Paul ‘Baby Faced Assasin’ Butler the Ellesmere Port star, who won the Senior ABA title in 2010, has racked up a perfect 6-0 record and will feature next in an eight-round contest as he moves towards his first title shot.
Boxing writer Glynn Evans talks to Butler about his background and career.
Division: Super Flyweight
Family background: I’m the youngest of four. I’ve an older brother and two older sisters. My brother started boxing but was involved in a bad car accident when he was seven so had to stop. I live in Ellesmere Port which is about nine miles from Chester and a 20 minute drive from Liverpool. I’ve a girlfriend but no kids yet.
Trade: I’m a full time boxer since I turned pro in 2010.
Nickname: ‘Baby Faced Assassin.’
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? Since the age of seven or eight I was absolutely football daft but would always sit and watch ‘Fight Night Live’ with me dad who’s boxing mad, on Friday and Saturday nights. Dad always used to go: ‘Don’t you fancy that son?’ I finally decided to give it a go and started at the Vauxhall Motors boxing gym when I was about ten.
What do you recall of your amateur career? I stayed at Vauxhall from starting at 10 until I turned pro after winning the ABAs at 21. I was coached by Peter ‘Macca’ Phelan who also brought through (ex British, Commonwealth and European bantam king) Paul Lloyd and (three time English ABA bantam champion) Nick McDonald. Nick beat ‘em all, Kevin Mitchell, Stephen Smith…. I had about 90 bouts and lost about 20 odd. I won the Junior ABAs, Junior Four Nations and the NACYPs once each and went in the senior ABAs four times, finally winning at 51KG (flyweight) in 2010. First year, when I was just 17, I lost in the fina to Khalid Yafai who’d just won the World Cadets. In 2008 and 2009 I los two close and controversial decisions to Tommy Stubbs of Oldham, once on a double countback, the other by a single point. Tom and me still have a lot of banter about those fights. Everybody says I was
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? I’d known for a while that the computer scoring of the amateurs weren’t for me. I liked to let the body shots go and they seldom registered. Also in the amateurs there was a lot of politics. I felt selection often came down to favouritism rather than who was best.
Tell us about your back up team: I’m managed and promoted by Frank Warren and coached by (Anthony) ‘Arnie’ Farnell. I approached him six weeks after winning the ABAs cos I was really impressed by how he’d got Frankie Gavin right for the pros; how
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I had a fortnight off after my last fight because I got a cut but I’m constantly in the gym. Monday to Friday, I train for an hour and a half to two hours at ‘Arnie’s’ gym. I train even longer if I’ve got a (fight) date. Six nights a week I run for an hour. I take Sunday off At the gym, I warm up with a bit of shadow and skipping, then loosen up my arms on a bag. I’ll do a dozen three and a half minute rounds with just 30 seconds rest on the pads, some sharp weights then finish with 1 minutes on the step climber before stretching out. Tuesdays and Thursdays I fit in a circuit I spar with kids like Nick McDonald, Scott Quigg, Gary Davies, Shinny Bayaar plus some heavier lads. That’s the part I like most. You get to put into practise the things you’ve been learning on the pads I generally love all training. I really look forward to it and, whenever I have to miss it, I sit around in a mood. That said, I really hate running without my ear phones in and the bags can get a bit boring and repetitive.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m definitely more a boxer but I’ve loads in the tank and I can ‘dig in’ and show a nasty side when it’s needed. I prefer to work off the jab and go downstairs. If you war, your career won’t last as long.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? I need the experience of a 10 round fight, maybe for an English title or against a tough European. I need to be asked a couple of questions but I know I’ll answer them.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? The amateurs was a little sprint. In the pros you get more time to pick shots and plant your feet. Some say the pace of the pros is slower but I try not to let it be. I’m really fit and always try to keep the pace up. Opponents expect me to blow out but I never do.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? That would be the Mexican (Braulia Avila) who beat me in that ‘Good Luck Beijing’ pre-Olympic tournament in Beijing in November 2007. I seldom watch opponents before I fight them but when I watched him he seemed slow and flat footed. I thought I was in for an easy night but it was anything but. He could make that little half step that always put him in range to let his shots go. He beat me 26-14. Class fighter.
All time favourite fighter: Marco Antonio Barrera. He could do everything; went to war with Morales then outclassed Naseem Hamed using his boxing skills. I met him recently. He came to a ‘do’ at our amateur club. All time favourite fight: Barrera-Morales I
What is your routine on fight day? I’ll get up between ten and eleven and just relax. If Liverpool (FC) are being televised, I’ll watch that with a mate or me girlfriend. Me Dad doesn’t like me doing it but I like to play a game of snooker. Dad says I need to be resting. I feel ready rather than nervous. I usually like to arrive at the venue a couple of hours before I’m scheduled to fight so I’ve plenty of time to get bandaged up and get focussed. I’m pretty relaxed and like to have a laugh, even though I know I’ve got a job to do.
What are your ambitions as a boxer? My main goal is to win the Lonsdale Belt outright. I’d like a British title shot this summer then, after a couple more years, take a look at world titles.
How do you relax? I like me sports; watching them on the tele or playing snooker. I still have a game of six-a-side on Astroturf on a Thursday – I play up front – and I’m a ‘fair weather’ golfer in the summer. I played off (a handicap of) six when I was only 16 but I’ve let it slip.
Football team: Liverpool. It’s pretty hard to get tickets but I went to Wembley for the Carling Cup Final in the Cardiff end. There were loads of Reds in there and a lot of fighting broke out when Liverpool scored so I decided not to celebrate our second goal!
Films/TV: I like films you have to try to work out, plus comedies. ‘Phone Booth’ (with Colin Farrell and Kiefer Sutherland) is one of my favourites. On TV, I like Celebrity Juice plus Only Fools and Horses.