Bantamweight contender Emmanuel “Manny” Rodriguez and his team have landed safely and ready to face former world champion Paul “Baby Faced Assassin” Butler for the vacant IBF World Championship, this Saturday, May 5, at the O2 Arena in London.
Presented by Matchroom Boxing, Rodriguez (17-0, 12 KOs), of Puerto Rico, and Butler (26-1, 14 KOs), 29, of England, will meet in a 12-round supporting bout to the all-British rematch between former World Heavyweight Champions Tony Bellew (29-2-1, 19 KOs) and David Haye (28-3, 26 KOs).
Rodriguez almost had his very promising boxing career derailed for a time by an unfortunate car accident in which he burned 66% of his body. After a long rehab, he returned, and went on a, thus far, 17-fight tear through the professional ranks.
The 25-year-old was the mandatory contender to face former champion Ryan Burnett, who chose to relinquish his belts. This allowed for Butler to slide into the fight for the unclaimed belt.
29-year-old Butler previously held the IBF belt, but before defending it, elected to drop down in weight to face then-champion Zolani Tete… and was stopped in the eighth round. He has won nine fights since.
“It has been a long road to this fight, but I am ready to win my first world championship,” said Rodriguez. “Paul Butler is a good fighter, but nothing can stop me. I have worked too hard to get here. It doesn’t matter that we’re in his backyard. I’ve done everything right getting ready for this and I look forward to bringing the belt back to my beloved country of Puerto Rico.”
Rodriguez’ co-promoter, Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing, says a star will be born Saturday night.
“Manny has always been a superstar in the making. I am happy he is finally getting the chance to shine in front of a large audience, worldwide. I have no doubt he will win impressively and set himself up for several big showdowns in the near future.”