FORMER Leeds roofer Reece Cartwright told himself he would have to reach a certain level to make his career as a professional boxer worthwhile.
“I told myself that if I win that British title, it’s made my career worth it,” admits the 24-year-old middleweight from Halton. Four and a half years on, Cartwright says he is halfway there having become English middleweight champion.
A shot at Jason Welborn’s British belt is hoped to be next – with young dad Cartwright admitting even becoming British champion would fuel dreams of even bigger glories like those achieved by world champion gym mate Billy Joe Saunders.
Rick Manners Boxing Club ace Cartwright savoured the most important victory of his career at Walsall town hall last weekend. Facing West Midlands fighter Tyler Denny for the vacant English middleweight crown, Cartwright defeated his opponent via an eighth-round stoppage to seal his first senior professional title – 14 months after becoming IBF youth middleweight champion when defeating Jan Meiser at New Dock Hall in Leeds.
That success was followed by Cartwright’s only defeat in a 23-fight career to Rafael Chiruta but the Yorkshireman has hit back with five successive victories, cumulating in becoming champion of England. If Cartwright has his way, the British title will be next and fuelled by inspiration from Saunders and Josh Warrington, Cartwright hopes the progress will not end there. Cartwright told the YEP: “When I started out, I turned professional to win the British title and this English title is half way there. It’s a massive step towards it and it means a lot to me. I’m not sure what’s next – I’m having a week with my family and spending time with my boy and I am going to speak to my manager after this week and see what we have been offered.
“I want that British title and if I could get a shot at that, that would be absolutely amazing but if not and I have to defend this first then I’ll do that. I’m willing to fight in Leeds or travel and I don’t mind travelling at all.”
I want that British title and if I could get a shot at that, that would be absolutely amazing but if not and I have to defend this first then I’ll do that.Reece Cartwright
Cartwright added: “The British title is Jason Welborn’s at the minute, until I get there. I’d love to fight him. He’s a brilliant boxer, he’s proved that as he has beaten Tommy Langford twice. He’s made his first defence of it and he’s a brilliant boxer. But I reckon I would beat him and I wouldn’t mind travelling to Birmingham to do that.”
Cartwright was cheered on to victory by a decent following from Leeds in Walsall with his success also celebrated in Sheffield where the boxer trains alongside some of the sport’s biggest names at Ingle Gym. One of them – Saunders – is the WBO champion at Cartwright’s weight.
“I’m training at Ingle’s with Billy Joe so that’s that option out!” laughed Cartwright. “But if I got a shot like that, I suppose we’d have to sort something. I’d take any fight at all.
“I’m still on the ladder so I’ll take what I can get. Training at Ingle’s is great. It’s a massive camp and full of big names. There’s Billy Joe Saunders, Jason Quigley, Liam Williams, Atif Shafiq, Kid Galahad, Willy Hutchinson – it’s wicked. The best thing about them is that there are world champions down there like Billy but there’s world champions in the making that aren’t quite known on that level yet and they all act the same and they all have a laugh together.”
Even closer to home, Cartwright has another world champion to take inspiration from with the Yorkshireman naturally inspired by the success of the city’s own IBF featherweight champion of the world Warrington whom Cartwright says there are strong similarities with. The new English middleweight champion was present at Warrington’s press conference on Wednesday ahead of December’s world title fight against Carl Frampton and Cartwright ultimately dreams of following in those footsteps.
“He’s brilliant,” said Cartwright of Warrington. “It’s amazing. He is from the same estate as me growing up – I was brought up on Halton Moor and he was brought up round that side of Leeds as well. It just shows you that it can be done with hard work.
“When I first set out to go pro, I wanted the British title and I told myself that if I win that British title it’s made my career worth it. But who knows, and when I win that British I will probably think to myself ‘do you know what, it’s not enough, I want the European or whatever.’ I want to reach the top level, I want to be at the world level. But the British is what I aimed for when I set out as a pro so I am not going to be happy until I have won that.”