Now or never as Anthony Cacace prepares for title rumble with Martin J Ward
IT'S now or never says Anthony Cacace as he looked ahead to his British and Commonwealth super-featherweight title rumble with Martin J Ward next month.
Belfast fighter Cacace meets unbeaten Ward at Wembley Arena on July 15 (live on ITV Box Office) and, after a couple of near-misses in what has been a stop-start career, he knows he has to grab this opportunity “with both hands”.
Cacace, now training with Ray Ginley after spells with Shane McGuigan and Brian Magee, is 15-0 but has only fought twice since he beat Ronnie Clark in Glasgow to win the Celtic Nations title back in October 2015.
He has been sparring with unbeaten English super-feather Jordan Gill in the build-up to the fight and is confident he'll be ready for Ward who beat Andy Townend to win the title in September last year and has since defended it against Clarke and Maxi Hughes.
“Everything's going well,” said Cacace.
“I'm sharp, there's still another two weeks' of work to do so I have plenty of time and I'm doing eight rounds handy enough so it should be a good fight.
“The way I look at Ward, he has a nice one-two, a good double jab, right hand and a nice left hook but other than that I think I've got his number. You never know obviously, but we're trying to get Jordan to do that sort of stuff and then work off that – find gaps and work on shots for me to catch him.
“I've watched his last four fights just to make sure that I know everything about him and I'm confident, I think the work I've put in in this camp will stand by me and that everything we've been working on will work on the night.”
This is the opportunity that Cacace has been waiting on since he landed the Celtic Nations title. His split with Cyclone Promotions stalled his momentum and he wants to make up for lost time by beating Ward and kicking on with his career.
“I thought maybe I would have had this kind of shot a year or two ago,” he said.
“It didn't happen, but it's happening now and I'm enjoying every minute of it. It's on ITV Box Office on a big card (the undercard of Chris Eubank jnr v Arthur Abraham) and I couldn't ask for any more exposure – it's great for me and it's great for Martin Ward as well.”
Cacace has boxed on Carl Frampton undercards in the past and hopes to follow in the footsteps of his friend, ‘the Jackal' by making a name for himself in his own right.
“Outside of Belfast and outside of the people that know boxing, nobody really notices me,” he said.
“I want that to change and the only way I could do that is to get fights like this and to win fights like this. So I've got my opportunity now and I'm going to try and take it with both hands.
“Ray (Ginley) is a young coach who wants to learn and I rate him very highly. Since I've got together with him we have been working really well – he's got a good work ethic, he's always in the gym and pushing me to my limits.
“He knows me, I knew him growing up and we were in Philadelphia together. He's a really good coach and he puts the hard work in which is the main thing.”
Victory on July 15 will taste all the sweeter since Cacace seriously considered hanging up his gloves after he returned home from London last year.
“There was a stage when I was very close to walking away from boxing,” he admitted.
“Before I signed with (manager) Pat Magee I thought ‘I'll never box again, I'll go and get a job' because I have a young family and boxing is a hard game to make money in and to do well in.
“I thought that was me finished, before this opportunity arose. But it has arisen and I've always been in the gym, I was away sparring Ant Crolla and things like that.
“It has come dead on for me and it's now or never. If I win these British and Commonwealth titles I'm absolutely flying because Martin Ward is rated number two in Europe and he's in the top 15 in the world.
“It bounces me right where I want to be.”
CONRAD Cummings still hasn't given up hope of landing a shot at WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders.
Negotiations between Saunders's handlers and Cyclone Promotions reached an advanced stage after Saunders's WBO middleweight defence against Avtandil Khurtsidze was cancelled because the Russian challenger was arrested for alleged links to organised crime.
In the end, the WBO ruled that Saunders had to face his mandatory challenger instead but Cummings, who takes on Poland's Robert Swierzbinski on the undercard of Frampton v Andres Gutierrez on July 29, still wants the fight.
“A lot of people called me mad for wanting the fight,” said the Coalisland man.
“But things are never straightforward and I've learned a lot in my career.
“When his opponent was arrested he wanted a fight and I was in camp training and sparring with George Groves and there was a real possibility I could have gone in with him.
“The two teams spoke and there was real progress being made, they were happy but the issue was that he had to fight his mandatory.
“But if he gets past that he could be next. Why not? It's a fight I would like, it's a very hard fight but it's a fight I believe I can win.
“I've sparred him and I believe I've got the tools to beat him. I know people have good days and bad days in sparring, but from what I took from those spars I'd be very confident I could beat Billy Joe.”
Before that of course, Cummings has to deal with Swierzbinski who has an 18-6-2 record since turning pro in 2010.
“He has won all his fights with guys that are below world level,” Cummings explained.
“The likes of Chris Eubank jnr, David Lemieux and Hassan N'Dam are all world level fighters so it's a step up for me and I'm looking forward to it. I'm in good shape, I've been in camp now because I came in to help Groves for his world title fight.
“I'm well ahead of schedule so I'll stay relaxed and look forward to the big night.”
As Cummings pointed out, Swierzbinski has fallen short of the top bracket but he has bounced back from a loss to N'Dam by winning the vacant WBF International middleweight title.
“He fought a 12-0 prospect in his last fight and he drew with him so that gets your attention,” said Cummings.
“I've had highs in my career and some lows. My belt was hard to get and it's not going anywhere.”