What inspired you to pursue Hardknocks?
I’ve worked in gyms since I was 16 years old and I always enjoyed meeting people that were just as avid about fitness as myself. I always wanted my own boxing gym, so when the opportunity came along, I was happy to jump at the chance. It’s more of a fitness centre than a boxing gym, with MMA, BJJ, Thai kickboxing, and boxing classes all thrown in. Every session is different in order to keep the body guessing!
Any boxers in particular that you idolised when growing up and/or when you first got involved with the sport?
Definitely Mike Tyson. I remember staying up late and watching most of his fights on Sky Sports. For me, he is the best heavyweight of all-time.
In terms of your boxing career, is there anything at any point you’ve come to regret?
Yes, I regret not starting earlier. I trained in karate for 15 years and was actually the British champion at one point! I also pursued other combat arts, such as kickboxing, but it was at the tender age of 24 that I went to Melton ABC with Trevor Booth. After just 12 amateur fights, I turned professional at 26.
Having signed up with Carl Greaves’ stable, are you anticipating a big year ahead?
I’m looking forward to the year ahead. My career starting going a bit stale, taking short notice fights all over Europe, so it was time for a change. I felt that the best move was to sign for Carl. He’s local, he’s been there and done it all himself as a fighter, and is doing well now as a promoter. The plan from here-on is to get some low-key wins and move on from there.
As “the opponent”, you’ve always been at a disadvantage in terms of how long you actually get to prepare for a fight. Are you looking forward to being on a level playing field?
I don’t see myself as a journeyman since none of my fights have been against any novices or kids making their debut. Although they’ve been at short notice, most of my bouts have been at European and World level. I have been in with some big names. Dereck Chisora, Jonathan Banks, Edmund Gerber, Paulo Vidoz, Albert Sosnowski, amongst others. I’ve boxed in Germany, Italy, Finland, Denmark, Poland, Switzerland, etc. The Banks fight was on a Klitchko bill in front of 61,000 people. How many fighters get to say they’ve had an occasion like that in their careers? Now that I’m getting notice, I think I’ll be a totally different fighter and not to be taken lightly, that’s for sure!
What’s the shortest notice you’ve ever had for a fight?
Big Larry Olubamiwo in Liverpool was just 24 hours notice for me, as was my fight with Vidoz. Due to the fact they aren’t disclosed, the public are oblivious to these kinds of details when they watch fights on tv, Youtube, etc.
Former cricket player Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff participated in a heavyweight contest recently. Do you applaud someone from another sport having a go or does it make a mockery of boxing?
I’d say it makes a mockery of boxing. Fair play to him for lacing the gloves, but it should have been for charity, not a mess on live tv.
With David Price vacating the British title looking a certainty, the domestic scene seems quite open. You could challenge for the British title in the future, although the likes of Dillian Whyte, Sam Sexton, Ian Lewison, and John McDermott will likely have similar ambitions. How do you rate the British heavyweight scene at the moment, as well as your own chances of being in contention?
It’s really exciting at the minute. All good, strong lads and it’s what the sport needs. As you can see from my record, I’ll take on anyone, so with the right fights from my main man Carl Greaves, who knows what can happen? I’ve actually been offered a fight with Dillian a couple of times, but for the last 5-6 fights I was training myself, so I would have got turned over!
As someone who competed in the first ever UK Prizefighter tournament and having reached the semi-final, what are your thoughts on the Prizefighter format? Do you believe it will be around for a while as a means for boxers to propel their careers?
Prizefighter was the best experience in my boxing career. I was actually a substitute for the next two heavyweight tournaments in the series, too. Matchroom really look after the fighters and I love the concept. Prizefighter represents a window of opportunity for unknown fighters in particular and so I definitely believe it will last for years.
Do you see yourself still being a part of boxing when you eventually hang up your gloves? If so, is that likely to be strictly coaching, or might you even be tempted to get into promoting?
Yes, definitely training since I have so much knowledge about the game, as well as fitness. With that in mind, I can see myself becoming a top trainer. I wouldn’t want a gym full of fighters, however, just one decent pro who I can concentrate all of my time and effort into. As for promoting, who knows, but after talking to Carl, I know it’s very hard work.
As someone who has been heavily involved in both, you have a unique perspective on the boxing vs MMA debates. Is boxing really “dying”? Can boxing and MMA co-exist to the point of both being able to thrive as mainstream sports in the long-term?
Boxing is still as good as it’s always been, although I do love watching MMA as well. Unless you train in MMA, you don’t get to appreciate the skill level, both when fighting on the ground and standing. In short though, yes, I definitely think there’s a massive market for both sports.
Any message for fans and/or critics?
Hopefully I can achieve more and inject some excitement into the heavyweight scene. Remember, the majority of my losses have come at short notice, so let’s see what I can do in the future. Renowned for his durability, Paul Butlin has been a stern test for rising stars in the division for several years. Now that he has the luxury of having time to prepare for fights, there may yet be more to come from what has already been a very respectable career in the sport. Although an opponent is yet to be announced, Paul’s next fight is scheduled to take place in March. Paul can be found on Twitter and enjoys interacting with boxingenthusiasts@Paul_butlin