On Saturday night, in the lull between the attention seeking totems of Anthony Joshua’s knockout win last month and Tyson Fury’s WBC title fight with Deontay Wilder in December, Jack Catterall and Ohara Davies face off in a bid to step out of those shadows and on to the world scene themselves.
There are plenty of betting opportunities in the fight, promoted by Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions and broadcast on BT Sport in the UK.
The clash between the two British Super Lightweights, or Light-Welterweight as traditionalists will know them, pitches polar opposite personalities and contrasting styles into a contest for the World Boxing Organisation’s InterContinental title.
Many fine men have been lost in the quest to understand the belt’s true meaning so I’ll not risk an explanation. One theory suggests the custodian of the title can expect to be more favourably considered for a shot at their champion, currently Maurice Hooker.
Full disclosure reveals Catterall first won the title in 2015 and has enjoyed no such benefit thus far.
Catterall, a southpaw, has the greater substance in his resume, with a creditable victory over Tyrone Nurse a year ago perhaps the highlight. The Chorley man showed versatility, good footwork and a high work rate to triumph over a tall, awkward and rugged British champion.
A belt he has yet to defend, opting instead for the variance of opponent available in defending this International bauble. He first came to public prominence in 2014 when he snapped the unbeaten record of Thomas Stalker, a decorated Amateur who was 9-0 at the time.
He is neat, organised and a precise combination puncher, aggressive from the outside with good footwork and punishing to the body and head on the inside too. In terms of character, he is the antidote to the brash pantomime villainy of Ohara Davies.
Quiet, determined and with a hardened edge further sharpened by high quality sparring and the guidance of British Boxing’s Trainer of the Year Jamie Moore.
In the build up to the fight, Davies – now fighting under new management and signed to a new promotional company having fallen foul of his own tendency to be deliberately controversial online – has tried a new persona on for size.
Polite and more respectful thus far, it suggests his stoppage loss to Josh Taylor, a man now widely considered the number one in the division, did impart some lessons of humility for the Hackney born puncher.
I have my doubts. With guidance he has potential, and there has been evidence of fight changing power in his right hand, his knockout of Paul Kamanga an eye-catching example, and his leaping left jab does offer him opportunities from the outside too.
But there is more to boxing than offering a mosaic of stylistic pieces drawn from those he admires, and the reality of a hot paced 10-round title fight will be quite the platform to discover whether Davies is a holographic creation or the real deal.
I don’t encourage depositing much on a Davies knockout win, such is Catterall’s speed of thought and feet, but Davies in Rounds 9-10 at 13/1 with Betfair could tempt those looking for a more exciting position to take.
Of the two, Davies is probably considered the ‘puncher’, with 14 knockouts in 18 victories.
The key could lay in the busyness and accuracy of Catterall, 22-0 (12 KO), who overcame a rangy, long armed foe in Nurse, one with much more seasoning in the professional ranks, for Nurse’s British title.
Davies isn’t busy. He was cautious in his first fight over the longer distance in 2016 against Andrea Scarpa and boxes to preserve distance, waiting on opportunities to throw heavier power shots.
There are times in watching Davies when you realise he remains quite raw, that the fluency to support the style he adopts isn’t quite there and in that stillness, in those moments when thought exists where instinct is necessary for success, Catterall will be afforded multiple opportunities to score points.
For those willing to, there is enough in Catterall’s repertoire to suggest he could simply out-hustle, out-work and out-land Davies while the latter looks for one fight ending shot and there is a healthy 16/1 available for a Catterall victory in either Round 9 or Round 10 at Betfair too.
It is a flawed strategy for Davies, but stylistically, I could see that fight; Catterall busy, taking the initiative, Davies searching for a single opening, crouching into his stance, flicking his left jab impotently and frequently being peppered with counters straight down the middle before being hurt with body shots.
I don’t think Davies has enough ring generalship or knowledge of fighting inside to off-set Catterall’s work rate and win rounds. My favoured outcome for this fascinating dust up is a Catterall win on points over the 10 rounds.