Former Heavyweight Contender Lionel Butler To Make Unlikely Comeback Tonight!

by James Slater - Remember 1990's heavyweight contender Lionel Butler, the man who fought such top names from the division as Riddick Bowe, Oliver McCall, Lennox Lewis and Chris Bryrd, and who got himself KO wins over former alphabelt champs Tony Tubbs and James "Bonecrusher" Smith? Well, tonight in Highland, California, after an absence of eight long years, the 42-year-old makes an unlikely return to the ring..

Butler's bout with unbeaten but untested 30-year-old heavyweight Fred Kassi will be one of the main events tonight due to original headliner George Foreman III pulling out of his third pro bout due to an undisclosed training injury (according to And it may be somewhat fitting that Butler's return to the ring will occur on a card that should have been headlined by a heavyweight named Foreman; the original "Big" George himself, of course, made a successful comeback after ten years out.

I'm not saying Butler will be able to go even a fraction as far as Foreman went in his amazing comeback, but the 31-15-1(25) puncher is going to give it a go. It's not clear what kind of shape Butler is in, or how long he has had this return to the ring in mind. Back in his best years when he was looked at as a dangerous hitter and was promoted by Don King, Butler's conditioning was, shall we say, average at best. It's hard to see how the man who weighed-in at the 282-pound mark in his last fight (a 2nd-round TKO loss at the hands of Andre Purlette way back in September of 2003) can possibly have got himself into anything resembling great shape for tonight's fight. Still we cannot judge "The Train" until we see him in the ring.

Today's heavyweight division is cluttered enough with ageing fighters who refuse to call it a day, instead searching for one more big fight, title chance or payday; and now Butler, whose last remotely meaningful win came against Smith in 1994, joins them. It will perhaps be at least somewhat interesting to see how the unbeaten Kassi, 12-0(6) - himself coming off a two year layoff - handles Butler. But in all probability, the best tonight's fight can hope for is to be looked at as a curiosity event, as opposed to a quality contest.

Does Butler need money badly? Perhaps. Will he come in at a weight less than 300-pounds? Let's hope so!

Of added note is the fact that tonight's card will take place at the San Manuel Indian Casino, and Butler-Kassi will fight for something called the San Manuel Championship. Fingers crossed nobody gets hurt.

Article posted on 10.09.2009

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