James Butler Deserves Ban From Boxing

By Kent Appel

24.11 - On Friday night after watching ten uneventful rounds in which super middleweight Richard Grant, in an upset, clearly outboxed the IBF number eight ranked fighter in the division, James Butler; I witnessed on live ESPN 2 television one of the most despicable acts I have ever seen in all of my years of watching sports. Grant walked over to Butler and thinking the fight was over (and it was), he patted Butler on the back in a sportsmanlike gesture to acknowledge, win or lose, a job well done. Butler then proceeded to "sucker punch" Grant with a tremendous bare handed right hand, one that he had been unable to land while Grant was defending himself during the bout; knocking Butler out cold; much to the horror of the live audience, the ESPN announcers, myself, and I am sure the rest of the television audience at home. This sort of behavior has no place in organized sports and Butler not only deserves to be banned for life from boxing; he deserves to be, as the ESPN announcers suggested, put in jail for assault. A large portion of the live audience; New York City police and firemen; agreed as they chanted, "take him away! "take him away!" This is ironic in that the evening was billed as a benefit to aid the victims of the September 11th tragedy. Butler could not have more dishonored the memory of the victims of the horrible terrorist attacks and the real heroes sitting in the audience if he had flown a plane into a building himself!

Is James Butler's behavior just an extension of the disrespect athletes in general have these days when "trash talking" instead of quiet confidence seems to be the norm? Is Butler's "sucker punch": the sign of things to come when the bad feelings apparent before an event carry on afterwards? I don't know enough about Butler or Grant to know if this is the case, but it does seem that athletes disrespect each other more and more currently. Such was the case before the recent heavyweight title fight which saw Lennox Lewis regain the title with a fourth round knockout over Hasim Rahman. Rahman before the fight had questioned Lewis' manhood and sexuality and Lewis seemed to put the issue to rest by knocking out Rahman with a great right hand. But does Lewis still harbor bad feelings for Rahman that may surface later?

Maybe the real answer lies in the fact that James Butler is just a "punk" and though it seems that all of the training and sacrifice needed in order to become a world class athlete should teach him some moral strength, maybe sometimes "we just can't take the punk out of the punk!" I hope at least Butler got some sort of sick self satisfaction that he is some sort of a tough guy because he ruined a career that showed at least some potential. I don't think he will ever get past this one huge mistake and I doubt if we will see James Butler in the ring anytime soon, if ever.

I hope the Butler incident doesn't give more ammunition to boxing's critics because the sport doesn't need another "black eye." I believe that most boxers are decent people who work hard to develop their skills and they deserve to be paid well for their efforts. I believe the James Butler's of the sport are few and far between.

Interview: James "The Harlem Hammer" Butler

Ike Enwereuzor

23.11 - Tonight's ESPN2 Friday Night Fights, at Roseland Ballroom in New York City will feature former Olympian Richard Grant (13-8) against James "The Harlem Hammer" Bulter (18-2).

Grant has a 4 round decision win over Butler in 1997. Therefore, this will be their second meeting. in the co-main, amateur star Brian Adams (14-2) will face Richard Kiley. Former Olympians Jermine taylor will take on Undra White while Clarence Vinson meets Jhovany Collado.

Butler speaks about his past and upcoming rematch battle with Richard Grant...

How long have you been preparing for your rematch with Richard Grant?
I've been training for 6 weeks

What's your impression of Richard Grant who has a win over you today?
He put a blemish in my record. I had to kill myself to make that weight. I'll prove to him this time that, that was a fluke. I haven't 100% for that fight. My energy level wasn't there. he never hurt me. He just came in with his head so I suffered cuts on both eyes. I'm 168 pounds now stronger than ever.

When did you start your amateur career?
I began in 1991.

I wanted to be something in the society so growing up I always wondered what I want to be. I use to get into street fights and hit people. I went to gym to learn boxing and that was it.

Your amateur accomplishments?
I was the 2 time New York Golden Gloves Champion 1992 and 1995. I won a a Bronze in 1995 Nationals.

Please, tell us about your pro debut fight?
Can remember much but I remember amateur fights before that. I went to puerto Rico, and knockout WBO champ Daniel Santos. I stopped Santoes and lost a controversial decision to current WBC super middle champ Byron Mitchel. Byron was a little stronger but I'll like to fight again now at professional to get my revenge.

What should fans exect tonight when you meet Grant the second time?
Don't blink because it may miss something or it can end very soon.

Your impression of Eric Lucas?
I have seen him fight one time, Good fighter. I just see him like I see other fighters in my weight class.

Anything else on the fight tonight?
Nope, I don't mean to be rude. I have to go.


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