Big Interview: Chorley boxer Jack Catterall on the cusp of greatness
Craig Salmon talks to Chorley boxer and world super lightweight title contender Jack Catterall
Cradling his six-week-old daughter in his arms, Jack Catterall already feels like he’s on top of the world.
The 27-year-old boxer became a father for the first time earlier this year when his partner Lauren gave birth to Riley Rae.
Chilled and content, baby Catterall has been a dream so far for both mum and dad – perhaps taking after her father’s laid-back approach to life.
The Chorley lightweight ace is arguably one of the hottest boxing properties in this country – if not the world.
With his southpaw stance combined with the easy power he possesses, Catterall has racked up a hugely impressive unbeaten record of 26 victories, exactly half of them coming by way of knockout.
A former British and European champion, the next step of his so far unblemished career would be to become world champion.
Indeed, Catterall has been spoken about at world level for the past 18 months but a combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and boxing politics has so far prevented him from fighting for the world title.
Perhaps it’s an advantage then that Catterall’s character and personality ensures that he takes everything in his stride – preferring to take the longer-term view that his time will one day come.
And that date with destiny is almost certain to happen later this year.
Despite being the mandatory challenger for Jose Carlos Ramirez’s WBO belt, Catterall has agreed to stand aside so an unification fight can take place between the American and Scotsman Josh Taylor.
Between them the pair hold all four world titles and they are scheduled to meet in May, in Las Vegas, USA.
Whoever should prevail in that mouth-watering contest is set to face Catterall later this summer.
It could well be that by the end of this year, Chorley will have its very own unified world champion.
That will certainly be something to tell Riley Rae about when she’s older!
“Baby has been really good,” said Catterall.
“Myself and Lauren have been sharing the night-time chores.
“She will do one night and I will do the next and vice versa.
“Riley Rae, she’s been as good as gold to be fair.
“I think becoming a father does give you a different perspective.
“I am a big family man – I’ve got a big family.
“When we found out that Lauren was expecting, I wouldn’t say it was the kick up the backside that I needed or anything, it just made it even more worthwhile what I am doing now.
“It’s not just for me , I am doing it for my little girl – and the future generations of my family.”
After being patient for so long, Catterall is excited about what this year could bring.
He admits he has needed all of his mental strength to remain positive and upbeat.
“I have been the mandatory challenger for the WBO title for past 18 months,” said Catterall, whose last outing was in November when he defeated Abderrazak Houya convincingly on points in what was his first fight in a year.
“To be honest, it’s probably been a blessing in disguise because I think if I had fought for it last year or the year before, it may have been too soon.
“I have been chasing that title since Maurice Hooker held it.
“He then lost to Ramirez who then defeated Vitor Postel in his first defence.
“I suppose it’s been a long-time coming really. It has been frustrating but I am one of those people whose glass is half full.
“I have done everything I could have done from my behalf.
“I have stepped aside, I have had the tick-over fight in November.
“I have done the honourable thing which is to let Ramirez and Taylor fight and then hopefully they will stick to their word and let me fight the winner.
“But you know what on the flip side, I feel like I am in a fortunate position because some fighters’ careers could possibly have ended over the past year because they’ve not been able to get fights and have had to go back to work.
“I am in a fortunate position where I can be in the gym every day and train with the knowledge that I am still in that mandatory position to challenge for the world title.
“I have got to look at things from that point of view.”
Should Taylor defeat Ramirez, it could set up a mouth-watering battle of Britain between himself and Catterall.
And the Englishman favours his fellow Brit to come out on top when he meets the American.
“I am confident in Taylor winning and that will hopefully set up a big British fight between myself and Taylor further down the line,” said Catterall, who is trained by former European and British super welterweight champion Jamie Moore.
“I have been studying them both and watching all of their previous fights.
“I just feel like Taylor’s got a better boxing IQ, but don’t get me wrong Ramirez is a world champion – he’s a very good fighter.
“I feel Taylor does have that little extra to his game and I think he will get the win. I definitely feel that I match up well to them both.
“I have earned the right to be here.
“I have beaten all the rest of the boys domestically and I think we have only seen half of what I am capable of.
“Over the next two years I’ll hopefully get my chance to show my level and test myself against the very best.
“I don’t really want any more tick over fights and I’ve probably had 10, 15 domestic fights.
“I have probably come through them while being in second gear and not truly shown what I am capable of.
“But I do believe that once I get in with the big boys, all these names that we have spoken about then I will show what I’m about.
“In fairness the division is stacked with a lot of good fighters. There’s probably 10 to 15 who are up there but I fancy myself against them all.
“I feel in great shape – I have looked after my body.
“I was having this conversation with somebody at the gym the other day, I haven’t really been in any wars with anyone.
“It’s not as though I have gone toe-to-toe with anyone. I have won all my fights pretty comfortably and hopefully that will stand me in good stead.
“I feel like I have got to where I am doing it the smart way.
“I know a lot of fighters who turned professional at the same time as me, they have been in that many wars that they are talking about the next fights being make or break in their careers.
“I feel like I am cruising, but I need to step it up now.”
Catterall has been lucky enough to train alongside the legendary American fighter Floyd Mayweather JR in the past.
The former five-weight world champion, who reigned supreme for 20 years winning all 50 of his professional bouts, invited him to be a sparring partner at one of his training camp.
Currently, he trains alongside ex-world bantamweight champion Carl Frampton, who recently suggested that Catterall has only scratched the surface in terms of his talent.
“Your team-mates see you in the ring every day,” he said.
“Carl can see what I’m capable of but ultimately it’s about going out there and proving it.”
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