Meet JJ Metcalf, the British boxer Frank Warren says has a 'massive' future ahead of him

James Metcalf 1

JJ Metcalf returns to action on the undercard of Dillian Whyte’s heavyweight rematch against Alexander Povetkin.

The unbeaten Liverpudlian is somebody every boxing fan should get to know about and faces Ted Cheeseman on Saturday in his toughest test to date.

Metcalf signed with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren in 2017 and claimed the first big scalp of his career after stopping Jason Welborn to capture the Commonwealth belt, a feat which saw him follow in the footsteps of Jamie Moore, Liam Smith and Liam Williams. 

The 32-year-old, 21-0 (13 KO's), has been matched up against Cheeseman in a super-welterweight clash, which will take place on Saturday evening on the undercard of Whyte vs Povetkin 2. 

Warren said "there are massive fights" for him at domestic level before his cancelled bout with Jack Flatley and Metcalf himself has made his intentions perfectly clear ahead of his highly-anticipated showdown with Cheeseman this weekend. 

Metcalf exclusively told GIVEMESPORT: "My goal has always been to become a world champion, you know, that's never going to change until I get my hands on the belt.

"I've won British Masters, WBC International titles, Commonwealth titles, now I'll win the British title. If you look at the likes of Billy Joe Saunders and Tyson Fury, they've both done the same thing.

"It would mean a lot to win the British title, I've put in all the hard work, it would make all of that worthwhile. 

"I feel like I'm ready as soon as the time comes. Every time I box an opponent, you see a better version of myself, and if that world title becomes available, I'll take it with both hands.

"Obviously, my main goal is to win a world title, but this is a big step in my career."

However, ever the consummate professional, the mild-mannered Metcalf declined to call out any future opponents, and instead insisted he is fully focused on his upcoming fight later this week. 

"I think it's [Jermell] Charlo who's got most of them at the moment, so he's the man to beat, and if I was going to fight any of the world champions, I'd want to beat the main man at the top. 

"But I'm not calling anyone out yet, I've got to get this fight with Cheeseman out of the way first, then we'll start to take a look further up the rankings.

"I believe I could make it a war straight away if I wanted to but I could also make it a chess match. He's a good fighter, it's going to be an exciting fight." 

Metcalf, who made his professional debut back in 2011, is the son of Liverpool fight legend Shea Neary. His dad has helped him in his career ever since he first started boxing as a young boy.

Neary, known as the 'Shamrock Express', is the former WBU light-welterweight champion, whose fight with Micky Ward was recreated in the Hollywood film 'The Fighter' starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.

Now, Metcalf fights under the name 'Kid Shamrock' as a homage to his fighting roots and talked about his close bond with his dad. 

He said: "My dad is my best friend, he always has been, always will be. I'm just lucky he's been through what I'm going through now, he's always given me advice, and whenever I need anything I know I can go to him.

"I don't think anyone realised how good Micky Ward was when my dad boxed him. He showed it afterwards when he beat Arturo Gatti. He's a proper warrior, the pair of them were, and it was an unbelievable fight.

"I never used to tell anyone who my dad was, it's just the way I was brought up. I don't think I'm anything different to anyone else, I've never compared my career to his." 

His biggest win to date was an eighth round stoppage of Welborn on the undercard of Josh Warrington vs Kid Galahad back in 2019.

Since his emphatic win nearly two years ago, the veteran has added another knockout to his name, stopping stand-in opponent Jan Balog in the first round.  

But due to the coronavirus pandemic, cancellations and a couple of setbacks, his career has been constantly delayed, until he agreed to fight Cheeseman in front of a small crowd in an event otherwise billed as the 'Rumble on the Rock.' 

The winner will become the British champion which could catapult themselves into world title contention.  

Such a lengthy layoff could give some cause for concern. Metcalf however is no stranger to fighting through adversity, which he believes will serve him well on Saturday night. 

"I've probably had harder fights than the Welborn fight but going into it, I hadn't used my right hand for a long time, as it was in a bad way, so I knew I was going into the biggest fight of my life with basically one hand. Thankfully I came away with the win. 

"Even as a kid, I was born with a missing finger, my feet weren't right, I was told I wasn't going to be able to walk properly.

"Just little experiences throughout my life, I've been through a lot of challenging times, I've just had to keep going and never let anyone tell me I can't do something."

The devout Evertonian is also a big fan of his boyhood club and reserved special praise for new recruit James Rodriguez.

"Buzzing, he's unbelievable isn't he? Doesn't even run that much but he's completely changed the team. I just hope we can keep hold of him and keep improving.

"I boxed at Goodison Park, that was my dream venue, but I was a bit unfortunate - I got on straight after Tony Bellew and the cameras had stopped! I never got to get the video, so it's sort of like it never happened, a lot of people had gone home, and I'd definitely like to do that again.

"I remember being brought onto the pitch by my dad with his belt when I was younger. I met them all, I met Duncan Ferguson, all the legends - it was brilliant. I'd love to get back on the pitch with my own belt, it would be unbelievable."

This exclusive interview with James 'JJ' Metcalf was in collaboration with MotionSport, check them out now on Instagram and Twitter!  

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