Chester-born Paul Butler fulfilled a 14-year-old prophecy last night as he was crowned IBF World bantamweight champion after defeating Stuart Hall at a packed Metro Arena in Newcastle.
Former British and Commonwealth super-flyweight champion Butler, 25, claimed victory on a split decision after he and Hall, 34, battled it out in 12 thrilling rounds of boxing.
The Ellesmere Port fighter was given the verdict after two of the three judges scored the fight in his favour, extending his unbeaten professional career to 16-0.
In only his second fight at 118lbs, Butler was in impressive form as he used his speed to land a series of combinations on his bigger, older opponent.
Darlington native Hall, fighting in front of a home crowd, did manage to land some heavy right handers on Butler. But, roared on by a following of almost 500 of his own fans, the Port fighter did not allow the defending champion to take advantage and took the fight to Hall.
At the end of the contest, two judges scored it 117-11 and 115-113 to Butler, with the other judge scoring it 115-113 in favour of Hall, who had claimed the crown back in December with victory over South African Vusi Malinga.
The triumph saw a prophecy foretold to an 11-year-old Butler by former WBC world featherweight champion Juan Laporte back in 2000, become reality.
A young Butler travelled to New York City with Vauxhall Motors ABC and had only his fourth contest since taking up boxing and was on the wrong end of a controversial decision, leaving him in tears outside the venue.
While his father Paul Butler Snr consoled him, Laporte, who had been watching from ringside, approached them and said: “You’re going to be a world champion, you believe this and remember Juan Laporte told you this.”