PAUL BUTLER passed his first significant test as a professional as he edged a super-flyweight stormer against Ashley Sexton.
Handed the 10 round fight 98-92 on the referee’s scorecards, Wirral fighter Butler extends his paid record to 8-0 whilst dishing out a first pro defeat for London man Sexton.
The bout appeared much closer than the result suggested as Butler and Sexton exchanged and traded shots in the east end of the capital last night.
Originally scheduled as a British title eliminator, Sexton’s inability to make the 8st 3lbs weight limit meant it was downgraded to a standard contest, but no intensity was lost.
“It was a tough fight,” said Butler.
“Him coming in four and a half pounds heavier told on the inside but I came here with a plan to out box him and that’s what I did.”
Sexton came out fast and swinging wildly and with abandon.
The more experienced of the pair in the professional ranks, Sexton set a hellish pace in the first round, aiming to put Butler under pressure he had yet to taste.
But Butler met the test and matched his London rival in a tight first round.
Sexton again tore from the corner at the start of the second session and was trying to soften Butler up with clinches, close quarters stuff on the ropes and - whether accidentily or with intent only he knows - use of the head.
He remained unflustered, despite a slight cut by his right eye, and began to set the tempo in the third round.
He edged the fourth by landing the majority of quality of shots.
Despite a warning from the referee, a further clash of heads occurred in the fifth round and drew a spiteful exchange of words from the pair as the intensity was cranked up at York Hall.
Butler took the round, his combinations were cleaner, quicker and looked consistently more hurtful though Sexton reminded him of his threat with a strong left hook.
The home fighter clawed a round back in the sixth, showing his heart and professional savvy to remain in the contest.
But Butler, trained by Arnie Farnell, looked the more conditioned and took the seventh round though Sexton again dragged the contest back into his domain, backing his rival up against the ropes.
Sexton was intent on bullying and bruising Butler when possible but the former ABA champion produced sufficient quality to win the penultimate round, though ended it with a bloodied nose.
The referee once again warned Sexton about use of the head, but he London man remained unpunished.
However Sexton felt the most hurt when Butler’s arm was raised at the end.