Finally, Butler will fight on friendly turf
It's have Raphael Butler will travel over the last six months.
The 20-year-old Rochester boxer won the national Golden Gloves super heavyweight championship in Kansas City in May, then he turned pro and has fought in Reno, Nev.; Temecula, Calif.; Houston, Tex.; Fridley, Minn.; Hinckley, Minn.; and Blackhawk, Colo.
And when he hasn't been fighting, he has spent much of his time training in Colorado Springs, Colo.
But finally Butler will get a chance to box in his hometown when he headlines an Oct. 29 "Heavyweight Thunder" card at Rochester's Mayo Civic Auditorium. He will put his 6-0 pro record on the line against Billy Johnson of Mandan, N.D. in a scheduled six-round bout.
"I'm looking forward to fighting in Rochester," Butler said. "I've fought here only once -- as an amateur three years ago."
He is especially eager to fight in Rochester because it will be the first time his mother, Stephanie, will see him box.
"She's always been a little nervous about me boxing," Butler said, "but she will be there."
Dan O'Connor of Rochester, who is one of Butler's trainers, is putting on the card, which will feature seven fights.
"It will be a chance for people of the Rochester area to see Raphael box," O'Connor said. "They may be surprised at how good this guy is."
Butler has been nothing short of impressive as a pro. He has knocked out all six of his opponents, the last five in the first round.
In his last five fights he has boxed a total of only 3 minutes and 14 seconds. In his last three bouts, he has kayoed opponents in 36 seconds, 57 seconds and 30 seconds, respectively, hardly enough time to work up a sweat.
"I am a little surprised it has gone like this," Butler said. "I thought things would be more difficult."
In his six pro fights, Butler said he has taken only one hit that got his attention.
It has been Butler who's done the hitting.
"He's a devastating body puncher," said O'Connor, who has worked the corner in all six of Butler's pro fights. "A couple of those and his opponents are ready to give up."
Butler is hoping that he will soon face somebody who "will stand up to me.
"I want to see how I take it," he said. "But I realize that will come."
Billy Johnson, his opponent on the Rochester card, is 32 years old and has more experience than Butler. He has a 6-6-1 pro record, but in his last seven bouts he is 0-6-1.
Butler's fight will be one of three heavyweight bouts on the card. Travis Walker of Tallahassee, Fla, the 2003 national Golden Gloves super heavyweight champion, will face Glen Morgan of San Antonio and South African Courage Tshabalala will go against John Sargent of Naytahwaush, Minn.
Malcolm Tann of San Antonio, the 2002 national Golden Gloves super heavyweight champ, was also scheduled to fight on the card, but he is recovering from a broken hand.
Butler, Walker and Tann are all managed by Houston, Tex., attorney Stephen Munisteri.
Three-time Upper Midwest Golden Gloves champion Scotty Ball of Rochester will make his pro debut on the card against Arbie Brownotter of North Dakota in a bout matching 147-pounders.
"I'm a little nervous," the 20-year-old Ball said. "I'd hate to screw up against the home folks."
Ball said it was always a dream of his to turn pro.
"I wanted to do it when I was 18," he said, "but at that time Dan O'Connor said I'd be better off as an amateur."
O'Connor will also train Ball.
Rochester light heavyweight Fred Moore will not appear on the card. He has been training in Florida and will fight James Lubwama of Uganda on Friday night in Sarasota, Fla. It will be Moore's third straight fight in Florida.
"We wanted Freddie on our card," O'Connor said, "but he had other plans."
The card will be the first pro card in Rochester since July 28, 2001 and the first at Mayo Civic Auditorium in eight years.
Bob Brown is the executive sports editor of the Post-Bulletin. His column appears Wednesdays and Saturdays. He can be reached at email@example.com.