Catterall beats Hughes to become mandatory for British title

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Chorley's Jack Catterall is now the mandatory challenger for the British super-lightweight title after making a fourth defence of his WBO Inter-Continental belt.

The 22-year-old secured a unanimous points verdict over 140lb English champion Joe Hughes after a gripping 12-round contest at Bolton Wanderers' Macron Stadium.

Jack Catterall celebrates with his fans after his victory

Jack Catterall celebrates with his fans after his victory

The scintillating southpaw was typically measured and punishing throughout his headline act, aired live on BoxNation, but was made to work for victory against a gutsy and gritty opponent.

With both fighters refusing to concede ground the pair were locked in battle in the centre of the ring for prolonged periods on Friday evening.

Hughes, who suffers from Erb's palsy, a condition which restricts the use of his right arm, has done remarkably well to achieve what he has done in the sport but it was a debilitating disadvantage that was capitalised on by the champion.

With the Wiltshire fighter's back hand relatively inactive, 'El Gato', trained by Lee Beard, was able to keep a close eye on Hughes's fully functional left, employing his jab hand as a defensive mechanism to negate the threat.

Jack Catterall finds a way through Joe Hughes' defence

Jack Catterall finds a way through Joe Hughes' defence

The travelling pugilist did find a way through with an array of bruising hooks during the bout but single shot offensives, which grew in predictability, failed to expose or threaten Catterall. Instead, the title-holder was able to apply the pressure and take command with sustained combinations.

Catterall's display was calculated but highly economical with ringside judges Mark Lyson, Terry O'Connor and Dave Parris recognising that by scoring the contest 117-113, 117-112 and 115-113 respectively.

"It feels really good," said Catterall in the aftermath. "I'm over the moon and it's the best feeling in the world. Obviously I was fighting closer to home tonight so there was a good turn out of people and it was a good, tough fight.

"It's nice. That's the fourth defence now so it feels really good. I've had some tough tests. It's another tick of the box as well because I got the 12 rounds in.

Jack Catterall lands a heavy shot on Joe Hughes

Jack Catterall lands a heavy shot on Joe Hughes

"I felt like I won the fight comfortably. He kept coming so it was a tough fight but they are what I need. I don't want any roll over fights because people spend their hard earned money to come and support me. I want good fights."

He added: "After the first two or three rounds I could see it in his eyes. Although he was tough I sort of got the impression that he was feeling it. He wasn't gassing but he was feeling the pace of it. His mind was probably breaking a bit so I kept on chipping away and I managed to get the win.

"It was a bit scruffy at times. I'm my own worst critic so I want fights to be perfect. No fight is perfect though but there's always room for improvement."

Now the victor, who has crossed the Atlantic to spar with undefeated five-weight world champion Floyd Mayweather and current pound-for-pound king Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, will get the opportunity to add a fourth career strap to his collection, the famous Lonsdale Belt, once owner Tyrone Nurse faces Willie Limond in Glasgow at the end of the month.

"It's definitely exciting," he said. "Tyrone Nurse, who has the British, fights now so I'll watch that fight and go from there. I expect him to win that fight.

"When I get a shot at it, even though Tyrone seems pretty skilful, I know I'm more skilful than him. No fight is an easy fight but it's a fight I feel I can come through and win.

"For me it's about winning more belts and putting good fights on, whether it's the British or another belt. I'm just excited about getting back in there.

"I just need to keep my head down now, keep chipping away and keep moving forward. Hopefully I can move on now and capture some more belts."