“It feels absolutely and utterly fantastic.”
Anthony Cacace (18-1, 7 KOs) is a happy man. Seven years as a professional boxer, periods of inactivity and frustration as well as not fulfilling his potential, finally paid off in Birmingham last Saturday night against Sam Bowen.
The mandatory challenger fought fire with fire to end Bowen’s reign in his second defence. And after a split decision verdict Cacace became the new British Super Featherweight champion.
Belfast’s Cacace was on the road for the second time in a British title fight having fought Martin J Ward for the Lonsdale belt over two years ago. That night saw Cacace lose a close, competitive fight on the scorecards. From there Cacace would box once more in 2017, against Reynaldo Mora (PTS 6), have no fights in 2018 and then just one eight rounder in February this year against Alan Isaias Luques Castillo (PTS 8).
“To be honest, and this is the total and honest truth, if I hadn’t got the nod on the night [against Bowen] me and boxing were done,” Cacace told Boxing Scene. “And that’s the truth. I’ve been through a lot in this game emotionally, and my family has too. I just thought if I never get it this time then what am I going to do.”
After a successful amateur career featuring 160 fights, winning seven All-Ireland titles, Ulster Senior Titles and three Four Nations gold medals there was good reason to believe that Cacace would go on to have a successful professional career which began against Ben Wager at the Emerald Roadhouse in Belfast over seven years ago.
In an interview given in 2014 Cacace told Glynn Evans for Boxnation that his motto was ‘Winners Never Quit, Quitters Never Win!’ For him to become a winner something had to change, something had to click, something had to happen. Cacace admits he had under-performed in his career prior to Saturday night. So what changed against Bowen?
“To be honest it was my family, my kids. Everything was playing in my head,” he answered.
“I knew I needed to do this for them. I knew if things got tough I had to bite down on my gum shield and keep rattling away and that’s exactly what I done. It was tough. It was a hard, gruelling fight.”
Cacace says his next fight will probably be March 2020 and would love nothing more than to defend his belt back home in Belfast. The switch hitter now has a real chance to establish himself as a genuine force beyond British level enabling him to earn some good money for his family. The past two years, which as mentioned included no fights in 2018, has been financially tough for Cacace.
“I’ve been living like a poor man for the past two years,” he revealed. “I haven’t had any money. I’ve just been holding on to this wee pipe dream. When I was told I was mandatory [for the British title] I said to myself, I’ve never performed at all. Never performed to what I do in sparring and I said, I’m gonna do this. I’ve done half of what I can do. There’s plenty more to come from me. Plenty.”
The new champion now holds the cards at the British Super Featherweight table and the eyes of contenders will now be laser focussed on the fresh face at number one.
“That’s the best part about all of this. I’ve never been in a position to call the shots. And right now I believe I am. The likes of Zelfa Barrett, Archie Sharp... they’ll want the title. But that’s up to me now, they’re going to have to come and see me.”