Boxing: Ambitious Leeds middleweight Cartwright wants to be world’s best

IBF Youth World Middleweight champion Reece Cartwright, right.
IBF Youth World Middleweight champion Reece Cartwright, right.
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Halton Moor-raised boxer Reece Cartwright defends his IBF Youth middleweight title in Leeds later this month and hopes it will be another step to the bright lights of Las Vegas and world titles. Lee Sobot reports.

LEEDS’ IBF Youth middleweight champion Reece Cartwright has good reason to describe the first two and a half years of his pro’ boxing career as perfect.

Fourteen victories from fourteen bouts is proof in the pudding. New Dock Hall in Leeds will host the 15th fight of the 22-year-old’s career, in defence of his newly acquired belt against Mikalai Kuzmitski of Belarus. But long term it is the bright lights of Las Vegas that Cartwright has designs on, with the Leeds puncher following the success story of Josh Warrington closely, but admitting: “I’m doing my own thing and my aim is to be on top of the world.”

Multiple featherweight champion Warrington has taken the Leeds boxing scene to new heights since turning pro’, but Cartwright has been quietly bubbling beneath the surface to some effect. The former roofer has competed on the undercard of Warrington’s fights already and bagged the vacant IBF Youth middleweight title by defeating Henri Kekalainen at New Dock Hall in June.

Cartwright will now return there on Friday, November 18 to defend his belt against another opponent who is unbeaten.

Victory for Cartwright would take his tally to 15 victories from 15 bouts – and the Rick Manners Boxing Gym ace insists his recent progress is only just the beginning. Cartwright now hopes both he and Warrington can put Leeds’ name in lights and said of his pro’ career so far: “It’s gone perfectly.

“We started off how we wanted to and I’ve developed as a fighter. We’ve pushed things the right way and when I won my belt there was no other feeling like it in the world. I can imagine it feeling just as good when I defend it and I keep it in Leeds on the 18th.

“Now we are just stepping things up and working our way to the big time. My aim is to be on top of the world and I just need Leeds to get behind me and help me on my journey to be the king.

“I want to take Leeds to big places – I want to take them to Vegas – I want to take them to travel the world.

“I want Leeds to be on TV when I win world titles.”

Cartwright added: “I’ve fought on a few of Josh’s undercards at Leeds Arena and it’s incredible.

“The crowd is just nuts, they all get behind me and hopefully the city can get behind me as well now and move forwards.

“But I’m just doing my own thing what my team think I should do and that’s enough for me.

“I don’t really follow the routes of other fighters, I am just doing my own thing and seeing where I go with it.

“I’m not a massive football fan like Josh but I go to some Leeds games and I like the Rhinos. I’m definitely a Leeds lad.”

Halton Moor is responsible for Cartwright’s upbringing with the Yorkshireman first taking up boxing as an eight-year-old after telling his dad he wanted to be a wrestler.

Instead, the youngster was taken to the Rick Manners Boxing Gym.

“I used to watch wrestling and I just said to my dad ‘look, I want to do this’ and he took me to the boxing gym,” said Cartwright, who is now a dad himself to two-year-old Ralphy.

“It turned out I was pretty good, in fact I was very good, and I was sparring men when I was just a boy.

“I was doing well then so I thought, yeah, why not be a professional?”

Cartwright made his pro’ debut in March 2014 – but still remembers his roots.

Cartwright recalled: “I was working on the roofs before and I was born and bred on a rough estate – Halton Moor.

“I was brought up there and it’s difficult to choose the right route for most kids who live on there.

“Most I grew up with have taken the wrong route – some through their own fault and some not.

“But luckily I had my sponsors, Bauer Group, who pulled me away from that. Now I am on the right path.”

That path recently led to Cartwright sparring with Kell Brook in readiness for the Sheffield fighter’s attempt to dethrone undefeated middleweight king Gennady Golovkin.

“That was amazing,” beamed Cartwright.

“And it was great to hear what he had to say about me – that I’m a warrior, that I’m ambitious, I’m strong, I’m good, all this, just good words from Kell Brook, about me this Halton Moor kid – it just gave me so much confidence and so much drive to do more.”

As a fellow middleweight, Cartwright must now be considered potential opposition for Brook and even Golovkin – though dreams of fighting the latter can wait for another day.

“Triple G is the man isn’t he?” laughed Cartwright. “He’s the middleweight king.

“But he hasn’t met me yet, has he?”