Light welterweight Jack Catterall (28-1, 13 KOs) nullified the power & offensive skills of the past his best Jorge Linares (47-9, 29 KOs) to grind out a twelve round unanimous decision in front of a deathly quiet crowd on Saturday night at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool, England.
The scores were 117-111, 116-112, 116-112.
The southpaw Catterall used his jab to keep Linares bottled up on the outside, occasionally nailing him with lefts to the head. In the fifth, Catterall stunned Linares with a straight left that caused his legs to buckle momentarily.
Linares backed up immediately and had to hold onto the ropes for support. Catterall’s follow-up barrage of punches missed their mark, and the round ended, preventing him from attempting to finish off the hurt 38-year-old.
For the remainder of the fight, Linares played it safe, throwing single shots, moving in and outside, and staying away from Catterall.
During the post-fight interview by Catterall, the faces in the crowd looked gloomy, as if they were attending a wake. There was no cheering whatsoever, and Catterall looked gloomy himself as if he realized that he’d done a poor job against a fighter that he should have blown out of the water tonight.
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, barely disguising his disappointment in the performance of his fighter Catterall, said he’d like to match him against former undisputed 140-lb champion Josh Taylor.
Given how bad the 32-year-old Taylor looked in his recent one-sided loss to Teofimo Lopez last June, this is a backward move on Catterall’s part to fight him, not the guy he should be fighting.
“I don’t want to talk on his behalf, but it depends on the number. 142, 143, 144. I don’t know,” said Eddie Hearn to iFL TV about Jack Catterall potentially fighting Josh Taylor at a catchweight in the welterweight division next.
“I think there’s no champion on the line. So there’s no undisputed champion, but obviously, you don’t want to give any advantages away because Jack’s a 140-pounder,” said Hearn.
“I’m not expecting everybody to just walk fighters down and let your hands go with your chin in the air. But when you’re levels above someone, get them out of there, dominate them. Show everybody how good you are, and that’s a great example from William Crolla.
“That’s the performance that I look at and say, ‘I’m excited.’ He looked like he had really heavy hands. His fans were excited, and the people watching on the stream were excited.
“Paddy Lacy, not one of our fighters, but a great first-round knockout, and Khaleel Majid was really good. Khaleel Majid could have won that fight on points, but great instruction from Budd McGirt, which was, ‘Don’t wait, let your hands go, back him up and beat him up.’
“It was the volatility of punches that won him the fight, and it was a really good performance. When you stop someone, especially Tom Farrell in his backyard, you make a statement. It was a great win for Reece Belloti. It’s amazing what’s happened to his career. Now, he’s going to fight for the British title of two-division Commonwealth champion.
“Jack Turner is a little madman, I love him. I think he’s a dangerous, dangerous man. I thought Peter McGrail boxed really well. He was out of the ring for seven months. Fran Mendoza was really dangerous. You saw that in the first round. He buzzed him, and it kind of woke him up.
“It just shows you the ability of Peter McGrail. I think he’s going to be a world champion. A couple more ten-rounders, and by this time next year, I think he’ll be ready.
“He got hurt. He was close to tears backstage. It’s the way you lose; it’s the fights you take and take chances. He’ll come back. It’s a game of snakes & ladders. Look at Reece Belloti. He fell down five sets of ladders, and he just kept going. He got an opportunity, he won that and he kept taking risks,” said Hearn.
Obviously, Catterall has no chance of getting the winner of Regis Prograis vs. Devin Haney or the likes of WBO champion Teofimo Lopez or Ryan Garcia after the way he performed tonight.
Catterall would do better to fight one of the young contenders like Gary Antuanne Russell, Richardson Hitchins, or Arnold Barboza Jr. next rather than to fight Josh Taylor.
“I think it was about winning. He had that respect for Linares, and it was the last roll of the dice. He’d already mentioned retirement there, but he’s still a dangerous fighter. There is more to come for Catterall,” said Darren Barker to Boxing UK.
“When he went through the gears in the fifth round when he hurt Linares, there was that little glimpse where he put his foot on the gas that looks so impressive. The way he nullifies his opponent to win. It’s so easy.
“I know Linares was way past his best, but you got to get the job done,” said Barker about Catterall failing to look good by not going for the kill tonight.