'Every day I’m maturing more': Jack Catterall interview
Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
From laying tarmac to the verge of a world title shot, super lightweight Jack Catterall recounts the story of an eventful career to Shaun Brown...
Jack Catterall once had a three-year plan.
Before boxing the Lancashire lad was working on roads laying tarmac a couple of days a week enabling him to go the gym, hoping to get his foot in the door somewhere and find out where boxing was going to take him. The plan was executed and Catterall went from strength to strength.
But in the beginning, at an amateur boxing club in Chorley, a town 30-40 minutes away from the city lights of Manchester, a young Catterall – who would one day be nicknamed ‘El Gato’ – had no desires to turn professional. He simply loved fighting and enjoyed being in a combative environment.
“I was a young lad with loads of energy who tried judo, tried wrestling and it still wasn’t enough contact for me. I still wanted more. I liked to get involved,” Catterall told Boxing Monthly.
A public service course at college gave him a fall-back plan, always a smart idea, but boxing was not going away, and the lure was enough for Catterall to give it his all. Since then he has never looked back.
Now, at 25-years-old, having amassed a professional record of (23-0, 12 KOs), the super lightweight southpaw stands on the verge of getting his shot at a world title having got into position as the number one contender with the World Boxing Organisation.
On Saturday, at Wembley Arena live on BT Sport, Catterall has a keep busy fight against Czech 28-year-old Miroslav Serban (10-2, 5 KOs). A tick-over contest, scheduled for eight rounds, to keep the tools sharp and one that sees him return to the ring for the first time since he beat the talkative Ohara Davies last time out (October 2018).
A likely routine victory on Saturday for Catterall will keep the zero intact while he waits on the WBO to call for a fight between himself and their champion Maurice Hooker.
“I get this fight done then I’m hoping it’s the next fight,” said an eager Catterall who is desperate to prove his worth on the world stage. And should that test come in America, the Englishman has no issue with taking on the champion in his own country.
“I haven’t thought about too much about where the fight’s gonna be. I mean I guess it’ll go to purse bids and then we’ll see then but it really doesn’t bother me. It’d be nice to go over there but at the same time it’d be nice to have it over here.”
Catterall is no stranger to the United States having spent time over there, sparring superstars Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez in the past. It was a story that gained traction in 2015 after Catterall had put together two impressive domestic wins back to back against Nathan Brough and Tom Stalker.
Having bested Joe Hughes, Martin Gethin, Tyrone Nurse, Tyrone McKenna and Ohara Davies since then there is nothing left to do for Catterall at British level and he will now try and take a world champion’s seat at the top table.
And perhaps it is easy to forget the notable victories he has chalked up at domestic level, which included him winning the British 140lbs title in 2017.
“There’s been some good domestic fights. I’ve proved myself in them fights but this fight that’s on the horizon [against Hooker] is what I’ve been working towards. I’ve worked myself into a position where he’s going to have to fight me, that’s where I’ve worked to be.”
Catterall was speaking to Boxing Monthly a few days after Robbie Davies Jr had edged out Joe Hughes in Liverpool to add the latter’s European title to his own Lonsdale belt. Catterall outpointed Hughes back in May 2016 and felt that the Malmesbury man was hard done by in defeat.
“I thought he [Hughes] gave a right tough, hard fight for Robbie. He’s got the British. It was a couple of years ago that I won that and vacated it and I boxed Joe Hughes before that. I beat him on points. You had Sam Maxwell last week. He had a tough fight [against Sabir Sediri]. He got the win; he did deserve the win, but it proved a tough fight for him for the WBO European against the French fighter who hadn’t done much previous before that.
"I won the WBO European in 2014. I believed I’ve moved on since then. It’s about looking forward right now. I could have fought these guys, but it would have been a step back for me. I won the WBO European, I won the British. I’ve got the belt that I’ve got now [WBO Inter-Continental] but I’m looking to step forward.”
Step forward Maurice Hooker (26-0-3, 17 KOs). A 29-year-old Texan who has already taken one British scalp, that of Terry Flanagan’s, last year when he won the vacant WBO world title on a split decision in Manchester. Two defences since against Alex Saucedo and Mikkel LesPierre haven’t exactly set the pulses racing but his TV platform on DAZN is enabling him to stay busy and make good money at the same time.
