Undefeated in five fights, super-flyweight Connor Butler (4-0-1, 1KO) praised his talent-laden Everton Red Triangle gym and talked about his progression as a pro in a recent YouTube interview with BBTV.
During lockdown, the ‘Top Dog’ brought in ‘Bob’ as a sparring partner – a free-standing punchbag that played its part to keep his fitness levels up, but the 22-year-old Liverpudlian is pleased to be back in the gym again.
“All the lads are back in the gym and it’s great, it’s good to be back,” he enthused. “Just been working and ticking over with training and waiting for a fight date.”
Butler was one of the few fortunate ones to fight this year, shortly before lockdown on February 28, where he defeated one of Britain’s best journeymen, Brett Fidoe (13-64-5, 6KOs) 39-37 on points.
Like most fighters in the UK right now, he is desperate to get back to business again, and there is a hint that some good news could be in sight, he suggested, “Been told some news about potential fights coming up to the end of the year and next year, but just playing it by ear because of the circumstances that everyone’s under at the minute.
“Everyone is under tremendous pressure because of the COVID situation, so it’s just about staying fit, keeping my mind on the job and whatever comes my way I’ll take it with both hands.”
Since his debut in October 2018, aged just 20, Butler has beaten all the usual suspects so far. He was unfortunate against Steven Maguire (0-20-1) in September 2019 when an accidental head clash that left the visitor badly cut forced the fight to be cancelled, resulting in a technical draw for both men.
In his last fight, he stepped up a level against Fidoe, who had only been stopped once in over 70 bouts, and came through the tough test with flying colours.
“After every fight we sit down with Paul and analyse it,” Connor reflected. “We watch it back and look at the things that went well, but it’s funny, when I looked back to my first fight when I was really excited on my pro debut and jumping at the chance trying to get a knock out, and you can see how much you’ve grown from each fight, just within a couple of months between each one. It’s funny to see the way I was on my debut to my last fight, where I was so controlled and calm and focused on the job.
“I’ve grown as a pro, just learning on the job, but when you get in the ring it’s all about taking all of that you’ve done in the gym and just getting it right on the night. You learn every day in this sport but I’m still learning on fight nights to stay calm in the ring under pressure, it’s just a learning curve.
“With the lads in the gym, some of them have had more fights than me and you get little tips from them how to deal with certain situations and its really great to have as they’ve been there and done it.”
The 100-year-old Everton Red Triangle gym in Liverpool is home to some of the country’s brightest prospects – amateur and professional. Their link with Black Flash Promotions means they are able to host their own local events, which they schedule the dates a year in advance so every fighter can plan ahead and always know when their next fight date is. Due to the worldwide pandemic, four of those five dates for this year were cancelled.
Despite the setback, three of the septet trained by head coach Paul Stevenson – Andrew Cain (6-0, 6KOs), Nick Ball (13-0, 6KOs) and Brad Strand (4-0, 1KO) – signed contracts with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren and made their BT Sport debuts in July, with all three coming away with another win on their records.
Butler remarked, “We all started on small hall shows and you get people who talk about boxing and you mention the likes of Nick [Ball], Andrew [Cain] and Brad [Strand] and people are like ‘who are they?’ Just because they haven’t seen them on Sky Sports, so everyone’s like ‘oh, they might not be anyone’ sort of thing.
“The amount of talent in this gym, and if they actually came in and seen it for themselves, they’ll know there’s something good going on in here with Paul at the helm.
“All of us coming through, it’s going to be amazing to see in the next three to four years. You do your learning in your small hall shows, from there you just progress, and if you get to show what you’re about [on the big stage] then you take it with both hands.”
Coach Paul Stevenson guided Kevin Satchell to British, Commonwealth and European flyweight titles before he retired unbeaten in 2016. He now trains seven unbeaten prospects in his century-old boxing gym, as well as guiding the amateurs too.
Butler heaped praise upon the top trainer, “Even outside the gym, he’s always making sure everyone’s ok and what everyone’s been up to and things like that.
“I’ve never met a man in my life who knows more about boxing than Paul. He’s an amazing coach, he coaches us all individually on all the little things that we need to work on, we couldn’t be in a better place.”
Stevenson is also guiding amateur starlet Peter McGrail to Olympic glory – one of very few athletes to qualify for the Tokyo Games. He has medaled in every major tournament he has entered in, which includes a Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth gold medal. Last year, he collected bronze medals in both the European Games and World Championships.
Teammate Butler gave a glimpse into the why there’s such an exciting buzz around the 24-year-old, “He’s phenomenal! When you spar with Peter, it’s like you’re in there with someone who can read your mind, he’s got superpowers! Even his younger brother, Joseph – he’s some fighter, him.”
Although there’s been a hint of a fight date on the horizon, Butler doesn’t yet have anything concrete to go on, he said, “It’s the sport that we’re – boxing. Some fighters don’t know when their next fight is, but it’s important to stay mentally strong, focused and determined, just knowing that somewhere down the line that chance is going to come. You just got to take it with both hands, you’ve always got to be ready, even when you haven’t got fights lined up – like myself – in the pipeline.
“I don’t know when my next fight is, but I know that when it is there I’m going to be ready for it because I’m taking over, I’m staying disciplined and I’m ready for it.”
The empathic youngster concluded with this message, “Just want to say I hope everyone’s well and staying safe and hopefully this word gets back to normal, the quicker the better.”
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