Jack Catterall

In the space of 12 months, not many fighters go from having no titles to holding three belts and being a key part of preparation in the biggest fight of the century.  In the case of Jack Catterall this has happened, and he’s taking it all in his Manchester stride.
 
The young man from Chorley, still only 22 years old, has risen to notoriety in the light welterweight division in the last year.  In July 2014 Catterall (12-0-0) recorded a win over the unbeaten Nathan Brough which gave him his first silverware, the Central Area title.  It happened in his hometown of Manchester at the Phones 4 U Arena (formerly the MEN), the scene of many famous Manchester fights including the infamous Ricky Hatton win over Kosta Tszyu.  “I was an underdog against Nathan” says Catterall.  “I beat Nathan and was scheduled to fight a guy from Europe when I got the call to fight for the European title and I was made up.”
 
It may seem like a huge leap from Central Area to European level, but the landing spot in the European arena was a familiar one.  His opponent for the title was the also unbeaten Thomas Stalker.  The Liverpudlian was a highly decorated amateur, captain of the Great Britain boxing team at the London Olympics and heralded as a top professional prospect.  Tom and Jack were familiar to each other.  “We had sparred a lot together, about 60 to 80 rounds” Jack tells me.  “Of course that helped on the night as I knew how he fought, he’s almost the finished article so wasn’t likely to change his style.  I also knew he didn’t carry power to hurt anybody.  He was outstanding as an amateur and was unlucky in the Olympics but it hasn’t quite come off for him as a pro.  The Nathan fight gave me so much confidence and I struck while the iron was hot.”
 
So was that the biggest win of Catterall’s career?  “For magnitude yes it’s the biggest.  It was also in his back garden for the European title so that helps!”  That fight took place in the Echo Arena, Liverpool – not a place that offered a friendly welcome to a Mancunian who stopped the home fighter in the 8th round.  Catterall was back in familiar territory in March of this year, completing his hat-trick of belts by beating the experienced Cesar David Inalef of Argentina, a man who had over twice as many fights.  He dispatched the older fighter in round five, and in the process became WBO Inter-Continental champion.  That title will be defended again on October 10th, the next time we are due to see Catterall in the ring.
 
“I’ve defended it once so far (against Gabriel Calfin) and will be defending it on the undercard in Manchester.”  That card features Terry Flanagan defending his lightweight title for the first time, Derry Matthews and as an added bonus for Manchester fans there will be Andy Lee versus Billie Joe Saunders for the WBO middleweight title (having been re-arranged away from Ireland). 
 
The Calfin fight wasn’t the ideal first defence for Catterall.  Another Argentinian opponent, he made an awkward night for the Manchester fighter.  “It was a scruffy fight.  I landed some shots in the first round and hurt him – from there he was holding, spoiling and looking for a way out”.  Scruffy it was.  Each fighter had two points deducted each for a variety of reasons in a fight that Catterall won in the sixth round, but he was disappointed with his nights work.  “After a tough training camp you want to put on a good fight for the fans, so it is frustrating.”
 
Catterall is now ranked 18th in the world at light welterweight.  The division is thinning out at the top, with the likes of Danny Garcia stepping up to welterweight it leaves an opening in the 140lbs division.  Has Jack got a route to the top planned out at present?  “My priority at the moment is to turn up to the gym every day and be the best fighter I.  When it comes to the next fight I leave that to Frank Warren and my manager Lee.  Lee also trains me, so he knows how I am every day – how I’m looking and feeling – he knows I’m happy to fight anybody.”
Ross Burkinshaw
One potential matchup in the future could be a showdown with domestic rival Frankie Gavin, who himself has gone from light welterweight to the full 147lbs division and is now speaking of dropping back down.  Is that a fight that appeals to Catterall?  “Look, Frankie has held British, European and Commonwealth titles and just come off a loss in a world title fight (against Kell Brook), so I don’t know if it’s of interest to him.  But if it makes sense and he wants it then yeah, absolutely.”
 
Catterall is in a great position at present.  With a division that has lost its biggest names, he is in no rush to get to the top and has his feet firmly on the ground.  “I can’t look too far forward as nothing is set in stone.  I prepare for the next fight and that’s all I can do.” 
 
Part of his preparation of late has taken him out of his Manchester comfort zone and seen him fly around the world to be part of the biggest boxing match of the century.  In the buildup to the Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquaio fight, Jack Catterall played a major part.  “My manager Lee has a lot of contacts out in America.  When the fight was announced I went out to Mayweather’s gym and it was a wicked experience.  I found out a week before my own fight at the time that I would be going out there and sparring.  The experience was amazing – there are boxers all over the world that would love to do that so I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”  So what did the Manchester boxer pick up from being part of the huge Vegas showdown?  “Just being in training camp, seeing how Mayweather prepared for the biggest fight of his career and all the little things I could watch and learn, it was amazing.”
 
Undoubtedly exposure to such events will help Jack Catterall when it comes his time to shine on the world stage.  He acknowledges that he is still a few steps from competing at the top of the world level, but at only 22 years old and with just 12 fights he has time to develop his in ring skills.  The impressive belt collection sits well alongside his eight stoppage victories in his career to date.  On October 10th his opponent is likely to be a Spaniard who himself has 16 wins with only a single loss on his record, another tough task for Catterall.  “Hopefully in the future there will be more shows in Manchester and not Liverpool, I’m not sure I would be that welcome back there!” he jokes.  Perhaps not Liverpool, but it is safe to say that Catterall will soon be exposed to a wider audience both domestically and potentially internationally.