With a top five world ranking already secured with the WBO, unbeaten Chorley super-lightweight Jack Catterall covets some domestic scalps to project his profile in 2017, writes Glynn Evans.
The bull strong, hammer hitting southpaw stormed to prominence in 2014 with back-to-back bashings of former Scouse amateur stars Nathan Brough and Tom Stalker. However, just one of his subsequent six wins was achieved against a home based talent.
Earlier this year, the man they call ‘El Gato’ opted out of a mandatory British title challenge to Tyrone Nurse following an unsettling and acrimonious divorce with long-term trainer-manager Lee Beard.
But with Huddersfield’s Nurse recently added to promoter Frank Warren’s roster, Catterall is confident he’ll receive his overdue crack at the Lonsdale Belt early next year.
‘I want to get the British boxing public excited and there’s always better interest when it’s two from the same country fighting,’ states the muscular 5ft 7in Lancastrian who closes out a transitional year this Saturday with a fifth defence of his WBO Inter-Continental belt against Argentina’s Diego Gonzalo Luque in Paisley, Scotland.
‘We wrote to the Board explaining our situation – hopefully that shows the respect we have for both Tyrone and the Board – but I’m not aware that we’ve had a reply so I’m not sure where the fight lies. I’m 100% confident I beat Tyrone. He does nice stuff but I don’t really rate the challengers he’s faced so far and my style is all wrong for him.
‘It’s definitely something I’d like to get stuck into in the new year. I’d love to become British champion but it has to make sense, career wise. The ultimate goal is definitely to become world champion. Nothing can deflect from that.’
Further threats to his domestic hegemony are posed by Scotland’s recently anointed Commonwealth champ Josh Taylor plus Morden veteran Lenny Daws, who contests the vacant continental crown with Sweden’s Anthony Yigit later this month.
Catterall, who already owns Central Area plus WBO European and Inter-Continental belts, greedily eyes the hardware.
‘I was very impressed with Josh the night he won his title,’ admits Catterall.
‘Dave Ryan’s not up to much but Taylor handled the opponent and the occasion very well. I doubt his team would want me anytime soon but, down the line, that’d be another great fight.
‘The European is another belt on my radar. A lot of good fighters have held that. I’d love a crack at whoever comes through between Daws and Yigit. Hopefully, that could be made for the new year. It’s good to have so many people talking and writing about these domestic showdowns.’
Unbeaten in 16 with nine stoppages – several spectacular – joltin’ Jack presently lies fifth in the WBO rankings. The bad news is that the reigning champion is formidable P4P contender Terence Crawford!
‘Of course I’d not turn down a world title shot with Crawford if it were offered – opportunities don’t always come round twice – but I need to be patient. Realistically it’d be better to wait a year or two before stepping up into that kind of class,’ concedes the always calm and level headed 23 year old.
‘There’s levels of world champion and Crawford’s exceptional. He does everything well, great footwork, works the angles, hits hard. I’m a big fan. But I’ve a good boxing brain and exceptional timing. In time, that’s what’ll carry me through the big fights against elite opposition.’
Having sprinted so swiftly to world contention, the former Floyd Mayweather and ‘Canelo’ Alvarez spar hand acknowledges that –even disregarding out-of –ring difficulties – 2016 has been a year of timely consolidation.
‘This year has been one of ups and downs for me,’ says Catterall who is now trained by Haroon Headley and recently inked a management deal with the Marbella-based MGM group.
‘Matters outside the ring have slowed me down a bit so I’ll be hoping to put all the recent bad stuff to bed and move on to big fights in 2017. But I’m young and still undefeated. There’s no rush.
‘I’ve introduced a new strength coach and changed my diet but I’m not doing too much different technically under Haroon. We know what we’re good at but there’s always room for improvement. You have to keep evolving.’
On Saturday, Catterall gets to showcase his considerable skill set to a fresh audience at the Lagoon Leisure Centre, Renfrewshire.
‘All me other fights have been in the north-west so it’ll be nice to have an away day,’ he says.
‘I’ve had a good reaction on line from my fans and believe quite a few will be coming up to support. With Billy Joe defending his world title it’s a great bill to be part of. I’m excited.
After a brace of points wins over Malmesbury’s Joe Hughes (a British eliminator) and Poland’s Lukasz Janik, clattering Catterall shall be hoping to make the judges redundant but knows it won’t be easy. Argie iron man Luque has lost just three of 24, and two of those were split decisions!
‘I’ve seen a couple of his fights on Youtube but I’ve always been one to focus on myself, getting my own game right. Let him worry about me!’ says the former amateur international.
‘He comes forward, likes to let his hands go and throws big bowling shots. Plus he’s coming off a couple of wins. He’ll have some ambition.
‘Hopefully, I’ll get a good few rounds in. I’ve prepared hard for the full ten….but I doubt I’ll need them all!’