WBO bantamweight champion Paul ‘The Baby Faced Assassin’ Butler 34-2 (15) knows he will have his hands full when he takes on WBC, WBC and IBF 118-pound Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue 23-0 (20) at Ariake Arena in Koto-Ku in Tokyo, Japan on December 13.
The 34-year-old Butler won the vacant interim WBO title in April with a 12-round decision against late replacement Jonas Sultan. Originally opponent John Riel Casimero 31-4 (21) was forced to withdraw after he was caught using a sauna to cut weight, a breach of the rules under the British Boxing Board of Control. The WBO subsequently stripped Casimero of his title and elevated Butler to full champion.
Inoue, 29, is in his prime and widely considered the best boxer on the planet pound-for-pound. Not only is the three-weight world champion undefeated, he has rarely been troubled by his opponents.
It is a steep hill to climb, but a challenge that Butler says he is ready for.
“It is the toughest task in boxing,” Butler admitted to the Liverpool Echo. “I have said it to everyone. My dad said it to me about six or seven weeks ago. This is the toughest task in boxing.
“You look around at the divisions, there are question marks over everyone in terms of who is the best, but Inoue stands out in the bantamweight division.
“I don’t think anyone out there is saying so and so will beat Inoue at bantamweight. It is the toughest task in boxing, but it is something that I have signed up for.
“I am looking forward to it. People say you are mad, but listen, mad is what I want. There is no other way of being an undisputed champion than facing Inoue.”
Butler has been training at his Bolton gym under the guidance of his coach Joe Gallagher.
“Prep has gone really good. I’m in a good place. It is probably 10 weeks since we have been grafting and training hard,” Butler said.
“It is probably the best place I have been in, both physically and mentally. I’m enjoying everything. I wake up with a smile on my face when I am going to the gym.”