WHEN analysing the attributes of super-lightweight Jack Catterall, patience must rank somewhere near the top. It might not be enough to deliver him a world title – for that he will need more – but it has certainly helped him negotiate the past three years of his career and land, at last, a shot against division number one Josh Taylor this Saturday (February 26) in Glasgow.
“It has all worked out for the best,” said Jamie Moore, Catterall’s coach. “His shot was originally just going to be for the WBO title, then it should have been the WBC and WBO, and now it’s for all the belts against the number one, which is what he always wanted.
“He has been frustrated, yes, but he’s pretty laidback and patient by nature. This is just what happens when unifications override mandatories and the titles change hands. You can try to stop those fights from happening, and maybe get blocked out for good, or you can allow it to happen knowing the prize will be bigger at the end of it. It was a bit of a risk, because you never know which direction the winner will go, but luckily Josh Taylor was a man of his word and here we are.”
Despite not having boxed since November 2020, Catterall trained throughout the pandemic, Moore says, and tended to spar at least once a week, the aim to maintain his timing and distance even when inactive.
“That will play a factor in terms of his inactivity,” Moore said. “He can afford to spar a lot because he’s defensively astute and is therefore not putting a lot of miles on the clock. Inactivity, I believe, won’t be an issue here. The only difference between them is the quality of opposition, which is obvious to everyone. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that. But my argument to that, and it’s a valid one I feel, is that everybody has to take that step at some point. It doesn’t mean you can’t perform at that level. It just means you haven’t done it yet.
“Everything I’ve seen of Jack Catterall in the four years I’ve had him suggests that the better the opposition is the better he performs. If that’s the case, and he follows that thread into the fight, it’s going to be a special performance. Josh Taylor is a phenomenal fighter but it will take someone like that to bring out the best in Jack Catterall.”
A southpaw after his own heart, it comes as no surprise to hear Moore express his admiration for Taylor, despite plotting the Scot’s downfall this weekend.
“A lot of fighters who have phenomenal talent take it for granted and don’t have the same work ethic as a lesser talented fighter,” said Moore. “But not Josh Taylor.
“Another reason for his success is the grit and raw determination he has, as well as the ability to push himself through fights. But you can only go to the well so many times. I’ve been there and experienced it myself. No matter how much you want to drag it out of yourself, it only comes naturally for a certain period and then you go off the edge. You can have the best engine in a vehicle but if you put too many miles on the clock it doesn’t run the same.
“I find it inconceivable that you can box at Josh Taylor’s level in a short period of time –especially the run of his last six or seven fights against lots of unbeaten fighters – and not have it take its toll. At some point something has to give.
“But even if it doesn’t, I’m still confident Jack Catterall can beat him. I saw a lot in the [Regis] Prograis fight – a very close fight which Josh just about won – I feel Jack can exploit.”
In the opposite corner Taylor’s coach, Ben Davison, will have similar thoughts and observations regarding Catterall and his previous performances. Yet, of course, much of the attention surrounding Davison of late stems not from these opinions but from the comments he made in January criticising the standard of UK coaches.
“I like and respect Ben and have spoken to him a couple of times and he seems like a nice enough guy,” Moore said. “I’m pretty sure he didn’t say what he said with any malice. But what Ben Davison says about British trainers, or any trainer, has literally no impact on me, my life, or what happens in my gym.
“If he feels like that, he’s pretty blinkered. To make a blanket comment like that is crazy. But he’s entitled to his opinion.
“The worst part was when he said he feels he knows what a fighter goes through despite having never boxed. He said he had pushed his body to the limit so could understand what a fighter goes through in the ring.
“Now, I’m not saying you can’t be a great trainer if you haven’t boxed. That’s a silly comment as well, because one of the greatest trainers of them all was Angelo Dundee, who never boxed. Do I feel it’s beneficial to have had boxing experience yourself? Of course. But that’s a separate issue to saying you know what a fighter goes through during a 12-round fight because you have pushed your body to the limit during a circuit. That’s absolutely insane. But maybe you have to have experienced it to a certain degree to even know that comment is crazy.”
Moore, a former British, Commonwealth and European champion, added: “I don’t begrudge people being fast-tracked in life because life is hard enough. If you get a peg up at any point, and you get propelled to a level where you can be successful doing what you want to do, fair play to you. But if you’re fortunate enough for that to happen, you should also try to be respectful to your peers who have had to work hard themselves.”