Jack Catterall tells Terry Dooley that, unlike some other people, he doesn’t feel the need to brag and boast
From sparring Mayweather and Canelo to harming ferrets, ‘JC’ has a lot to say
THE hotbed of boxing tends to produce more garish and loud bloomers than shrinking violets. Or maybe it just seems that way due to the fact that ‘the squeaky wheel gets the oil’ and we tend to focus on those fighters who are ever-ready with a soundbite or an idle boast. Some do it with style and panache – Muhammad Ali, for example – and can get away with it. For others, though, the style does not fit, in fact it grates and can serve the purpose of making their opponents raise their own game.
Boxing also requires constant content, so while some fans and pundits bemoan the seemingly endless rise of trash-talking it is part and parcel of ensuring that there is always something, sometimes anything, to write down or record.
It is said that self-praise is no praise, yet for some that is all the approval they can get and it serves a purpose: attention, solicitation of further praise, and good old-fashioned ego-stroking. For others, it is all about quietly and intently working on their craft, honing it to perfection until they reach the point where their fists do the talking for them and their résumé speaks for itself.
Chorley’s Jack Catterall is one of these types of fighters. The 25-year-old believes that his 2014 stoppage wins over Nathan Brough and Thomas Stalker, both previously undefeated, underlined his intent to take the sport by storm and he told Boxing News that he is finally in a position to build on them.
“I boxed them two quite close together and then had some other good learning fights against Noe Nunez and Joe Hughes – it is all part and parcel of where I’ve come to so far,” he said.
Speaking of education, unlike most other fighters “El Gato” (The Cat) decided to put more effort into his academic work rather than his amateur career in order to study Public Services at Preston College. Catterall said that he had to make a decision based on the fact that even a successful professional boxing career is a relatively brief one and does not necessarily prepare you for what life throws at you after you hang up the gloves.
“I’d always boxed from the age of 10 without taking time off, but then came a crunch time where I’m having to think about my education and whether that is more important to my future than fighting. That is when I decided to concentrate on education a bit more.
“You’ve got to think about what a short career this can be. It could end tomorrow or go on for another five or 10 years, but you’ve got to do what you need to do to make sure you can still have a good life after boxing. “My education means that I have got options. I’m not sure what career I’ll go into, but I’ve done the groundwork and now I can concentrate fully on boxing. A lot of people who don’t get to be around boxing always seem to find us interesting. I met a lot of great people on that part of the journey, people from school and college still come to support me. I wouldn’t say to everyone to put it [education] first, but it pays to have other things to fall back on in life.”
Catterall’s quiet determination was writ large when he made the bold decision to switch trainers for the third time in his ³
I KNEW JAMIE MOORE WAS RIGHT FOR ME. BEFORE THAT, I WASN’T ENJOYING TRAINING OR BOXING AND WAS THINKING OF PACKING IT IN”
short career after hooking up with Jamie Moore’s ever-expanding stable of fighters earlier this year.
Previously trained by Lee Beard and then Haroon Headley, who guided him to a British super-lightweight title win over Tyrone Nurse in October last year, Catterall knew that eyebrows would be raised when he decided to move on again.
“It wasn’t a hard decision at all,” he revealed. “You have to be selfish in this game. We have a short life in boxing so if a decision has to be made you make it. You always get a bit nervous about how it would go, but I couldn’t be happier with things. Everything has fallen into place.
“I only had a week off to recover from the last fight [a victory over Tyrone Mckenna in June] and went straight into this one. I’m surrounded by boxers like Carl Frampton, Martin Murray, and Rocky Fielding who have fought for major titles. I like to stay in the background working hard, at the same time I’m picking up tips by just watching the others work.
“I knew Jamie was right for me straightaway,” he added. “I had a couple of places in mind that I wanted to go and have a look at, then I went for one session with Jamie and didn’t go anywhere else. I hadn’t been enjoying training or boxing so was thinking of packing it in. Boxing is a difficult sport. You are putting your health at risk for it. I’m loving it now.”
The unbeaten former British champion is adamant that the results will speak for themselves when he meets Ohara Davies this Saturday (October 6) in Leicester. The two could not be more contrasting in both style and demeanour – the southpaw (Catterall) against the orthodox fighter, North against South, one of boxing’s quiet men versus the trash-talker.
