James Metcalf was shielded from the game at an early age however that didn’t cease him from desirous to observe in his well-known father’s footsteps, writes Chris Walker
A YOUNG James Metcalf wasn’t allowed to attend his father’s fights. As Shea Neary planted the seeds for a Liverpool boxing increase that may later be watered by the likes of Derry Mathews, Tony Bellew and the Smith brothers, Metcalf must make do with watching his dad on tv as he threatened to develop into one among Britain’s largest combat stars on the flip of the millennium.
A WBU champion at 140lbs, a belt not extensively accepted as a official championship however one nonetheless worn with delight after he took it from American veteran Darryl Tyson, Neary was on the cusp of the large time earlier than his metropolis was able to host his rise. With out a native area – the waterfront venue wasn’t even on the starting stage again then – Neary’s promoters needed to get artistic to money in on the fighter’s immense recognition.
Stanley Park, famed for its no man’s land fame between the footballing battlegrounds of Anfield and Goodison Park, turned the location for one among Liverpool’s all-time classics as Neary went to struggle with native rival Andy Holligan in March 1998. A grand marquee housed ITV cameras as Liverpool’s newest boxing hero impressed in entrance of a midweek terrestrial viewers. Metcalf, a schoolboy on the time, can bear in mind the frustrations of his sitting room vantage level as his father went to work.
“They had been all good nights however I simply want I used to be capable of go,” displays Metcalf, days out from his imminent British title problem towards Ted Cheeseman. “My dad was very agency on his determination to not let me go and it doesn’t matter what I mentioned, he wouldn’t change his thoughts. I’d promise to be good and to behave myself, and never open my mouth, however there was nothing I might do to steer him. I look again at his profession and a few of the fights he was concerned in and I’m gutted that I wasn’t capable of be there as he was at all times in boss fights.”
Neary was on the verge of the large time, with potential fights in America looming when Micky Ward got here alongside at the beginning of 2000. Their memorable conflict, an schooling within the artwork of physique assaults, was determined by Ward’s personal devastating capacity to assault his opponent’s midsection. The combat would later obtain Hollywood therapy because of Mark Wahlberg’s portrayal of Ward in The Fighter, however for Neary, it was a consequence that crushed his hopes of hitting the large time.
Going through Eamonn Magee later that 12 months, Neary was defeated for the second time in three fights when a controversial factors verdict was handed to the Belfast man. “The Shamrock Categorical” would by no means combat once more.
Regardless of being unable to observe his hero from shut quarters, the boxing bug had bitten Metcalf. A scholar at Liverpool’s legendary Salisbury boxing membership as an novice, Metcalf, with the assistance of the coaches at ‘The Solly’ and in addition lending the steering of his dad, went from being ‘Shea Neary’s lad’ to ABA champion in 2011 with a dominant show over the extra skilled Tom Baker. He would quickly flip skilled, 11 years after his father’s remaining bout.
“It was the appropriate time to go over. I’d been in gyms since I used to be a younger lad with the tip aim being to show professional and as soon as I had an ABA title then it appeared like the most effective time to crack on with the professionals. You hear it mentioned lots about individuals having a professional type while within the amateurs however that’s true for me due to the way in which I’ve been raised and the fighters I’ve been round since I used to be a younger lad. The plan for me wasn’t a load of novice titles. It was to show professional and win the large belts that means.”
Together with his apprenticeship full, and together with his shot on the British title approaching, Metcalf has grand ambitions to make use of the Cheeseman combat as a platform in direction of the kind of showdowns he has dreamed of since mimicking his father as a toddler. The place Cheeseman represents a major step up from the likes of Damon Jones, Serge Ambomo and Jason Welborn, the standout names on Metcalf’s ledger, the steely Liverpudlian believes it’s a combat he’s lengthy been prepared for.
“I’ve wished checks like this for a very long time as a result of I understand how good I’m,” he mentioned. “I’ve bought my dad looking for me and there’s Georgie [Schofield], the person who sorted my dad and who is aware of the boxing inside out. There’s nothing he doesn’t know. The 2 of them are sincere with me they usually know I’ve what it takes to win titles. Cheeseman is a combat that I at all times had a sense would occur and it doesn’t matter when it came about, I at all times believed I’d win and now I’ve the possibility to show it.”
Heading to Gibraltar, Metcalf, a frequent fixture on Frank Warren’s BT Sport exhibits, will combat on his maiden Matchroom occasion because of Eddie Hearn’s successful purse bid. Totally conscious he’s the ‘away fighter’ towards Cheeseman – a daily show-stealer on Sky Sports activities broadcasts – Metcalf light-heartedly raised a priority.
“A number of of the current scorecards have gotten me nervous,” joked Metcalf with a uncommon snort. “However I can’t fear about judges or controversy as a result of I do know I’ve ready the most effective I probably can. Cheeseman is an effective fighter and he’s been concerned in some good fights that I’ve loved watching. Whether or not that’s placing miles on his clock is one other factor however I’m getting ready for the most effective ever model of Ted Cheeseman and there’ll be no excuses from me on the evening.”
Victory over Cheeseman will propel Metcalf at 154lbs but it surely’s nearer to house the place he might in the end show himself. Liam Smith is firmly established at world stage and Anthony Fowler is at present demonstrating the kind of kind that would take him there.
“It’s good that there’s discuss of stepping into with such names as a result of the opposite fighters from the place I’m from can clearly combat,” he mentioned. “It’s pure that there’s going to be discuss fights sooner or later as a result of that’s what occurs in boxing isn’t it? I’m not that lad who’s going to start out calling out names as a result of I’d slightly do it within the ring however for now I’ve to simply take a look at Cheeseman. It’s an opportunity that’s been a very long time coming for me so It’d be flawed to consider different fighters. Cheeseman has my full consideration for now and after that combat we’ll see what’s on the market.”