Butcher waits for fortune
Lady luck hasn’t smiled on Iain Butcher. The Scottish flyweight (12-2, 4 KOs) has had a tough time over the last couple of years with inactivity and opponent pull-outs which have stalled a career that looked full of promise after he battled Liverpool's Kevin Satchell to the brink at the city's Echo Arena in July 2013.
In what was a tight-knit affair for Satchell's British and Commonwealth titles, it was the hometown favourite who emerged with his hand raised after the judges awarded a 115-113 (twice) and 115-114 unanimous decision. Many believed the Scot had done enough. Despite suffering his first loss, Butcher emerged with glowing praise after pushing the touted champion all the way.
Butcher sat patiently waiting for a Satchell rematch that never materialised. And, because of that, the Scot had to give up the opportunity to fight for the European title and remain in the EBU’s bad books for a year.
"I felt the fight with Kevin should've propelled [my career forward] from there," Butcher told Boxing Monthly. “I got myself into a position where I could've boxed for the European title and I had the fight [scheduled] against an Italian boy.
“When I got that fight, I was ordered to box Kevin again. I was put into the number one position and I pulled out of the European title for the rematch because it was a bigger fight for me and it was something I was very, very interested in taking again. But I got banned for a year for the European because of that and I just wish I'd never ever pulled out of the European title fight for the rematch.
“Since that happened, my career hasn't moved forward - if anything, my career went backwards in terms of rankings and where I could be in my career. There's nothing else I could've changed. I had to stay in that position to be at domestic level to get the British title because I'd been banned by the European governing body as I pulled out without a valid excuse. I'm just hoping now everything starts moving forward for myself.”
With the 112lbs Lonsdale belt vacant, Butcher has been scheduled by the British Boxing Board of Control to face Belfast’s Luke Wilton for the title for some time now. And while the Scot, like every other British boxer, would love nothing more than to be the proud owner of such a belt he believes it could be time to move on if nothing happens by the end of 2015.
"If I don't get the British title fight before Christmas, I think I'm just going to skip it and go down the international route or try and get myself into position [again] for the European title, or get a world ranking, because come Christmas that'll be almost 20 months since I last boxed for the British title and I've been in a position to box for it again."
Four fights have come Butcher's way since the loss to Satchell. A first round KO win over Gabor Molnar for the WBO European flyweight belt, a first round TKO win over Valentin Marinov (scheduled for six) and two eight-round points victories over Isaac Quaye and Brett Fidoe. In between the latter two came his second career loss - a six-round upset to the unheralded Csaba Kovacs.
"I had a silly loss in December," said Butcher, describing that defeat. "I stopped training and started enjoying myself. I just had a break because I'd been training all year and only had the one fight so I was training for nothing at the end of it.
"I was getting promised dates and then those dates were falling through so then I got offered a fight in December and took the fight at, I think, 11 days’ notice. It was a learning mistake for myself that I shouldn't have took the fight.
"I didn't think I lost the fight,” continued Butcher. “I thought a draw was more of a fair result. I wouldn't say I won the fight if I didn't. There was loads going on in that fight. It was short notice, I was way up at featherweight so it was one of those things where I took a fight and didn't give it all and I wasn't dieting properly.
"It was a learning fight and a learning experience all round. I would never ever do that again."
Unsurprisingly, Butcher has since told his team to never offer him another fight at short notice.
Disappointment would reveal itself in another form for Butcher just four months later when it seemed, at long last, he and Wilton would finally get it on for the vacant British flyweight title at the Echo Arena.
"Luke Wilton pulled out on the Wednesday and we were meant to box on the Saturday night just after it,” said Butcher. “That was a bit of a low blow as well because I heard, prior to the pull-out, that he passed his check weigh-in so we thought the fight was going ahead but he pulled out.
“I don't know what the circumstances were because he handed in a sick note. I heard prior to that he wasn't going to take the fight. It's just one thing after another."
Butcher's next fight date is on 20 September in Motherwell. Another ‘keep busy’ fight which could lead to that overdue British title opportunity. The show will be promoted by MGM Scotland just two weeks after they provide a platform in Edinburgh for cruiserweight Stephen Simmons.
With Ricky Burns' career destined for a conclusion in England and America, Scottish boxing is waiting for young starlets like Josh Taylor, Charlie Flynn, Joe Ham and others to emerge and complement the experience of Butcher and Simmons.
This will hopefully signal a new era for a true boxing country that has relied heavily on one man for too many years.