Boxing

Anthony Cacace prepares for British title showdown with unbeaten Sam Bowen

Tommy McCarthy and Anthony Cacace taking part in the Gaeltacht Quarter 10km Run in west Belfast. McCarthy's WBO European win has inspired Cacace as he prepares for a British title showdown in November. Picture by Ann McManus.
Andy Watters

WITH lessons learned from the past, Anthony Cacace will spend his immediate future driving himself on like never before as he prepares for his potentially make-or-break British super-featherweight title clash with Sam Bowen.

Cacace and Bowen tangle on the ‘Midlands Mayhem' bill in Birmingham on November 30 and, after a near miss against Martin Joseph Ward in 2017 and then over a year out of the ring, ‘the Apache' is determined to follow in the footsteps of his friend Tommy McCarthy and finally force a breakthrough win.

Now trained by Harry Hawkins – the coach who guided Bernard Dunne to world glory at super-bantamweight – Cacace says: “Everything I did wrong in the past, I'm not doing it.”

He didn't elaborate on exactly what he'd done “wrong in the past” but suffice to say that the affable and talented west Belfast fighter wasn't as dedicated as he could have been when it came to his training. All that has changed now, he says.

“Training has gone brilliant, I'm doing everything that's needed,” said the former Celtic champion.

“Lessons learned and my diet is good, everything's good.”

Cacace and Bowen were scheduled to meet at the Falls Park, Feile an Phobail spectacular in August. When the Welshman pulled out (for a second time), Cacace felt his big chance had gone.

“I thought: ‘This isn't going to happen',” he says.

“So I just gave training a miss and I went and worked, I tried to get as much work as I could. I was helping out Michael Hawkins jnr doing a bit of gardening, doing a bit of whatever I could do.

“Then the fight was back on and I got back into it and it's been hard because I had that wee bit of a break. The body is still getting used to it!

“Bowen had pulled out twice so I was thinking: ‘He musn't want it and they are leading me up the garden path'. I didn't know what was going on, so boxing was nearly gone.

“But this is a complete turnaround. I was wrong and, to be honest, I should have kept myself in the gym. I didn't but it's good anyway, I feel good about everything, I'm fit and I've been up in Holy Trinity doing a bit of sparring and I feel good.”

Cacace will travel to Birmingham, Bowen's English midlands backyard, as the underdog. Carl Greaves-trained ‘Bullet' is 15-0 and has 11 stoppage wins on his record including his last three fights – against Maxi Hughes for the vacant British belt, Horacio Alfredo Cabral (WBO Inter-Continental super-featherweight title) and, in March, Jordan McCorry in the first defence of his British belt.

“He's taller than I thought,” Cacace told The Irish News after the fighters had come face-to-face at yesterday's press conference.

“He's confident he's going to do a job but I'm just as confident that I'm going to do a job. The only thing that's a wee bit iffy in my mind is my inactivity but I'm hoping to get as many rounds sparring as I can.”

He has been sparring with Holy Trinity prospect Barry McReynolds and British lightweight challenger Paul Hyland and says he will “travel anywhere to get a few rounds”.

“Anything that comes up, I'll take it,” he says.

“I've got five weeks to go so it's going to be torture but good torture with Harry.

“I've known Harry since I was an amateur, he did my corner in the Irish senior final. He knows what he's talking about, he's very experienced and he's in the gym every day. What more could you ask for? I'm enjoying it and it's up to me to put the hard work in – Harry's got the brains and the tactics and I'll do the training.”

Tommy McCarthy's recent success in Trento, Italy provides a roadmap for Cacace to follow. McCarthy had lost twice in high-profile fights before he produced the best performance of his career to dethrone Fabio Turchi and win the WBO international cruiserweight title.

“I've never been so happy for a fighter in my life,” said Cacace.

“Looking at that performance, it makes me think I can do it. It's been a long time coming and I'm going to put it all into this one.”

CONRAD Cummings (17-3-1) will meet unbeaten English southpaw Danny Dignum (11-0) for the WBO European middleweight title at York Hall on November 9.

Tyrone native Cummings, who returned to action after a seven-month lay-off with a win against Adam Grabiec two weeks' ago, has already won-lost-won and lost the WBO belt and is determined to win it for a third time against the Essex prospect.

“All going to plan, I'm going to win this title for a third time,” he said.

“It would jump-start my career again to beat an undefeated fighter, take this title and put myself in the world rankings.

“I've seen a bit of Dignum. He's a tall southpaw and undefeated but I'm seasoned and I've had a lot of tests. I'm going to use all my experience on the night.”

Former Great Britain amateur star Dignum is tall and should prove awkward on the night. He has been well matched since turning pro in late 2016 and Cummings will be a step up in class.

“This has given me so much motivation because I know I'm in a real 50-50 fight – not like other fights I've had where I'm a big favourite,” he said.

“I need to be so much better than I have been before so I'm putting in the work behind the scenes to make sure I'm at my best.

“He has more experience than me in that he's done the rounds and that might play a part in a way but I'm simply going to grab this opportunity with both hands!”

DESPITE the disappointment of having recent Commonwealth title fights at bantamweight and then super-bantamweight cancelled, Cathy McAleer, the North's only professional female boxer, remains determined to realise her dream of becoming a world champion.

The former karate and kick-boxing world champion made her pro boxing debut in November 2018 and, after signing a sponsorship deal with its4women last week, the John Breen-trained for Down Ladies' Gaelic Football star remains focussed on making her dreams come true.

“I was disappointed when I found out that the fight scheduled to take place on Friday, October 25th wasn't going ahead,” said the former Bredagh player.

“I'm not going to let this delay put me off. I've invested a lot of time and energy in my training programme. I'm physically strong and I'm prepared to travel to make the fight happen. I hope to make history as the first lady to fight for a commonwealth title belt.”

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