It was a fight in which a loss could have severely damaged the rising career of the skillful Super Flyweight Paul Butler. Surprisingly, that outcome is exactly what it turned out to be. Liverpool’s Echo Arena was left in sheer disbelief by Zolani Tete, who put on a spellbinding boxing master class for eight rounds before he spectacularly knocked the highly touted Butler out with a powerful uppercut.
There were also wins on the bill tonight for Liverpudlians Jazza Dickens, Jack Catterall, Derry Matthews, Kevin Satchell, Thomas Stalker and for the promising Light Middleweight Liam Smith, who cruised to his first victory of 2015 by pummeling Robert Talarek in eight, one-sided rounds.
Still, it was the unsuspecting Tete who capped off a splendid evening in Liverpool by halting Paul Butler’s chances of creating history, stealing the headlines for himself, and deservedly so.
From the opening bell, the height and reach advantage of Tete was evident immediately, as the reigning champion peppered an eager Butler with his solid left jab.
There was some success for Butler in each of the next two rounds, but the jab was a constant thorn in his side. Tete’s strong jab meant that there was no safe distance for Butler to work, finding himself too close or even too far away at times to land his own flurries while being easily countered.
The former IBF Bantamweight champion was still struggling to disrupt the rhythm of the 26-year-old Tete, who was looking extremely comfortable within hostile territory.
In the fifth and sixth round, Butler began to judge the range slightly better, as he attempted to increase the tempo in a bid to unsettle his opponent. Meanwhile, Tete was fighting an excellent fight, clearly ahead on the scorecards going into the second half of the fight.
One could sense the worry in the corner of Butler in the next two sessions, but no one could anticipate what happened next. Tete fainted with his trustworthy jab, then landed a cracking left uppercut that completely buckled the Elsmere Port man who fell to the canvas instantly. Even though Butler bravely made it to his feet, the damage was well and truly done, leaving the referee with no option but to stop the contest.
Despite all the focus on Butler throughout the build up to the fight, it’s fair to say that Tete slipped in under the radar, causing an almighty upset to one of Britain’s brightest young stars. Whether Butler foolishly underestimated the reigning champion remains to be seen.
Tete was positive that he always knew he had the ability to knock Paul Butler out and will now set his sights on the most lucrative fights in the division.
“I knew he was a good fighter, but I knew I had the chance to knock him out,” said a confident Tete.
“He’s shorter than me and we knew he was going to come out smoking so we practiced the uppercut more and more. I want to look for unification fights now, I’m looking forward to a greater future.”
Paul Butler was gracious in defeat as he returned to pay his respect to the excellent champion. “He was very good, awkward and rangy, best man won on the night. He is a great champion and I’m sure he will go on and unify the division,” said a clearly heartbroken Butler.
A humble Tete stated that he wanted to dedicate this fight to his disabled mother who unfortunately only has one leg. The South African champion claimed that he told his promoter as well as his manager to donate his purse for the fight in a bid to buy his mother a new leg, which shows the type of man Tete is.
Looking ahead, the South African will most likely continue to globetrot around the world in spite of the circumstances, aspiring to capture another world crown, upsetting apple carts all over the world, which he should be highly commended for.
However, any concerns previously lingering regarding the authenticity of his skills, have now been undeniably eradicated. The evidence would suggest that the reigning IBF king is a genuine force at 115 pounds; therefore, he justifiably warrants his seat at the top table of the legitimate Super Flyweight champions who sit at the pinnacle of the division.
As for Butler though, the 26 year old will perhaps be unsure which direction he will go after his dreams of creating boxing history were dashed dramatically. One thing is almost certain, the skillful Brit will categorically come again. Fighters lose fights, it’s simply part of the business, but it is how they bounce back which is key.