Jack Catterall routed Jorge Linares via unanimous decision on Saturday in Liverpool, England, in a 12-round junior welterweight bout.
England’s Catterall prevailed via scores of 117-111 116-112 and 116-112. He doesn’t hold any titles, but is ESPN’s No. 1 boxer at 140 pounds following a controversial decision loss to Josh Taylor for the undisputed championship last year.
Catterall (28-1, 13 KOs) stunned Linares in Round 5 with a left hand that forced him to grab the ropes. Catterall appeared to hurt him several times later in the bout, but Linares was never in danger of being stopped after being TKOed in his previous two fights.
“Times when I did catch him, I probably should have gone more (at him),” said Catterall, who ended a 15-month layoff with a decision win over Darragh Foley in May. “These 12 rounds with Jorge are going to put me in good shape heading into these big fights. … I did what I set out to do. … Taylor, where are you? Let’s have it.”
That remains the biggest fight for Catterall, even if Taylor is no longer a champion after he was soundly defeated by Teofimo Lopez in June.
Eddie Hearn, Catterall’s promoter, said he’ll contact Taylor promoter Top Rank to begin talks for a potential rematch in early 2024. Taylor plans to campaign at 147 pounds; Hearn said they’re open to a catchweight bout.
“It’s personal now,” said Catterall, who was set to fight Taylor in March before Taylor suffered a foot injury. “He’s said some nasty things over the last 18 months and I think we’ve got a score to settle.
” … I’m going to need a Josh Taylor, a Devin Haney, a Regis Prograis to bring the best out of me and bring that fire.”
Cattterall boxed beautifully against Linares to secure the biggest win of his career. The 38-year old was game but no match for Catterall’s slick southpaw style.
Catterall, 30, measured Linares with his jab and often made him pay with a looping left hand. Linares (47-9, 29 KOs) occasionally showed the athleticism that made him a three-division champion but more often missed with right hands.
Linares was cut over his left eye in Round 2 following a clash of heads. And his eye was swollen after the bout. It’s unclear if he’ll continue with his career following four consecutive losses. The Venezuelan was stopped in his previous two outings, both in Russia, preceded by a decision defeat to Haney.
“To lose with this guy, I feel amazing; I feel happy,” Linares said. ” … He’s an amazing fighter. … I don’t need to fight anymore. I’m super happy with this fight.”
Catterall’s timing and ability off the back foot were far too much for Linares to contend with and is likely to be a handful for any of the champions at 140 pounds. Catterall entered the ring an 8-1 favorite and is now hoping for another title shot next year, if not a shot at revenge.
“Every fighter wants to win a world title, but every fighter wants a fight with that build-up,” said Hearn, who also mentioned the Dec. 9 winner of Haney-Prograis as a possibility. ” … There will be no respect against Josh Taylor. It’s a fight everybody wants to see.”