Anthony Cacace had considered retiring from boxing when his fight with Lyon Woodstock was postponed in February.
Their British title meeting had already been hit by one delay when it’s place on the original Jamel Herring-Carl Frampton bill in the UK was shelved due to a hand injury suffered by Frampton.
The second hiccup occurred when Woodstock failed a Covid-19 test leaving an uncertain future for the British super-featherweight champion. He shared his feelings on social media at that time, saying: ‘Boxing can be really tough at times but really is heartbreaking this time around.’
Cacace is no stranger to delays and inactivity; they have blighted his career which has led to just 19 fights in over nine years as a professional fighter. Woodstock’s withdrawal in February, however, nearly forced him to call it a day far too early.
“I wasn’t really sure which way my boxing career was going. After Lyon failed that test and the fight was uncertain, I was near enough thinking about retirement myself. Getting out of the sport a happier man, not worrying any more about all this shit but it would have been an awful shame and I really would have missed it. I’m glad where I am now, I feel like I’m really in a good spot,” Cacace toldBoxing Social this week.
Cacace vs Woodstock is definitely on for tomorrow night at the Utilita Arena in Birmingham and live on BT Sport. It is a triple header of British title fights with build ups that started in February and have carried through to this fight week. For Cacace and Woodstock, it will be an opportunity to settle an ongoing war of words which certainly has the champion fired up for his first defence.
“He loves a good chat that boy,” said Cacace.
In fact, Woodstock has a pinned tweet dated June 15 on his Twitter page that shows what he thinks of Cacace.
‘@AntoC6 your full of it ain’t you, you’re an embarrassment to boxing. I had a lot of respect for you as a fighter and as a man but you really are just full of shit, you have pulled out of this fight 3/4 times, it’s unheard of… you’re pathetic and just looking for a pay day.’
“What’s motivated me more is the bullshit he talks,” fired back Cacace.
“He’s a lion [Woodstock’s nickname] and all this business, he’s never shown he’s a lion! If he can show he’s a lion I’ll give him a pat on the back after the fight and say fair play to you. Is he going to come over and walk me down? For me, I’d say that’s a foolish move because I’ve been a boxer my whole career not just professionally but amateur as well. These type of guys are people I look for who just come [at me] and I don’t have to go looking for them. They’ll be walking into shots all night long. He’s tailor-made for me. Unless he’s improved drastically in the gym… when I hit him that’s going to be his downfall. I think he feels he’s going to walk through me. If Sam Bowen [who Cacace won the title from] can’t walk through me then Lyon Woodstock isn’t going to walk through me.”
For each man, Saturday’s fight ends a period on the sidelines. The current count is one year and nine months for Cacace without a fight, and two years and two months for Woodstock. Every fighter has a different opinion on the supposed ring rust, here’s what Cacace said about it.
“Yes, that could be a possibility, but I’ve boxed for 20 years, it’s something that comes naturally to me. I’ve had inactivity my whole career, it’s nothing new now. It’s something I’m going to have to see how it goes on the night. Lyon Woodstock hasn’t been active either, that’s another thing. We’re both two inactive fighters. My sparring has went exactly to plan and I’ve been doing everything right. Possibly there might be a bit of ring rust, but we’ll see.”
Cacace has taken himself away from life in Belfast for this fight and based himself half a dozen miles away in Carrickfergus. Far enough from distractions and far enough to get his mind fully on the task at hand. ‘The Apache’ has whipped himself into terrific condition at the Evolution Boxing Club, training two to three times a day while staying at coach Iain Mahood’s mother’s house, which he credits with getting him to train so often.
“What I’ve been doing in this camp is really focusing on myself and getting my head together, getting everything together. I’ve been staying away from home. I think everything has went perfect in the timeframe I’ve had. I’m ready. I’m ready now. Weight’s brilliant, everything’s brilliant, I can’t complain.”
Cacace told Boxing Social that should he come through his maiden British super-featherweight title defence on Saturday night then he will vacate the Lonsdale Belt he won in a thrilling bout against Sam Bowen in 2019. A ranking of No.6 with the WBA and a spot at No.14 in the updated IBF rankings has given the Belfast fighter an opportunity to look at the world scene and move beyond domestic level if he beats Woodstock. At 32, regardless of the lack of activity, Cacace wants to get a move on with his world ambitions. And if that means fighting Queensberry stable-mate Archie Sharp (rated No.2 with the WBO) then so be it in his eyes. Just like his opinion of Woodstock, Cacace appears to have little time for Sharp either after the two had their own tit-for-tat on social media.
“Archie Sharp is an absolute bluffer,” he said.
“That’s the only way I can say it. He’s full of shit. He’s never really done nothing, and he thinks he’s this top dog. I’ve got to commend his confidence but at the same time I think that’s very foolish of him to think he is this person. If all goes well Saturday and I get the win, I’ll be aiming to take Archie out, too.”
Conversation returns to Woodstock and Saturday. Cacace understands why people have billed this as a 50-50 fight, even if does not see it in his own mind, but he gets the hyperbole.
“People think it’s a 50-50, it’s good for TV and I’m sure there will be times in the fight when he will get on top, and he will get in. I suppose it’s good it to be built that way so let it be built that way. But I’ve got so many dimensions to my game. I can switch it up, I can turn southpaw, I can move, I can go forward. Lyon Woodstock can go forward and nothing else. You push him back he doesn’t know where he’s at, he’s in no man’s land. I believe I beat him on the inside and outside.
“I feel like I’m on another level here,” he added. “It is what it is. I have went under the radar. People don’t know what I can do and it’s a difference me being front of somebody and someone watching. I may not look the prettiest at times, but I can nullify a lot of work. I’m very good at spoiling people’s work. I know what level I can go to, and I know how hard I can punch and how well I can box.”
We are now a day away from finding out what will unravel in the ring. Will Cacace’s experience and abilities be too much for Woodstock? Will inactivity hinder both men? Will Woodstock cause an upset? No more words, a time for cool heads come fight night. Cacace knows he can’t let the emotions of the build-up take over him.
“I feel like if I was to let that get on top of me, I wouldn’t perform as good as I should and I’d go in to take his head off. That’s not the plan. Is he going to come forward? Fucking hopefully. I’ll meet him there,” said Cacace. “He may think I’ll be there standing having a war with him and I may do that. I also may box his head fucking clean off him. There’s so many things that I can do here. I’ll see how it is on the night.”
Main image: Queensberry Promotions.