‘Kid Shamrock’ keen on British title –– but isn’t looking past Jack Flatley

“I wouldn’t like to be a kid now, needing TV exposure, needing fights and coming through in four- and six-rounders.”
JJ Metcalf

“I wouldn’t like to be a kid now, needing TV exposure, needing fights and coming through in four- and six-rounders.”

James Metcalf acknowledged that he was once going through the struggles that await so many young fighters –– just over two weeks before his next title defence.

The Commonwealth super-welterweight champion has been out of the ring since February but admits that he “hasn’t done anything for 16 months”, despite taking out Jan Balog in 32 seconds in his home city of Liverpool.

The 32-year-old’s last meaningful outing came last June against Jason Welborn when the pair battled for the vacant rainbow bauble at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, exclusively live on BT Sport, as part of the supporting cast to Josh Warrington’s IBF world featherweight title defence against Kid Galahad.

And ‘Kid Shamrock’ will return to the same network on October 10, behind closed doors at the BT Sport Studios in Stratford, London, when he meets former English champion Jack Flatley.

“I’m looking forward to getting back in there,” Metcalf told Boxing News TV. “I boxed just before lockdown and I was one of the lucky ones, fortunate enough to have done that, but I need to get a move on now and it all starts with this fight.”

Metcalf’s clash against Flatley provides a strand of the supporting cast to Liam Williams’ British middleweight title defence against mandatory challenger Andrew Robinson, with Anthony Cacace defending his British title at super-featherweight against former WBO European king Lyon Woodstock.

“The reality is that I can’t look past Jack Flatley. He’s a good kid, really good, and we’ve done plenty of sparring together and that could work in favour of either of us on the night, but it’s a good fight for me and I can’t wait to get back in there.”

COVID-19 restrictions means that there will be no fans in attendance on the night –– but big nights and, ultimately, big fights are exactly what is whetting the whistle of Metcalf, who is now fully recovered from a hand operation and in a white-hot division with top contenders both domestically and internationally.

An offer was made for him to fight Jack Culcay shortly after his victory against the aforementioned Welborn but the hand injury put paid to him taking that opportunity.

“I had my hand injury in the fight before I boxed Jason Welborn,” continued Metcalf, “but I knew I couldn’t get the operation until after the Welborn fight because that had already been pencilled in so I just had to gamble and take the chance.”

Metcalf is mandatory to Scott Fitzgerald’s British title at 154 pounds and his fellow Liverpudlian Anthony Fowler also operates in that division.

“I was hoping to fight for the British title, if I’m going to be honest with you, because I’ve been mandatory for a little while, but every time they have a meeting, the [British Boxing] Board [of Control] seem to push it further and further back. I’m just happy that Frank Warren and MTK are getting me out, getting me earning and pushing me closer to something big.

“If Fitzgerald is available to defend the British title, I’d love to fight him for it because that’s a belt that I really want to pick up, but if he’s not and the belt becomes vacant, I’d love to take it against any of the others in the weight.

Fowler was named alongside Kieran Smith, from Greenrigg in Scotland, to do battle in an eliminator to fight the winner of the mandated clash between Fitzgerald and Metcalf.

“Like I said, I wouldn’t like to be a kid now, coming through and not having ticket sales to boost my profile or purse. It’s a bit of a catch-22 because you can have the exposure with the TV but you’re not getting the money or the fanbase because there aren’t any fans.

“The Fowler fight would be a massive one for the city but it’s a big fight anyway because we’re both similarly with the sanctioning bodies. Not only that, it’s not one that could happen in these times because I think it needs a crowd. It’s one of those where the atmosphere would be brilliant.

“First thing’s first, though, I’ve got to beat Jack Flatley and that’s not an easy thing to do because he’s a good fighter and it’s a tough fight, but my main aim is to fight whoever I can for that British title. I feel like I’m owed a shot.”

Undefeated talents Ryan Garner, Mark Chamberlain, Dennis McCann and Michael Burke Jr. will box on the card, while there is a return to the ring for former Central Area super-bantamweight champion Muheeb Fazeldin, Nathan Gorman looks to get back on the horse against Richard Lartey following last July’s crushing defeat at the hands of British heavyweight champion Daniel Dubois and Scotland’s former world amateur champion Willy Hutchinson will be in action when he faces an opponent to be confirmed for the vacant IBF European title at super-middleweight.

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