Paul Butler, the reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) bantamweight champion, has accepted the challenge of taking on unified titlist Naoya Inoue in Japan.
Inoue, who recently knocked out former World Boxing Council (WBC) titleholder Nonito Donaire, remained on the hunt to become the division’s undisputed champion with the super World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federations belts at hand as Butler remained the last hurdle.
Butler, 33, admitted that he had read a lot of comments which depicted him being the underdog in the match but the English champion won’t back down from a fight.
“He hits very hard but what’s the worst that can happen? He knocks me out. I’ve been stopped before and let me make it clear, I will be going into that fight believing I can win,” said Butler in an interview with Probellum. “I will be walking to the ring believing, as I always do, that I can win the fight and become the undisputed bantamweight champion of the world.”
Butler last saw action last April with a unanimous decision win against Filipino contender Jonas Sultan.
He first won the WBO interim title but the boxing sanctioning body elevated him to “full champion status” after John Riel Casimero got stripped of his belt last May 3.
Casimero, 32, had figured in numerous dilemmas with the use of sauna, which is prohibited under the medical guidelines of the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC), as the most recent one.
But the WBO ultimately made the decision based on Casimero being unable to contend for a mandatory title defense since winning the bantamweight belt against Zolani Tete last November 2019.
Sultan, in the process, served as a replacement when the BBBoC barred Casimero from fighting Butler.
Meanwhile, Butler, who holds a 34-2 record on top of 15 knockouts, has yet to return to the gym since fighting Sultan but said he’ll be needing at least 12 weeks to prepare.
“Hopefully, contact can continue between both teams,” added Butler. “Before the Donaire fight, Inoue’s team had put the feelers out, asking if I would take the fight and, if so, where would I want it? I’ve told them I want it and I want it in Japan. Hopefully, we can get this big fight.”