James Metcalf was shielded from the game at an early age however that didn’t cease him from eager to comply with 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 growth that will 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 turn into certainly one of Britain’s largest battle stars on the flip of the millennium.
A WBU champion at 140lbs, a belt not broadly accepted as a reliable championship however one nonetheless worn with pleasure 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 enviornment – the waterfront venue wasn’t even on the strategy planning 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 certainly one of Liverpool’s all-time classics as Neary went to warfare 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 have 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 resolution to not let me go and it doesn’t matter what I stated, 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 number of the fights he was concerned in and I’m gutted that I wasn’t capable of be there as he was all the time in boss fights.”
Neary was on the verge of the large time, with potential fights in America looming when Micky Ward got here alongside firstly of 2000. Their memorable conflict, an schooling within the artwork of physique assaults, was determined by Ward’s personal devastating skill to assault his opponent’s midsection. The battle would later obtain Hollywood remedy 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 yr, Neary was defeated for the second time in three fights when a controversial factors verdict was handed to the Belfast man. “The Shamrock Specific” would by no means battle once more.
Regardless of being unable to look at his hero from shut quarters, the boxing bug had bitten Metcalf. A pupil at Liverpool’s legendary Salisbury boxing membership as an beginner, Metcalf, with the assistance of the coaches at ‘The Solly’ and likewise 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 ultimate bout.
“It was the precise time to go over. I’d been in gyms since I used to be a younger lad with the top objective being to show professional and as soon as I had an ABA title then it appeared like the perfect time to crack on with the professionals. You hear it stated so much about folks having a professional type while within the amateurs however that’s true for me due to the best way 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 beginner titles. It was to show professional and win the large belts that manner.”
Along with his apprenticeship full, and along with his shot on the British title approaching, Metcalf has grand ambitions to make use of the Cheeseman battle 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 big 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 battle he’s lengthy been prepared for.
“I’ve wished exams like this for a very long time as a result of I understand how good I’m,” he stated. “I’ve acquired my dad looking for me and there’s Georgie [Schofield], the person who taken care of 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 and so they know I’ve what it takes to win titles. Cheeseman is a battle that I all the time had a sense would occur and it doesn’t matter when it happened, I all the time believed I’d win and now I’ve the prospect to show it.”
Heading to Gibraltar, Metcalf, a frequent fixture on Frank Warren’s BT Sport exhibits, will battle on his maiden Matchroom occasion because of Eddie Hearn’s successful purse bid. Absolutely conscious he’s the ‘away fighter’ towards Cheeseman – an everyday show-stealer on Sky Sports activities broadcasts – Metcalf light-heartedly raised a priority.
“A couple of of the latest scorecards have gotten me apprehensive,” joked Metcalf with a uncommon giggle. “However I can’t fear about judges or controversy as a result of I do know I’ve ready the perfect I presumably can. Cheeseman is an efficient 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 perfect ever model of Ted Cheeseman and there’ll be no excuses from me on the evening.”
Victory over Cheeseman will propel Metcalf at 154lbs however it’s nearer to residence the place he could finally 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 speak of moving into with such names as a result of the opposite fighters from the place I’m from can clearly battle,” he stated. “It’s pure that there’s going to be speak about 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 relatively do it within the ring however for now I’ve to only have a look at Cheeseman. It’s an opportunity that’s been a very long time coming for me so It’d be unsuitable to consider different fighters. Cheeseman has my full consideration for now and after that battle we’ll see what’s on the market.”