THE CHANGING MAN
Davies now seems more focused on ghting than talking, but will this be enough to overcome Catterall, wonders Declan Taylor
THERE has been none of the usual prefight noise from Ohara Davies, who insists he is a changed man ahead of Saturday’s (October 6) crucial domestic showdown with fellow super-lightweight Jack Catterall.
In the past, Davies, 26, has traded on his ability to play the heel, winding up fighters and their supporters in the build-up to fights and receiving plenty of airtime as a result. But the Hackney man, still rebuilding after he was stopped inside seven hard rounds by Josh Taylor in July last year, has decided to rein it in for this fight against another unbeaten boxer hoping to make the step up to world level over the next 12 months.
Catterall, 25, meanwhile, is not interested in his opponent’s new nice guy shtick ahead of a fight which has been mooted ever since Davies made the move to Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions in January following his departure from Matchroom Boxing.
“I don’t get involved in it,” said the Chorley man, who meets Davies over 10 rounds at Leicester Arena, live on BT Sport 1. “I focus on me. I respect him as a fighter but I see a lot of flaws.”
This is Catterall’s 23rd fight and fourth under the guidance of trainer Jamie Moore. Having won the WBO European bauble back in October 2014, he also claimed the organisation’s Intercontinental trinket in March 2015. This will be his ninth defence of that ranking-boosting strap, and victory would further cement his position at No. 2 in the WBO’S 140lb ratings.
But Davies said: “I’ve already been on the big stage. I’m the name. He’s a really good fighter but he’s been waiting for his big shot.”
Like Taylor, ex-british champ Catterall, 22-0 (12), is a highly touted southpaw with genuine designs on winning a world title. Davies, meanwhile, has already spoken about losing his love for the sport and has recently linked up with another new trainer in Miguel Dapenticul. The 18-1 (14) Londoner is the slight underdog with the bookmakers, and the smart money would be on a Catterall decision, although a late stoppage is not unthinkable.
In the co-feature, Leeds’ Nicola Adams, 4-0 (3), faces the toughest test of her career so far in the shape of former WBA female flyweight title challenger Isabel Millan, 22-4-1 (8), over 10-twos. The Mexican is a rangy, left hand-happy counter-puncher who likes to control the distance behind her jab while catching her onrushing opponents with right uppercuts. She does, however, seem to be on the wane. She was beaten twice last year, and Adams should be capable of seeing off the twice-stopped visitor midway through the fight.
However, if the two-time Olympic gold medallist fails to force an early end it will be interesting to see how she copes in a distance fight, having never been beyond four rounds in her life. Millan, meanwhile, is experienced in the field, having completed 10 rounds three times and eight rounds eight times. Expect her to attempt to make the fight a long one in the hope that Adams fades.
Local man Lyon Woodstock Jnr, 11-0 (5), and Welling’s Archie Sharp, 13-0 (7), collide in a potential domestic barnburner, which has been stoked somewhat by social media. Woodstock, who has been the 10-round distance once before, arrives as favourite.
Sharp, meanwhile, is promising a stoppage, but he could find himself on the wrong end of a decision against the home fighter.
Both Woodstock and Sharp are hoping to move a step closer to securing a crack at Ibstock’s British super-featherweight champion Sam Bowen, 13-0 (9), who makes his debut under Warren on the same bill.
Elsewhere, young heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois, 8-0 (8), gets his third outing of the year against the durable and experienced Kevin Johnson, 32-10-1 (16), in a 10-rounder. Anthony Joshua inflicted the first inside-schedule defeat on the American veteran back in May 2015 in what was “AJ’S” 13th fight. EX-WBC title challenger Johnson lasted fewer than five minutes that night. Expect Greenwich’s improving Dubois to do the business similarly quickly.
THE VERDICT Maurice Hooker’s WBO title is in Catterall’s sights, though he has to get past Davies first.
DANGER ZONE: Davies will struggle to rebuild if he loses