During what was always likely going to be a tense fight week, Jamie Moore affords himself a laugh.

His boxer, Jack Catterall, is preparing for the grudge fight of the year so far, against his old rival Josh Taylor.

They will meet at the First Direct Arena in Leeds tonight (May 25) in a rerun of their more-than-two-year-old first fight that caused outrage when Taylor was awarded a split decision win in a fight many thought he’d lost. Moore and assistant trainer Nigel Travis were enraged that night.

But on the eve of Taylor-Catterall II, Salford’s Moore is a more jovial figure.

Moore was once a fine fighter – a swarming southpaw who could punch, who had thrilling fight-of-the-year contenders with Michael Jones, Matthew Macklin and Ryan Rhodes, and who won the European title but never got a shot at a world title. He was an aggressive body puncher – insanely fit but had a smart boxing brain to match.

As a fighter, he was far more Taylor than Catterall. 

“From a fighting point of view, I’d probably say I’d have been the ideal sparring partner for Jack – it’s just a good job I got rid of my headguard and gumshield years ago, otherwise I’d have jumped in there and been doing a few rounds with him,” Moore joked. “But in many ways, when you’re a coach, because that [Taylor’s] was my type of style of fighting, you sort of understand the kryptonite, how to get around it, so I know the style that would have been my nightmare, and it would have been someone like Jack. 

“Look at Ryan Rhodes, and I know you’re looking at the end of my career, but look at that awkward movement, good defense, [a] hard-hitting southpaw caused me problems at the end of my career and that’s a very similar situation to what we’re looking at here.”

Some believe Taylor is near the end, but the Scot reckons he is set to scale another mountain. Moore hopes his charge, Chorley’s Catterall, will notch the biggest win of his career and move towards the world-title fight he craves. 

The 30-year-old Catterall has only lost to Taylor. He’s 28-1 (13 KOs) and a sharp-shooting southpaw who understands the importance and value of defense. 

That, however, as Catterall points out, has brought stinging criticism from those who view his style as negative. 

Moore, however, has nothing but praise for the type of fighter Catterall has become and reveals that the knocks on Catterall’s style have bothered him.

“I have taken a bit of it to heart, mainly because I know what Jack’s been through,” Moore explained. “He’s been through a lot of blockage [stalling in his career], the amount of times he did the right thing for the sport in general, in terms of allowing fights to happen – for instance [Jose] Ramirez and Taylor – he could have blocked that, because he’d already stepped aside where you need to give grace for a unification fight and he could have pushed for that but he didn’t for the greater good.

“Let’s not tell lies, it was also better for him [Catterall] because then he got the chance to fight for the undisputed, but what has annoyed me over the years with some of the criticism that’s come for Jack’s style, not going out there and having that Arturo Gatti-type style, though they’ll highly praise someone like [Vasiliy] Lomachenko or Shakur Stevenson for the same type of style, obviously not exactly the same but they nullify their opponents and can outbox them, and Jack’s got criticism for it.

“To criticise someone for mastering the art of the sport of hitting and not getting hit, for me, goes a little bit too far.”

Taylor has said in the build-up that Catterall is poor on the front foot, so maybe there’s a sign the Scot will wait for his enemy to repeatedly make the first move. It could be tactical; it might be slow. Moore says they’ve prepared with various sparring partners so they are covered for any strategic eventuality. 

But the coach is also not ruling out violence to match the hostilities felt between the two rivals outside the ring. This could be a war.

“Maybe this is going to be it on Saturday,” Moore added excitedly. “Every now and again, styles gel and I honestly believe Josh is going to come with fire on Saturday. Why wouldn’t he? He’s got a point to prove and we’ve got to anticipate that he underestimated Jack and all the things he’s saying where, ‘I took my eye off the ball, I’d achieved a lot, I didn’t take it serious’ – we’ve got to take it for granted and expect a better Josh Taylor. 

“Now if he comes flying out the blocks and puts the pressure on Jack, then number one we’re ready for it. We’re expecting it. And number two, it might force Jack into a position where he goes, ‘Okay, let’s go. Let’s have it’. And we’ve prepared for that and we’re ready.”

Both fighters say they are better this time around, that they have learned more and understand more – about themselves and each other. Moore feels that Taylor knows he got away with the decision last time, and is affording the Scot the courtesy of believing that, at 33, the ex-champ is better than ever.

“In many ways, if Josh does the same thing again, then I know he got the decision last time but I honestly believe that deep down he thinks he was lucky and Jack had been out of the ring 16 months,” Moore went on. “If they go and do the same thing again, then you can’t do the same thing and expect a different result, and Jack’s going to be better this time. I’m assuming Josh is going to be better, but if he’s doing the same thing then we’re ready for it but I’m pretty certain he’s going to try something different.”

Then, it would feasibly come down to the judges. Despite some sleepless nights in the aftermath of the first contest, Moore is not dwelling on how the scorecards might look if the fight goes that far in Leeds. He just wants them to be fair.

“I hope so,” Moore said. “We really can’t look into it. You really can’t take that into the equation of how you’re training and how you’re going about your game plan, because how do you tailor the game plan around how the judges are going to interpret what you’re doing? It’s impossible to do. You’ve just got to hope to God that they see what you’re seeing and appreciate the quality of work that you’re doing and the right man gets his hand raised.”

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