamweight king Paul Butler to relinquish his belt.
Butler won the strap with a split decision victory over Stuart Hall last month, only his second fight at the weight since moving up from super-flyweight.
Immediately after the bout both Warren and Butler were coy over the Liverpudlian’s future, insisting they would sit down and assess his next move, but it has since become apparent the plan was always to move back down to 115lbs.
In an interview with the Liverpool Echo to announce the relinquishing of his belt, Butler said: “It was always going to be the case if I won it I’d have to return it and go back to down to super-flyweight.”
It appears those post-fight words were spoken to appease Hall and his promoter Dennis Hobson, who worked in conjunction with Warren to promote the bill in Newcastle.
But it proves how Hobson’s need for revenue and to create a crowd at the Metro Radio Arena cost Hall his coveted world crown.
The ex-champ claimed the belt with victory over Vusi Malinga in a war back in December 2013. Despite knocking his opponent over in round three, Hall was made to fight right until the bitter end and fought with huge swelling over his left eye in the closing rounds.
A hastily arranged first defence against Martin Ward was set for March 29 – dubbed ‘Clash of the Clans’ due to it being an all-North East title fight – but a disappointing spectacle added to poor crowd numbers. Sections of the arena were vacant and large areas of the crowd were in support of other promoter's boxers.
Supporters of Jon-Lewis Dickinson, Bradley Saunders and Kirk Goodings were all raucous throughout the night but Hall’s bout with Ward was much quieter. One suspects fans of other fighters had either already left or were not fussed who won; vocal support for both boxers was minimal at best.
It brutally exposed Hall’s lack of fan base and the trade-off of Warren helping to stage the show would be a title shot for Butler.
The Scouser stepped up to destroy Oreste Nieva in his only previous bantamweight clash before overcoming Hall three months later. Even during that fight, Butler’s sizeable three-figure following from Ellesmere Port created the atmosphere on fight night.
Warren’s shrewd promotional move ensured Butler would earn a shot and he grabbed it with both hands. If Butler’s win wasn’t enough, the veteran promoter can use Newcastle effectively to promote Bradley Saunders after he twice impressed by destroying opponents on the undercards.
Butler will go on to big things in whatever division he chooses, but Hall is left the loser. He can come again, but the belt he turned his life around for has been brutally dumped by another man.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
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