PAUL BUTLER IS A LITTLE FELLOW but tonight he aims to become one of boxing's big shots. With luck and the adroit application of his blistering combination punching, the mini Merseysider from Ellesmere Port will step into the sport's history books as the first Briton in over a century to drop down a weight division and win a second world title.

Paul Butler

They call the former IBF World Bantamweight champion, who challenges South Africa's IBF World Super-Flyweight champion Zolani Tete at the Liverpool Echo Arena, the Baby-Faced Assassin. With good reason.

Outside the ring he among the nicest young men you could meet, but once inside it he becomes a merchant of menace, one of the most spiteful sluggers around. He looks to do serious damage with every punch he throws, a bit like a skinny, sawn-off Golovkin.

Several British greats have gone up through the weights including Duke McKenzie, David Haye, Ricky Hatton, Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank. But only heavyweight Bob Fitzsimmons has achieved the feat of dropping weights, from heavyweight to light-heavyweight to become a dual world champion, which he accomplished back in San Francisco in 1903.

The New Zealand-born 'Ruby Robert,' as he was known, was actually ultimately world champion at three weights, middle, heavy and light-heavy. This may give the ambitious Butler another target to aim for in the future.

Zolani Tete v Paul Butler press weigh-in

He acquired a world title in fewer fights (16) than any other Englishman. For me, He is one of our best young fighters pound-for-pound (and there's not much of him at around eight stone).

If he was a heavyweight we'd be raving about him as he's that good. After tonight, I believe we will be, anyway, though he has no easy job against a fellow 26-year-old who is a tall, powerful southpaw. Not many super-flyweights have a big knockout ratio, but Tete's nailed 16 out of 19, so he's dangerous.

But there are no super-flies on Butler, who heads a bill packed with other Merseyside stars Liam Smith, Derry Mathews, Kevin Satchell, Jazza Dickens, plus Lancashire hot-shot Jack Catterall in big title action televised live by BoxNation.

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Amir Khan can come in from the cold. Britain's former World Light-Welterweight champion seemed to have been frozen out when twice jilted as an opponent by Floyd Mayweather Jr. He will be back in business - big business - to meet the winner of the upcoming Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao mega-fight.

Amir Khan

This is why there has been such a lukewarm response from Khan to suggestions that he will be in a summer showdown with Britain's new IBF World Welterweight champion Kell Brook. It won't happen.

Instead Khan now knows he has bigger fighting-fish to fry and may take a warm up bout on the May 2 bill in preparation for his dream date with either Mayweather or one-time spar-mate Pacquiao. With the provison, of course, that there is no autumn return match for the prodfigious pair.

Both have intimated he is next in line - and it is an engagement that Khan will relish with both of boxing's Sunshine Boys, already well into their twilight years, now about to knock bits off each other in Las Vegas. He believes he is capable of beating either, and some agree.

Khan is still a big draw here. The audience for ITV's return to boxing with the Carl Frampton-Chris Avalos world title fight in Belfast peaked at two million. When ITV last screened a Khan fight, six and a half million tuned in, even later at night.

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Imagine Chelsea and Spurs arguing the toss almost up to the kick off over who should be the referee and his assistants in last weekend's Capital One Cup Final at Wembley, with one team refusing to play unless the officials of their choice were selected.

Dmitry Chudinov v Chris Eubank Jr

Yet such was the comparable scenario backstage at London's O2 on Saturday night when Chris Eubank Jnr's fight with Russian Dmitry Chudinov for the latter's World Boxing Association Interim World Middleweight title was on the brink of being called off before it started.

Punters have been asking me what the hell was going on behind the scenes, because it was clear from the buzz at ringside and among the media that there as a major row.

The astonishing situation was this: The mutually agreed contract stated that there should be all neutral officials. This was what the Russians had insisted upon and the Eubanks were happy with it.

Consequently officials from Sweden, Poland, Finland and Panama appointed by the WBA had been flown in and were there ready to officiate. The British Boxing Board of Control wanted at least two officials - namely the referee and one judge - then to be British. 

Learning this the Russians dug their heels in and firmly said:"Nyet." No way. No neutral officials, no fight.

It developed into a sort of Mexican (or rather Russian) stand-off. It was a crazy, almost chaotic situation with heated words being exchanged in both languages!

Actually, it would have suited me as a promoter to have all British officials because I wouldn't have had to fork out expensive air fares and accommodation, which came to a good few bob.

Chris Eubank Jr & Chris Eubank Sr

What really worried me as well as the police and security people at the time was what might happen had we had to tell the crowd there would be no fight.

It was a relief when, with the Russian camp ready to walk out, we managed to contact the general secretary, Robert Smith, who was at the  Frampton-Avalos  fight in Belfast. The Board agreed it could go ahead with the neutral ref and judges, thus averting what could have been an ugly situation.

Having said all this I felt that the Swedish referee allowed the Eubank fight to linger far too long before stopping the badly battered Chudinov in the final round. A British ref almost certainly would have stepped in sooner, and saved him unnecessary punishment.

Eubank gave his most impressive performance to date in acquiring the Interim belt and has set himself up nicely for an eventual re-match with Billy Joe Saunders. What a blockbuster that will be.

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Live, big fight action on BoxNation comes from two continents this Saturday with stars Zou Shiming and Keith Thurman.

Zou Shiming

Chinese sensation Shiming goes for the IBF World Flyweight title against champion Amnat Ruenroeng in just his seventh professional fight, at the Cotai Arena, Macao, China. Coverage starts at 12.30pm on Saturday.

Then later that night BoxNation delivers the first exciting Premier Boxing Champions card from the MGM Grand, Las Vegas that sees KO king Keith Thurman defend his WBA World Welterweight title against slick southpaw Robert Guerrero.

Coverage starts at 1.30am late Saturday night.

Keith Thurman

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