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Paul Butler elevated to full WBO bantamweight titleholder status, John Riel Casimero stripped in unanimous vote

The WBO have finally made an official call, with John Riel Casimero out and Paul Butler in as bantamweight titlist.

Paul Butler is officially the full WBO bantamweight titleholder
Paul Butler is officially the full WBO bantamweight titleholder

Paul Butler’s saga with the WBO and John Riel Casimero has come to an end, as Butler is now recognized as the full bantamweight titleholder for the sanctioning body, with the organization voting unanimously to strip Casimero of his belt and elevate Butler from interim status.

Butler, who was Casimero’s mandatory challenger, had two fights scheduled and canceled at the last minute against the now former titleholder. In December, Casimero pulled out late with “viral gastritis” before a fight in Dubai, an excuse Butler felt may have been covering up for Casimero being unable to make weight.

Butler was then scheduled to face Joseph Agbeko on that date for the interim belt, but that wound up not happening, either. In January, Casimero vs Butler was rescheduled for Apr. 23. Ahead of that fight, Casimero violated BBBofC weight cutting guidelines by using a sauna, meaning he was pulled from that bout.

As the WBO had given Casimero the notice ahead of time that he either had to fight Butler or be stripped, no matter the circumstances, the question then became whether or not they would actually strip him of the belt.

Jonas Sultan stepped in on short notice to face Butler for the interim title in Liverpool, a fight Butler wound up winning. And now, with the WBO making their ruling, Paul Butler (34-2, 15 KO) is officially a two-time bantamweight world champion. He beat Stuart Hall for the IBF title in 2014, then vacated to move back down to 115 lbs and challenge unsuccessfully for a title at that weight in 2015.

“I already knew I was a two-time world bantamweight champion but to have it officially confirmed by the WBO this morning, is a great feeling,” Butler said. “I produced the best performance of my career in beating Jonas Sultan and Casimero will have watched that display and realized he was seriously underestimating me.

“Had Casimero not been pulled out of the fight, the result would have been the same as I was in the shape of my life for the biggest contest of my career, and he could see that on the night.

“Now, with the WBO belt around my waist, I’m ready to secure some huge fights in one of the best divisions in the boxing, and I will be watching the outcome of Donaire versus Inoue with interest.”

Butler is referring to the June 7 rematch between WBA and IBF titleholder Naoya Inoue, considered the top fighter in the division, and WBC titleholder Nonito Donaire. The winner of that fight will have three belts, with only Butler’s WBO strap blocking an undisputed champion at that point. Donaire has made it clear that going undisputed — about the only thing he’s never done in his legendary career — is a priority for him.

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