Paul Butler has revealed how close he came to retiring before his May 11 with Norbelto Jimenez was announced.

The former IBF bantamweight champion fought and won twice in 2023 after losing his undisputed title fight with the great Naoya Inoue in December 2022, but before the second of those, when he stopped Nabil Ahmed in December 2023, he had decided that June’s stoppage of Jeison Cervantes could bring his then-38-fight career to an end.

Butler, 35, is instead determined to use victory over Jimenez, of the Dominican Republic – for the lightly regarded IBO title at Ellesmere Port Sports Village in Ellesmere Port – to secure another fight for a world title.

“If I didn’t box in December I was hanging the gloves up,” he said. “Only because I was so frustrated. It weren’t nothing to do with me performances in the gym or anything like that, it was because I’d had one fight in June – that lasted two-and-a-half minutes, in Uzbekistan. I’m thinking, ‘Right, straight back in the gym, we can go again’. I got nothing. ‘What have I gotta do?’. 

“I’d just boxed Naoya Inoue in December [2022]. I’ve had one in June and then nothing. I just thought, ‘Come on’. I’m 35. I feel good, but if I can’t get out then I may as well just [retire]. 

“It weren’t so much I was considering retirement, but if I can’t get out, it’s, ‘What’s the f****** point?’ I’ve got my own business [Knockout Removals]. I don’t need to box. I don’t owe a penny on me mortgage – pretty much thanks to Inoue. I don’t need to be in this sport. I do it because I want to win titles and I wanna get to the very top. Nothing to do with the money – I just love what I do. I needed a path. As soon as I boxed in December, ‘Right – we’re in for this; we’re in for that’.

“If you go back to December, that weren’t a fight [that said], ‘Paul’s getting back up the rankings’.

“Joe’s [Gallagher, my trainer] given me a pathway of where I wanna go. We’ve been chasing this fight for a while. We always had this fight, the IBO, which was [previously held by Prince] Patel. Funny enough, Princess Patel vacates.”

Butler was then asked if that meant that his fight with the 33-year-old Jimenez could be his last, and he responded: “I’m 35. So my next loss will be my last loss. I know what’s in the tank. I know I’m still fresh. I know I’m still very good; I don’t have many bad spars. 

“But I’ll [soon] be 36 – if I was to lose at the end of the year or even this fight, it’s gonna take me another two years to get back where I wanna be, and I don’t really wanna be boxing for [domestic] titles. I want to finish at the top. I wanna be a world champion again.”

The respected Joe Gallagher was recently recruited by Lawrence Okolie to prepare him for his bridgerweight fight, two weeks after Butler-Jimenez, with Lukasz Rozanski in Poland, and the trainer said: “[Patel] vacated and we managed quickly to make the vacant belt for Paul Butler and Jimenez. 

“[Jimenez] fought Andrew Moloney last year and he’s a seasoned campaigner, fought Donnie Nietes as well and lost a split-decision. It’s a good fight for Paul in his hometown. I’m really pleased. It’s a busy month – two weeks later we’re off to Poland with Lawrence Okolie.”