Butcher eyes up new opponent

Phil Smith has pulled out of a rematch with Iain Butcher
Phil Smith has pulled out of a rematch with Iain Butcher

A EUROPE-widE search for a new opponent for Motherwell boxer Iain Butcher ended with a South African living in Bristol.

The unbeaten 20-year-old had been scheduled for a rematch with Phil Smith for the British Masters flyweight title at Rivals Gym in Wishaw on December 7.

However, when the Liverpudlian backed out of the fight the race was on to fine alternative opposition with Soweto-born Michael Ramabeletsa agreeing to drop down from bantamweight to compete for the British Masters super-flyweight belt.

Butcher’s manager Paul Graham said: “It didn’t matter how much money we offered Smith he simply wasn’t interested in the rematch which left us a bit of a problem.

“We looked in Spain, Denmark, Hungary and Latvia before identifying Ramabeletsa. He is costing a small fortune to bring up for fight, but it shows how seriously we are taking things.”

The experienced 30-year-old will provide a difficult test for Butcher. His record of 8-8 was damaged with five defeats in a row since relocating to the UK last year, but has rebounded to win his last two outings.

Graham said: “Ramabeletsa is no mug and has more experience under his belt. He has recovered his form of late so we are expecting a hard fight for Iain, which is exactly what he needs.

“At 20 he is still a baby as far as boxing goes so to get his hands on a mini title at this stage of his career will be good for him and with only two flyweights currently ahead of him in the rankings there is no question he’ll be going for the British flyweight title proper at some point next year.”

Butcher and Ramabeletsa’s 10-round title fight will headline a seven bout card which also features Bellshill lightweight Kris Hughes in action against Dougie Curran, looking to bounce back after two defeats.

Doors open at 6.30pm and tickets costing £30 are available by calling 01698 338888 or 07793 533981.