Butler vs Sultan set for interim WBO title, Casimero status under review

Paul Butler now faces Jonas Sultan for an interim WBO belt on Friday | Charlotte Tattersall and Al Bello/Getty Images

John Riel Casimero is officially out, and Jonas Sultan is officially in against Paul Butler on Friday.

Probellum’s Friday show in Liverpool has a new main event, as Paul Butler will face Jonas Sultan for the interim — for now — WBO bantamweight title, instead of Butler facing WBO titleholder John Riel Casimero.

Casimero is out of the fight after violating British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) weight cut rules, using a sauna to aid in losing his final bit of weight before hitting the scales Thursday. This is pretty standard practice across the boxing world, but it is an established BBBofC rule, and Casimero should have known that.

The WBO side of it is that Casimero (31-4, 21 KO) had been given sort of a pass for a December issue where he also didn’t end up in his scheduled fight with Butler (33-2, 15 KO), who may be an absurd mandatory challenger, but is a mandatory challenger all the same.

Casimero has not yet been officially stripped, but his status is under review. He has to “show cause” within 48 hours of yesterday, so at the moment Butler-Sultan is an interim title fight, but a decision could be made to make it a full vacant title fight by fight time.

Another possibility is Casimero being stripped after the fight, and the Butler-Sultan winner being elevated to full titlist status. Yet another option is Casimero not being stripped at all, and the Butler-Sultan winner being his mandatory with yet another, “Ooh, one more time, I swear!” from the WBO.

Butler, 33, won a bantamweight title way back in 2014, and immediately vacated it to move down in weight and challenge Zolani Tete for a 115 lb belt, a fight he lost. He also had a planned fight for the vacant IBF bantamweight title in 2018, but he missed weight badly, and then went on to lose a wide decision to Emmanuel Rodriguez. Since that loss to Rodriguez, Butler has fought at a club level, racking up seven straight wins, most recently a split decision over Willibaldo Garcia in June 2021. That has been enough for the WBO to put him into a mandatory slot, as the win over Garcia gave him the “WBO International” title.

The 31-yea-rold Sultan (18-5, 11 KO) won the “WBO Inter-Continental” title in his last fight, a minor upset over previously unbeaten Carlos Caraballo on the Zepeda-Vargas card last October. He lost a 115 lb title challenge against Jerwin Ancajas in 2018, which had come after a win in Cebu City over Casimero in 2017, which was the last time Casimero lost a fight.

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