In what was arguably the most stylish and visually pleasing main event of the year in a British ring, super-lightweight Jack Catterall defeated Jorge Linares tonight in Liverpool by a unanimous decision. The scores were 117-111 and 116-112 (twice).
Their performance was impressive and calculated, showcasing technical skill and precision. Every move, feint, and probe served a purpose and contributed to their overall strategy.
However, despite their expertise, the fight itself was lackluster and uneventful. The outcome and method of victory were apparent from the beginning and remained unchanged throughout. There was never any doubt that Jack Catterall, with his record of 28-1 (13), would emerge victorious through a unanimous decision.
Catterall’s dominance in the fight is a testament to his consistency and skill, but the predictability of the match detracted from its excitement. On the other hand, Linares, despite the pre-fight hype, revealed his age and previous defeats, failing to present a tangible and compelling threat to his opponent.
One can only wonder how Linares would have fared against the younger Catterall of five or six years ago. However, it is worth acknowledging that Catterall, based on recent form, is a technically astute and classier fighter than previous opponents like Mitchell, Crolla, and Campbell, whom Linares had defeated in the past.
In fact, it is reasonable to say that Catterall’s technical ability is on par with Linares’s, even at the peak of the Venezuelan’s career. In 2023, this is unquestionable and tonight’s fight only served to confirm it. Although Linares displayed clever tactics and the occasional strong right hand, he lacked a significant and tangible threat. In retrospect, the threat posed by Linares was primarily psychological for Catterall, who had to remain focused for the duration of the fight and respect the intelligence and counterpunching skills of his esteemed opponent.
Aside from those moments, Catterall largely dominated the competition. He controlled the pace of the fight, landing punches at will, and faced limited opposition when he decided to unleash his full potential. One notable moment occurred in the fifth round, when Catterall landed a seemingly harmless southpaw left cross that caused Linares to stagger back. This incident highlighted Linares’s declining punch resistance, a weakness that became more evident as the fight progressed.
In the seventh round, a similar scenario unfolded, with Catterall striking Linares with a powerful left hand. However, instead of retreating, Linares beckoned his opponent on, a sign of frustration rather than bravery. Unlike in his younger days, Linares struggled to respond with his own combinations, leaving him susceptible to Catterall’s punches.
By the eighth round, DAZN, the fight’s broadcaster, revealed that Catterall had successfully connected 57 of 112 thrown punches, demonstrating his accuracy. In the same round, Catterall unleashed three consecutive left hands that further weakened Linares, forcing him into the ropes as the round ended.
This pattern persisted throughout the remaining rounds, making it clear that the fight lacked variety and excitement. It was as if every round was a repetition of the previous one. In the end, one couldn’t help but question the purpose of the fight. If the outcome was predictable and expected by the majority of viewers, including Jack Catterall himself, what lessons could be learned from the fight in Liverpool tonight?