WBO Interim Bantamweight Title: Paul Butler VS Jonas Sultan
Friday, April 22 – M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool
Well. This is all a little bit of a mess.
The fight here was supposed to see Paul Butler taking on John Riel Casimero for the WBO bantamweight belt. This was the case up until a couple of days ago when the Filipino fighter was thrown out of the bout after violating the British Boxing Board of Control medical guidelines.
Casimero used a sauna to cut the final amount of weight he needed to get below the 118-pound limit for the fight. This is a pretty standard procedure in most parts of the world but it is well known for being illegal in Great Britain because of associated health risks. This is the second time that Casimero has failed to make it to this fight – it was originally scheduled for December – and there is a real chance he could be stripped of the belt.
With an event already sold out in Liverpool, a replacement had to be drafted in. That replacement is Jonas Sultan and the fight is officially for the interim version of the WBO bantamweight belt. This could easily be upgraded to the full version if the WBO decides the belt is to be stripped from Casimero for his rule violation.
Butler will have to change his mindset and stay focused given he has had no time at all to prep for Sultan. The British fighter isn’t a heavy puncher – he has just 15 knockouts in his 33 wins – but he does a great job of outworking his opponent to win on points. Sultan has a better knockout record – 11 from 18 wins – but he has lost five times to just two defeats for Butler as a pro. I like the British fighter to win this on points in one that is for the purists as opposed to those who like their boxing to be over with one punch.
The undercard sees a welcome return to action for hometown boy Jazza Dickens as he looks to rebuild to another featherweight world title opportunity. Dickens is in the ring for the first time since losing a bout for the IBF featherweight strap last summer against Kid Galahad. His comeback starts with a matchup against a former European Champion in Andoni Gago. Gago has some pedigree, but I like the favorite to do more than enough to win here and make the hometown fans happy.
Another Scouser on the card is Peter McGrail. He is the heavy favorite to beat Victor Uriel Lopez in their super bantamweight contest. McGrail was 41-14 as an amateur and has won both of his pro fights to date. He is a 25-year-old fight of whom much is expected and it would be a massive, massive upset if journeyman Mexican Lopez is able to overcome McGrail here.
This is a card that is very heavy on favorites. Most are odds on and I would be stunned if any are upset.