Catterall travelled to the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York, last month to take in Hooker’s latest defence against the unheralded LesPierre and left somewhat underwhelmed by the champion’s display.
“There was maybe an issue which could have affected his performance but there was nothing within the fight that stood out for me. It was an average performance. He defended his belt, but I know when I face him, I’ll get Hooker at 100 per cent.
“Before the Terry Flanagan fight, I’d seen Hooker move up the rankings. I’ve never been overly impressed with him. He’s a world champion for a reason and he’s come over here and beat Terry and he boxed away again in Saucedo’s back yard [Oklahoma] and beat him so he’s shown some character. In my opinion he was a weak opponent in the last fight, and he did cause Hooker some problems through the fight.”
A win for Catterall on Saturday night would make it five out of five having joined Jamie Moore’s stable, at the VIP Gym in Wigan, back in February 2018. It is a gym now choc-a-block full of talent with Catterall, Carl Frampton, Martin Murray, Rocky Fielding, Tommy Coyle and more now under the guidance of Moore and his right-hand man Nigel Travis.
Catterall is making the most of his time with Moore, a former southpaw and British, Commonwealth and European champion at 154lbs, and enjoying the fruits of working alongside men who have been at the top, or certainly near to it in boxing.
“There’s a number of things,” Catterall began when BM asked what he has learned the most in his time working with Moore.
“Every fight we’re working on different things, strategies for different opponents. Jamie’s a former southpaw, I’m a southpaw and we look at fights in a similar way so just the way we’re breaking down opponents. I’ve been training around former world champions, British champions, I’m in good class. I don’t think you ever stop learning and I’m picking stuff up every day in the gym.
“I’m in a gym surrounded by fighters who’ve been to the highest heights and they share their experiences with me on a day to day basis, sharing knowledge of boxing, pushing each other and just performing at our best.”
And Catterall doesn’t have to look far for inspiration as he nears his opportunity to fight for a world title. Carl Frampton, a former two-weight world champion, who has fought in a unification fight, beaten Leo Santa Cruz in America and carried a nation on his shoulders at times. Martin Murray has danced with best of them at middleweight and super middleweight. Felix Sturm, Sergio Martinez, Gennady Golovkin, Arthur Abraham and George Groves have all been either pushed to the limit or given a decent test of their credentials by a man who has challenged for a world title on four occasions.
But it is super middleweight ‘Rocky from Stocky’, Rocky Fielding, who has inspired Catterall the most, as he explained to BM.
“You’ve got to look at where Rocky was before he went to Germany [against Tyron Zeuge] and won the world title. He boxed an eight rounder in Sheffield before that. I went up to the fight and supported him. He stayed in the gym after the fight, them fights were a bit shite for him at the time, but he got the eight rounder.
"He was waiting and then he got a shot at the world title and a lot of people didn’t think he could win that world title over in Germany, upset the odds and bring it back. Then he had a difficult fight against Canelo, but he went over there and boxed at Madison Square Garden and from where he was 12 months ago to where he got to you couldn’t have written it so that was definitely a big inspiration.”
Who knows, maybe Catterall will act as an inspiration for fellow VIP gym mates and rising stars Sean McGoldrick, Chantelle Cameron, Steven Ward and Marc Leach as they move on with their own careers, hoping to end up with titles and big nights of their own.
Catterall has been where they are, now a world title fight is within his grasp and should he win he has his eyes on the winner of the World Boxing Super Series super lightweight tournament which enters the semi-final stages this weekend.
“You’d expect the winner to come out of the tournament with, I don’t know how many belts, two or three? Ultimately, they’d be looking to unify the division, I’d have the other belt, so you’d be looking at the winner of the series.
“I feel like every day I’m maturing more, settling more and just growing into the fighter that I knew I would become. And when I win the title, I don’t just want to win the title I want to become a solid name in the 140lbs division going forward from there. The longer the fight against Hooker gets left the better I’m becoming.”