NEW YORK — Heavyweight prospects Travis Walker and Raphael Butler’s stock increased this week when news broke about how both fighters knocked down Vitali Klitschko in separate sparring sessions.
“I was there the whole time, and I saw it all,” said Dickie Wood, who trains both Walker and Diego Corrales. “[Klitschko] was throwing a jab and he pulled back and was coming forward. Butler hit him with a right hand and Klitschko went down and his knee twisted underneath him. That was the last day of sparring. It was on a Friday, one week before the fight against Hasim Rahman on Nov. 12, 2005.”
During that year, Klitschko, then WBC heavyweight champion, made history by becoming the first heavyweight champion to postpone a fight against a mandatory challenger on separate occasions in one year. Klitschko was supposed to have fought Rahman, the WBC’s No. 1-ranked contender. Klitschko ultimately retired before a planned comeback later in 2007.
“The day before, Walker hit him with a body shot. It was a left hook to the body, and it knocked Klitschko down,” Woods added.
Walker has repeatedly shied away from the topic altogether and gives off the impression that he tries to forget about having dropped Klitschko.
“I really don’t want to talk about that,” Walker said. “I feel that what’s done in the gym should stay in the gym.”
Butler said: “I actually felt really bad about that because it was an $8 million fight for the championship. That was his life. He lives boxing. I felt bad for that whole situation.”
Both Walker and Butler will be a featured on the same fight card. Walker will headline his first nationally televised fight card on Friday, April 6 at The Target Center in Minneapolis, MN. Walker (22-0-1, 17 KOs) will meet former Olympic rival George Garcia (13-0, 4 KOs). Walker will be featured in the main event of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” telecast beginning at 11 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME. Butler (25-3, 20 KOs, 1 NC) will be featured in the co-featured bout against Art Binowski (14-1-3, 9 KOs).
Walker will attempt to avenge his second 2004 Olympic trial loss as a professional. Walker successfully won an eight-round decision against former amateur rival David Estrada in November of 2006.
Walker, at 6′ 4,” 240 pounds will now meet Garcia, an undefeated fighter whose last eight fights have gone the distance. Walker will have a clear height and reach advantage against his 5’10,” 255 pound opponent.
Walker, a 27-year-old from Tallahassee, FL, now living in Colorado, could emerge as one of the brighter faces in the heavyweight division. A victory against Garcia, his second straight unbeaten foe, could elevate Walker in the sanctioning bodies top 20 rankings.
Butler is a young 23 year-old from Rochester, MN and looks to continue his momentum in front of his hometown fans. Butler may have three losses on his record, but has won eight consecutive bouts and recorded seven knockouts (8-0, 7 KOs).
Diego Corrales Makes Welterweight Debut
After years of struggling to squeeze his 5′ 11″ body to make the 130 and 135 pound weight limits, Diego Corrales finally moves up in weight – two weights classes into the welterweight division.
“I moved up two divisions because I was stuck at 142 for three weeks (before his last fight) virtually eating nothing,” Corrales admitted during a national conference call. “I did not get under 142 until I got to Vegas. So that is why 147 was the best thing for me – just put on a little more muscle mass and carry my size naturally, not put myself in a situation or SHOWTIME in a situation where I could not make weight.”
Corrales (40-4, 33 KOs) will face Joshua Clottey (30-2, 19 KOs) at a weight limit of 147 pounds as part of a SHOWTIME boxing event on April 7, at the The Shrine Mosque, Springfield, MO. The bout will be broadcast at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
The struggle to make 130 and 135 proved to be well worth it. Corrales has had one of the most exciting careers a fighter could dream of. Corrales’ last six fights alone included an exciting trilogy against Joel Casamayor, two wars with Jose Luis Castillo, and a victory against current WBO lightweight champion Acelino Freitas
“There was no hesitation at all,” Corrales added. “I want to be known as a great fighter and the way you do that is by fighting the best fighters out there.”
Corrales won his first world title in October of 1999 with a seventh round TKO of Roberto Garcia for the IBF super featherweight crown. Corrales made four successful defenses against Angel Manfredy, Derrick Gainer, a prime Justin Juuko and John Brown.
Corrales carried an impressive 33-0 record into a January 2001 challenge of then WBC super featherweight champion, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Corrales was stopped in the tenth round.
Corrales, a 29-year-old from Las Vegas, NV, will be tested by Clottey, 30, Acura, Ghana. Clottey’s only two losses were against current WBO welterweight champion Antonio Margarito in December of 2006 and former WBC welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir in November of 1999.
“Joshua Clottey is a great fighter,” Corrales added. “Like I have said all the time, I want to make great fights and make great fights happen. So when they asked me about Clottey, I thought it was a great opportunity and a great fight. We are very aggressive. We are both very strong. I will find out how strong I will be at welterweight now.”
“I think that (his) style is exactly what we like to see. I think our skills match up perfectly and I think it is an amazing fight. Clottey is the real thing. He is a real welterweight; he is a real good fighter at welterweight and definitely somebody to respect. I just want to face the best guys out there and this is one of the best guys.”