Emmanuel Rodriguez wasn't going to let a heavier Paul Butler get in his way of becoming the next Puerto Rican to win a boxing world championship.
Traveling to the U.K. for the first time in his career, Rodriguez cut Butler down to size with two first-round knockouts en route to a very wide unanimous decision victory to win the vacant IBF bantamweight title. Butler almost pitched a shutout on all three judges' scorecards, winning the fight with scores of 118-108, 120-106, 120-106.
Rodriguez's left body hook was in full display in the early going, hurting Butler and using it to knock him down twice in the first round. What followed was 11 more rounds of Rodriguez easily dispatching Butler, from avoiding Butler's power punches, to cutting off the ring and pressuring Butler throughout the fight.
The day before the fight, Butler was more than three pounds over the 118-pound limit (121.3 pounds) and has been ruled ineligible to win the IBF title. Butler had a chance to shed the excess weight in a two-hour window after his first weigh-in but did not return to the scales.
With Rodriguez holding the IBF bantamweight title, the island of Puerto Rico, looking for its next boxing superstar after Miguel Cotto's retirement last year, now has crowned four different world champions within the past nine months. Alberto Machado is the WBA super featherweight champion, Angel Acosta is the WBO light flyweight champion and Jesus Rojas is the interim WBA featherweight champion.
The title was originally held by WBA champion Ryan Burnett but Burnett vacated the title to fight his WBA mandatory challenger and not Rodriguez, the IBF's mandatory challenger.