With their grudge match days away, Jack Catterall is still getting asked about his fight in Leeds on Saturday night with Josh Taylor by members of the general public, but they are not about whether he can win.

Catterall was unlucky to lose a contentious decision to Taylor when they met in February 2022 for the unified super lightweight crown in Glasgow. It was a fiercely contested clash, but many felt Catterall would have his hand raised after the 12 rounds had been completed.

Since then, the return has been on and off several times. Most recently it was slated for last month, but Taylor needed to let an eye injury heal and the fight was postponed again, until Saturday (May 25).

“The most frequent question I get asked, I’ve come out of a commercial gym this morning and a bloke said to me, ‘All the best, but I don’t think it happens’,” Catterall smiled. “I said, ‘I bloody hope so. It’s only a few days away.’

“People are not confident Josh makes it to the ring. That’s what I’m getting asked. As many tickets as we’ve done, as many people are coming to support, people keep asking, ‘Is Josh gonna turn up?’ So, I hope so.”

The First Direct Arena in Leeds is an 11,000 sell-out. It is arguably a bigger fight this time around, with no titles on the line, such is the interest in their grudge. It has implications at 140lbs internationally, but neither Taylor nor Catterall will be looking beyond one another. Catterall believes the fight has grown over time.

“We boxed the first time, my first opportunity to fight for a world title, undisputed for all four belts, but then we look at the last two years, the interactions we’ve both had, I’m guessing Josh will be the same, no matter where I go, up and down the country, if I’m abroad, I get stopped and asked about Josh. So I’ve known the demand is there for the fight.

“It’s a big fight for both of us. Is there other fights out there? Of course there is. It sells out an arena in the U.K. and not many are doing that, and it’s a big domestic fight.”

Catterall has always wanted the rematch. He felt hard done by previously, but Taylor wanted to move on to bigger and better things. And when they couldn’t get the rematch on, initially, Taylor boxed Teofimo Lopez in Madison Square Garden in New York and lost for the first time in his career.

And Catterall admits there have been moments when he didn’t think they would box again.

“Yeah a few times,” Catterall said. “We were scheduled last year, six weeks before the fight, the day before the announcement, it got pulled. We’ve had a four-week delay a number of weeks ago. He went off and boxed Lopez last year after saying he wanted the rematch, saying it was his last fight at 140lbs, vacated three of the four belts to then keep hold of the WBO and fight Lopez. None of it made sense. 

“There were times I’d moved on in my head, but it was a fight the public, the boxing fans were demanding. It was still getting spoken about so there was a little bit of me that held onto it and thought, ‘You know what? I think we are going to get this fight’.”

And with Taylor doing his own thing, Catterall scored wins over Darragh Foley and Jorge Linares and he was plotting his own route to the top, without going through the Scot.

“Just before we were entering the final stages of the negotiations, we was made an eliminator with Richardson Hitchins, that fight was talked about, but we were already into a deep negotiation to fight Josh, so that got put to one side, but they’re the fights that were getting talked about, to get me back into position to fight for a world title,” Catterall said.

And the Chorley man was an interested observer when Taylor fought Teo in New York last June. 

“Poor,” he said, asked to describe Taylor’s performance. “I was doing interviews leading up to the fight and I picked Josh to win the fight, for me, with how Teofimo was acting before the fight [erratically], he wasn’t there emotionally but proved us wrong. 

“I thought he [Taylor] looked ‘shot’. Three or four rounds in, his legs were gone. He was falling short consistently throughout the fight. He couldn’t gauge the distance and I thought Teo had his way with him.”   

And while Catterall says he is preparing for the best Taylor, he thinks that the Scottish star will not be able to go back to his peak, when he unified at 140lbs by scalping Jose Ramirez and Regis Prograis.

“I’ve said it and I believe that, I believe Josh has touched the ceiling and make no mistake, I’m preparing for the Josh that beat Ramirez, that was on form and ran through the division and won all the titles, that’s the Josh I’m expecting on fight night,” Catterall said. “But, on the same hand, I think he’s had a lot of tough fights, he’s a couple of years older than me and I do feel he’s touched the ceiling.”