Yes, he can punch

Butler set to make Rochester pro debut

BOX: What: "Heavyweight Thunder" pro boxing card.

When &; where: Friday, Mayo Civic Auditorium.

Time: 8 p.m.

Ticket prices: $15 general admission, $65 ringside, $300 and $350 for tables of 10.


Tickets: at Mayo Civic Center box office, Ticket Master (507-252-1010) or from Dan O'Connor (269-6928).

Complete boxing card, Page 2C

By Bob Brown

And just how hard can Raphael Butler punch?

"He hits as hard as anybody I've ever fought," said Courage Tshabalala.

"He did this," said the 33-year-old South African boxer, pointing to an eye that was black and blue from a Butler punch.

Tshabalala, a veteran of 27 professional fights, has been sparring with Butler for the past few months. Both boxers are managed by Houston attorney Steve Munisteri, and they work out together in Colorado Springs.


Rochester fans will get a chance Friday night to see just how hard Butler can punch.

The 20-year-old Rochester fighter, who won the National Golden Gloves super heavyweight title last spring, will step into the ring as a pro in Rochester for the first time. He will take on John Sargent Jr. of Naytahwaush, Minn., in the main event of a six-bout Heavyweight Thunder card at Mayo Civic Auditorium.

Butler has shown he is a big puncher. He has started his pro career with six straight wins. Five of them have ended in first-round knockouts.

"People will be surprised to see how hard this guy can punch," said Dan O'Connor of Rochester, who is Butler's co-trainer and is promoting Friday's fights.

There's a good chance this could be another first-round knockout for Butler. John Sargent Jr. has only one pro fight under his belt and in that one (Sept. 11 in Fridley) he was stopped in the first round by Matt Anderson of Monticello, Minn.

Butler was supposed to fight Billy Johnson of Mandan, N.D., but O'Connor said Johnson wound up in jail.

No matter who he's facing, Butler is happy to finally have the chance to fight in Rochester.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "It's happened only one other time -- when I was an amateur (on a 2001 pro/amatuer card)."


The Butler-Sargent Jr. bout will be one of three heavyweight fights on Friday night's card. Tshabalala will also appear on the card. He will put his 24-3 record on the line against 40-year-old John Sargent Sr., the father of John Sargent Jr.

John Sargent Sr.'s record is 26-4.

The other heavyweight fight will pit Travis Walker, the 2003 national Golden Gloves super heavyweight champ who's also managed by Munisteri, against Glen Morgan of San Antonio. Walker's pro record is 3-0; Morgan's is 1-4.

Scott Ball of Rochester, fighting at 147 pounds, will make his pro debut on the card. He is scheduled to fight yet another Sargent -- Cyrus Sargent, a nephew of John Sr. and a cousin of John Jr. Cyrus has lost the only pro bout he's had.

The 20-year-old Ball is a three-time Upper Midwest Golden Gloves champion.

"At first I was a little nervous about this bout," Ball said, "but now I'm ready to go."

Eight of the 12 boxers who will appear on the card have had six or fewer pro fights. Four of the bouts are scheduled for six rounds, including Butler's, and the other two are scheduled for four rounds.

It will be the first pro boxing card in Rochester since 2001 and the first at the Auditorium in 10 years. Weigh-ins, open to the public, are at 6 p.m. today at the Hilton Hotel

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