The Vauxhall Motors ABC in Ellesmere Port has proven a fertile breeding ground for prizefighters over the years.
Bantamweight buzzsaw Paul ‘Livewire’ Lloyd rose to British, Commonwealth and European honours as a pro during the late 1990s whilst, today, former VM graduates Paul Butler and Matty Fagan are kicking up a storm.
So could flame-haired welterweight Mason Cartwright be the latest from the academy to achieve stardom between the ropes?
The 21 year old former English schoolboy finalist possesses fire in his fists and, after a successful amateur career, he is set to be unleashed into the paid code on promoter Frank Warren’s huge show at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on October 25th.
Super-Flyweight ace Paul Butler headlines the ‘Magnificent Seven’ card – which also features Liam Smith against Zoltan Sera for the Vacant WBA Continental Lightweight Championship; Kevin Satchell’s challenge for the European flyweight crown; the hugely anticipated domestic showdown between Derry Mathews and Adam Dingsdale; the big North-West clash between Tom Stalker and Jack Catterall for the Vacant WBO European Light-Welterweight crown, plus Chris Eubank Jnr.
Remaining tickets are available from the Liverpool Echo Arena Box Office on 0844 8000 400 or www.echoarena.com
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Recently boxing writer Glynn Evans interviewed the Anthony Farnell trained starlet to gather some background information.
Name: Mason Cartwright
Family background: I live with my mum in Ellesmere Port and I’ve one younger brother called Casey who’s only six but has already started going the gym. No children of my own yet.
Trade: I was an engineer, a repair fitter, but stopped to train full-time every day as a boxer.
Nickname: ‘Nutty’! It’s short for ‘Gingernut’. ‘Macca’ (Peter Phelan), my old amateur trainer gave it to me when I was six and it’s stuck ever since.
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? An uncle used to go the boxing gym, just for fitness. I was a bit of a wild child, full of beans, so my mum decided to take me to the gym to instil a bit of discipline. Instantly, I enjoyed everything about it.
What do you recall of your amateur career? I couldn’t have my first amateur bout until I was 11. I went straight in the schoolboy championships and lost!
I only ever boxed for the Vauxhall Motors ABC, in Ellesmere Port. I was coached from six until 21 by Peter Phelan and grew up alongside little Paul Butler (ex IBF bantam champion), Nick McDonald (three time senior English ABA champion) and Matty Fagan.
I had about 57 amateur bouts and I think I lost 11. I got to the national schoolboys final when I was about 12 but lost to a Liverpool lad called Connor O’Brien from the Gemini club. I also got to a CYP national semi but was always the ‘nearly kid’, losing at the quarters or semis.
I beat loads of good lads who are pros now like Callum Cook, who’s with the Hattons, Marcus Morrison, who’s with Joe Gallagher and Kofi Yates who’s now my stable mate at ‘Arnie (Anthony Farnell)’s gym. I also lost against a lad called Callum Winton, who represented England at the World Juniors and is now pro with Bob Shannon.
However, whilst I was tough and could punch, I never really had an amateur style – I like to hurt people (!) – so never got picked for the GB Development Squads and never boxed international. Kids I beat like Adam Davies – a tall southpaw with a good international style – got picked ahead of me. I did box for the north-west area squads though and also had a couple of great trips to Germany and Spain with my club, boxing at huge arenas.
Unfortunately, I picked up a bad shoulder injury the night I beat Kofi. That put me out for almost two years and consequently I had a very short senior career. I only entered the senior ABAs once, losing at Area level. I entered at 64 kilos which was a big mistake as I’m nearly six foot tall. At the time, my body fat was less than 4% and I felt really ill. That was the only loss in seven bouts, after I came back from my (shoulder) operation.
Still, no regrets. I never thought of giving up or became disheartened if I had a setback. I just went back to the gym and worked harder.
