PAUL Butler’s preparations for the third fight of his pro career are going well.

The 22-year-old from Great Sutton will box at the ECHO Arena in Liverpool on Saturday, July 16.

And Butler has been sparring with the best.

He said: “I’ve had some good sparring with Stuart Hall (British bantamweight champion).

“We’ve got Nick MacDonald at the gym now so I’ve done some moving around with him and Frankie Gavin is back in the gym after his win.

“I’m sparring kids that are champions now, like Paul Edwards and Hall, and I’m dealing with these lads with ease. I just need the rounds before I can challenge for a title.”

Middlesbrough’s Francis Croes was standing in the firing line when Butler delivered his strongest statement yet as a paid boxer.

The pair met at The Olympia in February and Butler became only the second man to halt the durable Croes with a fifth round stoppage.

Butler admitted to being ‘gutted’ as he watched Jason Cunningham succeed him as ABA champion last month but has no regrets about turning over to the pro ranks.

He said: “I was gutted that someone else was boxing for my title and I believe if I had still been amateur then I would have won them again. But I feel better where I am now.”