Jack Catterall’s former trainer has warned him that how he performed in his first fight with Josh Taylor will not be enough if he wants to win their rematch on Saturday night.

The long-term rivals fight again, at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, little over two years after their first fight evolved into one of the greatest scoring controversies of modern times.

Despite knocking Taylor down and, to the minds of most observers, convincingly outboxing him, Catterall was scored the loser that night via a split decision. For all that Taylor has fought – and lost – only once since, partly owing to a succession of injuries, on the eve of their rematch Lee Beard is expecting him to be considerably improved.

In the aftermath of his poorest performance as a professional the 33-year-old Taylor replaced Ben Davison as his trainer with Joe McNally. He also appears focused and as though he is fighting with a point to prove, having been guilty of underestimating Catterall’s abilities first time around.

Beard had predicted victory for Catterall ahead of the first of their two fights. He guided the 30-year-old from towards the end of his amateur career to his first 16 victories as a professional – the defeat by Taylor was the first Catterall suffered – and having watched him continue to succeed under Jamie Moore, he said: “Jack knows he beat him the first time. He knows he’s got the beating of him, but – and I know he’s got more to his arsenal as well – I don’t think Jack will win the fight by doing the same things as he done in the first fight. Josh is gonna come in prepared.

“I wouldn’t say Jack has to perform better than the first time, I just think he has to do certain other things that he does have in his arsenal. I don’t think he’ll win the fight by doing the same things he did the first time, because Josh is gonna come with different plans. I don’t think Josh looked at his best in the first fight. But that doesn’t take anything away from Jack, who’d not been at that level before and still performed the way he performed.

“Josh has also got to go in there with Jack knowing that Jack’s got a different confidence this time around than he did the first time. Jack’s quite a calm and collected customer anyway – if you see his body language, he’s very laidback. Both are gonna have to make adjustments differently in this fight than they did in the first fight. 

“Josh has got a different setup to in the first fight. Whether he tries to put pressure on Jack or box, he’ll have a different setup. What he did the first time was rush a lot of his work. I’ve got a feeling he’s gonna try and bring Jack forward on to him, but we’ll see. He probably knows it was so difficult to get near to him, and Jack being on the back foot – he controls the space brilliantly. It’s an interesting fight, this one. Jack has different things he’s not been showing, but I know they’re there. 

“A lot of fighters get to that stage – they get so close to the finishing line – and a number of factors can come into account, and [during their first fight] Jack looked a little bit anxious late on, because he was so close to getting over the line. He’d put Josh down; he’d had a point off, and those factor into the mindset of a fighter – where it’s close, and it’s for the undisputed title. It’s the biggest thing in boxing, isn’t it? Of course he got anxious. Fighting for one world title and getting over the line would potentially create a bit of anxiousness in a fighter. If it was for the same reward as the last fight, I don’t think Jack would be as anxious late on now. He’s got experience now. Josh is an experienced campaigner – he’s a bit more suited to them late rounds.”

Beard will miss Taylor-Catterall II because he is in Canada with Mark Heffron, who fights Christian Mbilli, but asked what it is that makes Catterall so effective a fighter, he responded: “The style he’s got – people can look at that and think what they think, but when they’re in there with him they find out that it’s difficult. It’s difficult to close the space on him, and even if they can do that, it’s not easy to land on him. 

“I try to teach my lads to get to a point where it’s very hard to beat them, and Jack is very hard to beat, and that’s why he’s still doing what he’s doing. With the first Taylor fight, Josh got in good positions from the first round, but he was unable to capitalise because when he was in good areas, Jack was still difficult to land on. It’s easy to look at Jack until they’re in there with him. Tom Stalker said, ‘When I was in there, I was thinking where the hell’s this jab coming from?’. Jack’s jab was on point the whole time. Someone’s throwing shots – even Josh in his last fight – they’re gonna miss a certain amount of times, and the counters are coming in as well. When Josh stepped back a little bit, that gave Jack the opportunity to be able to time Josh coming in, which made it more difficult for Josh to get in. I did think Jack would win the first fight. I thought he could actually stop Josh as well – he’s a bigger puncher than people actually realise.

“One of Jack’s biggest assets was his willingness to learn and work. He’s very, very disciplined – very disciplined. He lived in Chorley and it was an hour to where I was based at the gym, and he’d do that six days a week for four, five years – non-stop. He went to America; we brought him over numerous times into camps; learning; training; doing his own thing, with or without a fight. Very, very focused – a hard-working young lad.

“He would practice things to develop his defensive skills, and things that we were working on, bit by bit, to get right. It was a long process that was inputted into him. Even in the early stages of his career he was beating lads; dominating lads; stopping good lads, because he was learning things out of the box that the British lads was unaware of at that time. He’s always been very disciplined; very, very focused. His willingness to go six days a week for years – he’d do it. I always believed Jack would get to the world stage. Even before he beat [in 2014] Nathan Brough – he was ready then to really push on.

“I fancied Jack the first time. I think this is more even. Josh looks good as well – he looks prepared. Jack’s got to do different things. My only concern is that he’s not been showing them. But that could be due to the styles that he’s been in with. If Josh is turned up like he can do and it looks like he is, he could get over the line this time – close points.”

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