No all-British unification bout for McDonnell

Paul Butler
Paul Butler
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Jamie McDonnell’s hopes of an all-British world title unification fight are over after IBF champion Paul Butler announced he would be vacating his crown.

After the Doncaster fighter won the WBA bantamweight title in May and Butler claimed the IBF crown from Stuart Hall in June, there was plenty of talk about a potential unification bout later this year.

The pair’s respective promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren even made offers to the opposite camps in a bid to make the fight happen.

But it is off the cards due to Butler’s shock decision to hand back his IBF title.

The 25-year-old Merseyside fighter intends to drop back down to his more natural super flyweight in an attempt to become a two-weight world champion.

“It’s a beautiful belt and it’s hard to relinquish it seeing as it’s the first world title that I’ve won, but I knew that it was always going to be the case if I won it I’d have to return it and go back to down to super-flyweight,” Butler told the Liverpool Echo.

“When the opportunity came to fight Hall for the title I knew that it was a fight that I could win and I grabbed the chance with both hands.

“To become a world champion in only my 16th fight was an absolute dream come true.

“Obviously there was a big size difference between me and Hall, but I said to everybody that I could overcome him with my speed and work-rate and that proved to be the case, but I’m a natural 115 pounder.

“Now I aim to win a world title at super-fly and achieve another dream of becoming a two-weight world champion in reverse.”

Randy Caballero is the mandatory contender for the title and will likely contest the vacant strap against the IBF’s next top contender.

Whether McDonnell can be manoeuvred into such a contest with his WBA title also on the line would likely require a relaxing of the IBF’s stance towards the recently married 28-year-old.

The IBF blocked attempts by promoter Hearn to make a final eliminator for the organisation’s bantamweight title between McDonnell and Caballero in April, prior to McDonnell signing forms for his WBA championship battle.

The reason given was the continued dispute between McDonnell and estranged manager Dennis Hobson, which has yet to be ruled upon by the British Boxing Board of Control.

McDonnell won the IBF bantamweight title last year but was stripped of the crown after the organisation ruled he had failed to agree to a mandatory defence.