If Brandt Butt is going to represent Canada at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, he would be wise to do well in Edmonton first.
The 18-year-old Winnipegger will compete in Boxing Canada's Final Team Selection tournament in the Alberta capital next week. If he wins the 140-pound weight class, he will make the national senior boxing team in his first attempt.
"This is the most important event that I've been a part of," Butt said recently during a training session at United Boxing Club in Osborne Village. "This is senior, so it's a totally different level.
"This can sort of catapult me into even bigger and larger opportunities in the future."
If Butt makes the senior team, he is guaranteed to get valuable international experience. That's what he needs as he builds towards 2012.
"Brandt has already won the nationals and beaten everybody in the division, all the toughest guys," said one of his coaches, Kent Brown. "So we expect him to do very well."
As the surprise winner of the 140-pound class at last month's national championships in Quebec, Butt gets to hand pick his first opponent in Edmonton. If Butt wins that bout, he'll wait as the other four fighters square off to determine who gets to meet him in the final. If he loses the first fight however, he's out.
If Butt gets to the final, whomever he meets would have to beat him twice to earn a spot on the national team. Butt would have to win only once.
Three other United members will compete in Edmonton next week. Jonathan Quinit, 19, will fight in the 105-pound class, while Zafar Sacranie, 20, will battle in the 125-pound division. But neither goes in as the No. 1 seed like Butt, so they will have to get to the final and then beat their opponents twice to crack the national squad.
The youth and junior national championships will take place concurrently in Edmonton, and United's Hanz Hasler, a two-time defending champ, will fight in the 125-pound class.
"We expect big things from Hanz," Brown said. "He's going a couple weight divisions higher because he's grown, but we expect him to repeat."
Butt's national championship last month was a rare feat, considering the man he beat in the final was 32 years old.
"Most guys are in their late 20s when they win the nationals," said Brown, the president of the Manitoba Amateur Boxing Association. "For a guy that's 18, his first time going as a senior, it's huge."
Butt is seeing a nutritionist, he has created a "book of dreams" to map out his goals over the next four years, and he is studying part-time at the University of Manitoba to focus on the sweet science. The next step is making the national team.
"He's already had that international flavour (in the junior ranks)," Brown said. "Now it's just a matter of, 'OK, let's step up the game and get up with the big boys and let's go.' "
The event runs from Tuesday to next Saturday.