BIG INTERVIEW: Jack’s got inside track on Mayweather fight

Chorley's WBO Inter-Continental Super Lightweight champion Jack Catterall
Chorley's WBO Inter-Continental Super Lightweight champion Jack Catterall

Not for the first time in boxing history, the eyes of the sporting world will be on Las Vegas this weekend.

The fight capital of the world has seen it all down the years.

Floyd Mayweather Jr pictured this week in Las Vegas ahead of this weekend's fight with Conor McGregor

Floyd Mayweather Jr pictured this week in Las Vegas ahead of this weekend's fight with Conor McGregor

Or so it thought.

When Floyd Mayweather laces up the gloves for a 50th time there will be something different in the air at the 20,000-capacity T-Mobile Arena.

Irish mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor will be in the opposite corner for a fight that has blurred 
sporting boundaries and divided opinion.

One of the greatest fighters to ever the lace up the gloves going for a half-century of victories should be celebrated.

But in choosing to face a man who may be the undisputed star of the Ultimate Fighting Championship but has never competed in a professional boxing contest, Mayweather has left some pugilistic purists less than impressed.

Just over 5,000 miles away in Chorley, Jack Catterall will be amongst those getting up in the early hours of Sunday morning, UK time, to watch the fight.

A rising star on these shores, the WBO Inter-Continental Super Lightweight champion has a perspective on the fight only few can claim to have. Back in 2015 the Lancashire lad was on the other side of the world ,having secured the opportunity of a lifetime.

Twice a week for four weeks, Catterall sparred with the man himself at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Vegas.

“It was in the run-up to the Manny Pacquiao fight so is a good couple of years ago now,” said the mandatory challenger to the British title.

“It was like a boxing scholarship crammed into a couple of weeks.

“There wasn’t just Floyd, I sparred (Mexican great) Canelo Alvarez and other world champions while I was over there. It wasn’t just the sparring, you just look at how they are in the gym and learn things every day.

“Seeing how they work was an amazing experience.”

So what does he think about the unusual choice for a 50th fight by someone who is already going to go down as one of the best ever?

“I’m on the fence with it,” Catterall said.

“It’s got people talking, some saying good things, some saying bad. It’s certainly got plenty of attention and I guess any attention is good attention.

“I’ll be watching it like everyone else. I expect Floyd to win easy. It would be the same for McGregor if it was in the cage.

“I’m not sure about Floyd’s motivation. There’s the cheque at the end of it of course.

“He can get to 50 and will be confident his career will be intact too.

“They’re also the centre of attention and every fighter craves that.”

It will only be a brief distraction for a man with eyes on fighting on that kind of stage in the future.

October 21 brings the biggest night of Catterall’s career thus far as he gets a long-awaited shot at the British title and a chance to life the iconic Lord Lonsdale Challenge Belt.

At 18-0 and just 24, this is just the next step for the former Chorley ABC man.

But in Huddersfield’s Tyrone Nurse, only three years older but with 21 more fights under his belt, Catterall faces a tall, rangy and skilled fighter who has been around the block. The fight at Leeds’ First Direct Arena is one that he has waited long enough for though.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Catterall – trained by Haroon Hedley in Manchester – said.

“I’ve been mandatory for about 18 months but the fight didn’t happen at first for reasons that were out of my control.

“I had a change of trainer and manager and things like that.

“I think he’s clinging on to the fact that I was scared to fight him but he’s got it wrong.

“I won’t say I wanted the fight because I don’t like to call people out but the British title is what I’ve been after.

“It’s a prestigious belt and it will be great to get my hands on it.”

Many learned observers think the fight will be close, with some pointing to Nurse’s experience edge. The Yorkshireman has been in six British title fights.

But Catterall is unfazed and believes his time is now, with one eye already on the world stage dominated by Terrence Crawford, the American holding all the major belts at super lightweight.

“Nurse has been around for a long time,” said the southpaw.

“But I don’t think you can put a time or an age on when things should happen.

“People mature at different times. I feel like this fight has come at the perfect time for me.

“I’m not one to look beyond any fight but if I come through this one then there will be good things to come.

“Crawford’s got all the belts at the moment and I think he’ll be hanging on to them for some time to come.

“But a win for me means the next 12 to 18 months could be very interesting.”

Ticket details for October 21 are still to be confirmed but anyone interested in supporting Catterall can contact him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.