Jack Catterall: Patient pursuit

Nothing is ever certain in boxing but 2021 looks like being the year Jack Catterall finally gets a world title shot.

The 27-year-old from Chorley returns to the ring on Saturday night against Frenchman Abderrazak Houya in a 10-round contest. The bout fills a slot on the highly anticipated Daniel Dubois-Joe Joyce heavyweight clash with the winner expected to go on and fight for a world title in the next 12 to 18 months. Catterall has waited long enough for his own chance and, while attention is fully on Houya, he knows that next year will see his patience pay off.

In January 2019, Catterall was elevated to the status of WBO super-lightweight No.1 contender. Two months later he travelled to New York to watch Maurice Hooker defend the title against Mikkel LesPierre. A unification was then made between Hooker and WBC ruler Jose Ramirez for July. That fight ended in clinical fashion with the latter winning by sixth round TKO.

Despite his promoter Frank Warren initially saying Catterall would not step aside he is doing just that to allow an undisputed 140lbs battle between Ramirez and Josh Taylor.

Speaking to Boxing Social Catterall said: “Through my management team MTK [Global] and my promoter Frank [Warren], we agreed to step aside. Ultimately, at first, because I had been waiting so long, I was adamant I wouldn’t step aside. Low and behold they kind of planned out a path for me that ultimately benefits me long-term. I’ve agreed to step aside and allow the undisputed fight between Taylor and Ramirez with the promise of getting the winner. Obviously, I look no further than Saturday night and then hopefully sooner rather than later they get the fight on. I can then have a watch of that and be ready to take the winner.”

Does he have any regrets agreeing to step aside though?

“Yes and no. We worked so hard to get into a mandatory position and even when I got into the mandatory position it was like every obstacle that could be thrown my way, did,” explained Catterall (25-0, 13 KOs). “I believe that I’m still coming into my prime and the best years are ahead of me. The decision wasn’t solely my decision, it was a collective decision and I do believe that, get this fight out the way God willing, the next couple of years will deliver the big fights I’ve been dreaming of.”

Nothing official has been announced for Taylor vs Ramirez yet. While work behind the scenes to make the fight carries on, all Catterall can do is sit tight some more. The Jamie Moore trained southpaw is rightly in a hurry for the fight to happen.

“I was initially told that fight would happen early in the New Year possibly early February but there’s been no update or nothing on social media. In my selfish interests, I need that fight to go ahead asap so come spring, late spring next year I can fight,” he said. “I do want Taylor to win. That is the fight that I want. Taylor, Scottish [versus me] English. It’s a big unification fight over here in England and [I] hope the fans are back in by then. [I’ve] got no qualms going over to America if Ramirez wins but I do sway towards Taylor. I think Taylor’s a level above Ramirez but the sooner that gets announced the better for me.”

Southpaw Catterall will receive his overdue shot at a world title in 2021.
Photo: MTK Global.

Catterall, as he did for Hooker vs LesPierre, is intending to be at the undisputed fight but there is one important life-changing moment that could get prevent him from doing so. He and his girlfriend are expecting a baby girl, their first child together, at the end of January/early February but Catterall is still hopeful he may be allowed to watch the fight and see the winner and the man that stands between him and his dreams coming true.

“If I can get in and out in 48 hours, I think I might be able to get away with depending on where it is!”

Catterall is thrilled at the prospect of becoming a father and cannot wait to meet his little girl.

“It’s amazing,” he says beaming with pride and excitement. “With all the negativity in the world, a positive thing has come out of this lockdown business and we’re having a baby girl. I’m in a good place, we’ve just moved into our new house, got a little daughter on the way and I’m getting geared up for all these big fights so bring them on.”

A new addition often adds motivation to the desire of a fighter and what they want to achieve. Another mouth to feed, a child to look after might just make anyone run that extra mile or sacrifice more of themselves in the ring than ever before just to become a world champion let alone an undisputed one.

“I’ve got a big family. I’ve got seven brothers and three sisters. I’ve got a massive family and I’ve got a lot of younger siblings, so I’ve always felt like a bit of a role model for them,” he said. “I’ve always been motivated. Of course, you’ll have days where you can’t be arsed, but you’ve got to pick yourself up. I’m not just doing it for me to secure my future, but now with having a big family, a baby on the way I’ve got to take care of everybody so there’s the extra motivation.”

Catterall says he loves nothing more than being able to help his family. Taking his little brothers and sisters to the park to get an ice-cream is just one example he cites as bringing pleasure to him because it puts a smile on their faces.

“And if I can look after them like that and make sure my mum’s okay and I’ve got to go to the gym and fight to do that then so be it – that’s what makes me happy.”

Speaking to the former British champion, an impression is given that being a rock for his family and now a provider for one of his own is something he relishes and that he thrives on the responsibility. The picture being painted is of a man being content, surrounded by loved ones and happiness with just one world title piece of the canvas waiting to be completed.

Catterall isn’t normally one for taking a lot of punches in the ring but the disappointment of not landing a big fight in the last 18 months and the impact of Covid-19 has acted as a substitute in 2020. He refuses to be beaten by any of it, however. 

A new house has taken up a lot of Catterall’s time during Covid. Jobs around the house, getting the garden ready have all been keeping the man and the fighter ticking over in between the training he has been doing.

He looks at the glass being half full rather than half empty and feels lucky to be boxing full-time and have the right people around him.

“When you enjoy doing something there’s no better feeling. But in any job, there’s always ups and downs. You get fights, you don’t get fights. I get up every day, I go to the gym, I work hard, I eat well, and I live well,” said Catterall. “I’ve been raring to go but I believe everything [happens] for a reason. I’m only 27 and have plenty of big fights ahead. I’m going to be around for a while. As every day passes, I know I’m one step closer to being a world champion.”

Catterall outfoxed Ohara Davies in October 2018.
Photo: Queensberry Promotions.

Main image: Catterall works the pads with trainer Jamie Moore. Photo: MTK Global.