This Saturday night in Dubai, former IBF bantamweight champ Paul Butler will face the biggest, toughest test of his entire career – that of beating John Riel Casimero to become a two-weight champ. Casimero, the reigning and defending WBO bantamweight champ, has seen off his last seven opponents, all but one of them by stoppage, and Casimero took out common opponent Zolani Tete as effectively as Tete took out Butler; if not more so.
It really does look like a mission impossible for Liverpool’s Butler. At age 33, Butler is no spring chicken (although he is only a year older than Casimero) and he has not looked too great in his most recent fights – mostly points wins over fighters who are no way near Casimero’s level. In his last fight against an elite operator, Butler was beaten by Emanuel Rodriguez, this back in May of 2018. Butler has won seven on the spin since then and he is now trained by Joe Gallagher. And Butler is going into the Casimero fight full of belief.
Casimero of The Philippines is currently 31-4(21) to Butler’s 33-2(15) and he is coming off that frustrating night’s work against a slick but on this occasion reluctant Guillermo Rigondeaux. But while that August performance will not have put fear in any bantamweight, Butler knows Casimero is better than he may have looked that night. Make no mistake, this is a massive ask for Butler, especially at this relatively late stage in his career. Never short on guts, desire or skill, Butler is nobody’s patsy, yet he really is going into the lion’s den here.
A win would instantly elevate Butler into the celebrated company of British warriors who were able to leave home and pull off the stunner of an away win: think Lloyd Honeyghan-Don Curry, Dennis Andries-Jeff Harding II, Tyson Fury-Wladimir Klitschko and more). But can Butler possibly get the win on Saturday? It seems to be too much to ask.
Casimero hits harder, he has beaten better opposition, and he is looking at massive fights with the likes of “Monster” Inoue. Yes, Casimero could be guilty of looking past Butler and he could be made to pay. But this scenario aside, it seems we will instead see a brave but overwhelmed Butler give it his best but go out on his shield in Saturday. Let’s see if Butler can prove people like me wrong. I hope he can.