Catterall, though, has been up close and personal with Floyd Mayweather, so he has been at the top table of verbosity, as well as measuring his own ability by sparring the then-no. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world prior to his fight against Manny Pacquiao in 2015. Many fighters have tried and will continue to try to ape Mayweather’s persona, yet they come across as mere facsimiles of a man who, let’s face it, is as shallow as spit on dry ground himself.
“It is strictly business with Mayweather,” said Catterall. “It was like years’ worth of sparring experience crammed into a few weeks. You’ve got that pressure of being in the gym waiting for the best fighter in the world to spar you. It was like a circus, you had that many people in there, yet it is another learning experience.
“I remember the very first spar like it was yesterday. I was very nervous. After that first spar my confidence just shot through the roof. Sharing a ring with someone like that just builds it up in you. Then you get to come home and try to do the things you’ve learned. All of that was at the back of my mind, but when the bell went I had a job to do.”
Things were slightly different when he went to spar Canelo Alvarez in San Diego
YOU HAVE TO BE SELFISH IN THIS GAME. WE HAVE A SHORT LIFE IN BOXING SO IF A DECISION HAS TO BE MADE YOU MAKE IT.”
immediately after the Mayweather job in Las Vegas. For starters, the Mexican made small talk, albeit in broken English. Catterall’s aims and outcomes were exactly the same, though: learn, learn, and then learn some more.
“I was there to spar, learn, get punched, land punches, and was in with a great technician when I was with Mayweather. Alvarez is a different style, yet it was a similar experience –keep quiet, watch and learn.”
The market town of Chorley is a small parish, former world title challenger Michael Jennings hails from there and is a family friend, so Catterall was exposed to boxing from an early age.
“I’ve done and loved boxing since I was 10. Mike used to take us up to the gym and I’d watch his fights,” he said. “He had a lot of success as a fighter. I saw that as a kid who looked up to him. Mike fought for a world title, won the British title, and obviously Chorley is a small town, so I always supported him. To also win a British title was brilliant for me.”
Unlike many fighters, Catterall does not always avidly follow the sport, telling
BN that you sometimes need to tune out in order to look at yourself and your fights in isolation. It is far too easy to get bogged down in the minutiae of a business that can at once engross and eat away at you.
“I went through stages, and I’m sure everyone does, where I might be interested in boxing and then not as interested in boxing. I like to enjoy normal, day-to-day life with my family. I’ve got seven brothers and a sister, so I want to be a good example to them and provide for us all.
“It is not necessarily that you are focused on something else, you still go to the gym and take part in boxing, thinking about what you are doing, but sometimes you don’t want to watch fights every weekend. “You might not even focus on anything else in particular, you just take time out for other things. I’ve got my own plan, my own reasons to do things the way I do, and I don’t pay any attention to anyone’s plans but mine. I haven’t even paid much attention to any of the recent big fights because it is all about my next fight.” There has been controversy, too, as Catterall hit the pages of The Sun after he engaged in a bizarre footwork drill that seemed to be geared towards trying to avoid standing on a pair of ferrets that were running around a yard. It was caught on camera for posterity and promoter Frank Warren drew attention to it by posting the clip on his social media channels. People in the North shrugged it off, Catterall is from Chorley after all, but it was not a good look once others cottoned on and made assumptions about the fate of the two Mustelid training partners. “It was some animal rights activists who got on our back for nothing,” he said, shrugging the issue off. “We live in an area where people are always around animals and we were just having a laugh. They were OK. It was nothing.” Catterall’s clear intention for the new season is to announce himself on the wider boxing scene, first by beating Davies and then by working his way to the top of the WBO superlightweight ratings – he currently sits at number two. “It is one step at a time, beat Davies then see where we go from there,” he said. “My goal is to be a world champion. We have obstacles to overcome first but it is all about that.” NOTE: No ferrets were harmed during the writing of this feature.
I WAS THERE TO SPAR, LEARN, GET PUNCHED, LAND PUNCHES WITH MAYWEATHER. WITH CANELO IT WAS KEEP QUIET, WATCH AND LEARN”
ON THE ATTACK: Catterall forces Nurse backwards during his 12-round points win in 2017
AIMING HIGH: Catterall wants a world title shot