(Montreal) Steven Butler will have a second chance to claim a world title when he steps into the ring at Stockton Arena, Calif., on May 13. But this time, he considers himself to be a more mature boxer and believes that he will have an opponent more cut out for his style than in his first attempt, against the Japanese Ryota Murata.
“Honestly, if I faced the Steven Butler who faced Murata [in December 2019] today, I would beat him by K. — O.,” Butler said during an interview with La Presse Canadienne on Tuesday. before training at the Marc-Ramsay Boxing Academy.
“I have matured. I am a more complete boxer, I do not rely solely on my punching power and I have managed to put aside my emotions. I am now able to establish a game plan with my coaches and follow it until the end. »
“Steven couldn’t describe his new maturity better,” added his coach Rénald Boisvert. He understands some things better now. Before, he would have found a boxer like Gervonta Davis boring, who is hyper patient, in addition to being physically stronger than he was before, Steven is also more thoughtful. […] A thoughtful boxer makes a big difference. »
According to Boisvert and his protege, there was a click following his two defeats in a row – he had been surprised by Jose de Jesus Macias when he returned to the ring in January 2021 – which allowed Butler (32 -3-1, 26 K. -O.) to acquire this new maturity. He will need it to overcome Zhanibek Alymkhanuly (13-0, 8 KOs) if he wants to get his hands on the World Boxing Organization (WBO) middleweight title in two weeks.
The mighty southpaw from Kazakhstan won the interim title by knockout. against Danny Dignum last May, before confirming the “real” belt by unanimous decision against Daniel Bentley, in November.
Alymkhanuly, world amateur champion in 2013 and quarter-finalist at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, also has Hassan N’Dam on his list of pros.
But the Kazakh also has weaknesses, he who particularly likes boxing with low hands.
“In the jargon, we say that he “plays it” a little […], but it will not be easy, because he moves well, warns Boisvert. However, the opportunities are going to be there. It will be up to Steven to seize them. Murata was less athletic than Alymkhanuly, but he was much more closed. »
“Zhanibek is very good: he’s a guy who’s had hundreds of amateur fights and he’s possibly the most shunned boxer at 160 pounds,” Butler said. But I thrive on challenges and that’s where we’ll see if he really is the machine that the world thinks. I think not, I think he’s overrated, without taking any credit away from him: he’s good and it’s going to be a tough fight for me. But I think my rage, the hardships I went through will ensure that I will come back from there with victory. »
“For Steven, he’s an easier opponent than Murata, because he has a little difficulty with tight defenses,” added Boisvert. It is sometimes frustrating because you have to be more patient with an opponent who has a good defense. While someone who is open, the opportunity will come faster. »
Boisvert notes that the Kazakh’s footwork is his best asset.
“But Steven also has a really good one. Steven will have to bring Zhanibek into his own game and not make sure, on the contrary, that he falls into his. […] It’s easier for Steven to fight someone who has good footwork than a boxer who does anti-boxing: who holds, who sticks, etc. The more open, trading boxers have so far favored Steven. »
In order to maximize preparation, the Butler clan was able to count on the services of a renowned advisor in Marc Ramsay. The coach of several world champions will not be around the Montrealer, but he was involved in training camp, bringing both his advice and a different point of view.
With just under two weeks to go before the fight, the intensity has dropped off somewhat at camp. Until the group flies to California on May 7, we will use the remaining sessions on the schedule to refine the strategy.
The gala organized by Top Rank can be seen on pay-per-view or on PunchingGrace.com in Quebec.