“[Josh] Taylor, where are you? Let’s have it, you shithouse,” said Jack Catterall, having scored a resounding decision victory over Venezuelan veteran Jorge Linares, the former three-weight world champion, in Liverpool to remain in the frame for a big fight at super-lightweight.
Catterall, who lost a controversial split decision to Josh Taylor in 2022, scored his second win of the year having defeated Darragh Foley in May in his first fight for 15 months.
Catterall won by scores of 117-111 and 116-112 (twice).
38-year-old Venezuelan Linares drops to 47-9 (29); Chorley’s Jack Catterall is now 28-1 (13).
It was a steady, unspectacular win, but the rounds and inactivity will do Catterall plenty of good.
It was a steady opening session with Linares looking for straight rights against the 30-year-old, dubbed ‘El Gato’, but in the second round Catterall started to find range with his straight left.
Veteran Linares won his first world tile (first of three) an astonishing 16 years ago, but he had lost his last three against Devin Haney, Zaur Abullaev and Zhora Hamazaryan, and he was cut by the eye on the nose in round two. Referee Michael Alexander ruled the wound was caused by an accidental headclash.
Catterall had more success in the third. Linares was finding Catterall hard to hit and sometimes Catterall beat him to the punch and on other occasions he countered Linares effectively.
“You’re timing is perfect, spot on,” said an encouraged trainer Jamie Moore, in Catterall’s corner.
Catterall landed occasional lead right hooks but while Linares’s body still looked sharp and sleek, he was half a second behind in most of the exchanges and in the fifth Linares missed with a wild overhand right that Catterall easily read.
Moments later, Catterall broke through with a left hand and Linares was in big trouble. His legs dipped and he staggered towards the ropes, putting out a glove to hold himself up. Catterall steamed in to finish it but Linares rode out the storm and the bell saved the veteran.
Catterall was patient in the sixth and it seemed like Linares had steadied the ship, even landing some of his own shots towards the end of the session. But it never felt like it was Linares’s fight.
The Englishman was busier in the seventh and he seemed to be in control. Linares was persistent but he could only attack in one-dimensional waves. He would throw shots but then defend. There were no second phase attacks and he could not counter Catterall’s counters.
The Venezuelan was made to fall short with his right hand in the eighth and at the end of the round Catterall began to turn to the screws and life was uncomfortable for the visitor, who looked resigned and frustrated as the contest wore on. Catterall’s pesky jab was often in Linares’s reddening face. It wasn’t hurtful but it was sufficient to score points and served as a constant deterrent, interrupting Linares’s flow, range and timing.
Catterall looked comfortable and steady, boxing within himself. It was not gripping but it was boxing at a good level, although it was sad to see Linares making up the numbers with the fight well beyond him in the championship rounds.
“I managed to do what I set out to do, and that’s get the victory,” said Catterall. “I really enjoyed being in there tonight, he [Linares] definitely still carries that power. At times, when I caught him, I could have done more… These 12 rounds will put me in good stead going forwards for these big fights. He’s a legend.”
Linares was far from deflated in the other corner. “I felt amazing,” he said. “I was excited. I respect him…. I feel happy. He’s an amazing fighter. I’m super happy to be here. I love the people here and I hope I can be here again in the future, but not fighting. Let me see if I continue my career or retire. I don’t need to fight anymore.”