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? Since Paul Butler started training over at ‘Arnie’s gym, I’d tag along with him. I’d be holding my own in open spars with the likes of Dean Byrne and Matty Hall, top quality pros. I inquired if ‘Arnie’ would consider training me if I decided to go pro and he said he’d love to. He and Paul Butler sorted things out with the Warrens and, after I lost in the senior ABAs, it all snowballed from there.
Tell us about your back up team: I’m managed by (Queensberry matchmaker) Jason McClory, promoted by Frank Warren and trained by Anthony Farnell at his gym in Failsworth, Manchester.
There’s plenty of quality pros there to learn from such as Butler, Matty Hall, Matty Fagan, Macauley McGowan…..Guys like Dean Byrne and John Murray also pop in.
‘Arnie’ has such a good boxing brain and is a mastermind on the pads, always developing new combinations. But he’s also one of the lads and makes training a laugh….until he sees you slacking! He doesn’t rollock ya, he just ignores you. We’re so keen for his time that we go out of our way to work hard and impress him.
I sort my nutrition out myself. I’m pretty clued up on that side and I also attend a few strength and conditioning or ply metric classes every week at Total Fitness in Chester.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? I train at Arnie’s gym every morning, Monday to Friday. Regarding running, I mostly do sprints for fitness unless I need to drop weight. I also do strength and conditioning classes two evenings a week. I’ll do one big run on either Saturday or Sunday, then rest the other day.
At ‘Arnie’s’, I train with Paul Butler and Matty Fagan as we all travel up together from Ellesmere Port. We’ll warm up with some skipping and shadow boxing, then split into three stations. One will run up and down the stairs leading to the gym, one will do the bar-bag, the other will do pads with Arnie inside the ring. After four or five rounds at each station, we’ll rotate.
All told we usually do 12-18 rounds. After that, we’ll do a stomach workout together, then stretch off. We all want to achieve big things in the boxing so we give it our all, every day.
On sparring days, I usually work with Kofi Yates and Matty Hall. That’s my favourite part of training as it most resembles the actual fight. I really enjoy the adrenalin
, even getting hit. It’s the feisty redhead in me! Worst part is the bar-bag. It’s very good for your fitness but not fun at all.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m an action man. I’m probably a stronger boxer than I am a fighter but I’ll not run from a good tear-up. Now, I need to box their ears off and if the big shot comes, it comes.
I’ve got a good, hard, straight jab and pretty good head movement. I stopped a few in the amateurs. They tended to wince from every shot I landed, a bit like my idol Canelo Alvarez.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? Lots. I need to relax more and vary the power. Touch, touch, then bang a big one in rather than putting full steam into every shot I throw. I need to learn when to apply pressure and when to sit back. Basically, I need to develop my general ring craft.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? As an amateur, I was usually far stronger than my opponent. In the pros, they’re all really strong so you have to box the ears off them first to create openings before going in and hurting them. These journeymen are all used to absorbing punishment. Hard, hard men.
Who is the best opponent that you’ve shared a ring with? Probably Callum Winton from Hartlepool who beat me in the junior ABAs. He was sharp and very mature for his age. He was the only one who, at the time, I felt I’d not have been able to have beaten that day, even if I was at my best.
As a younger lad, I did a lot of sparring with little Paul (Butler) but, weight wise, we grew apart. He could always really punch for his size and had class combinations.
All time favourite fighter: Canelo Alvarez. Another fiery red head! He’s not great yet -still fresh and coming through – but I think he will be.
All time favourite fight: Andre Berto against Victor Ortiz for the WBC welterweight title. Real ‘up and down’ edge of the seat stuff.
What is your routine on fight day? I’m an early bird, every day. After waking, I’ll chill out and listen to music. If my weight’s good and I’m okay to have breakfast, I’ll have a little bowl of porridge with some nuts, or yoghurt and fruit.
I wake up ‘psyched’! Throughout the day, I’ll be constantly thinking about the fight and the opponent but I’m never really nervous. It’s more excitement. I’m always confident in myself.
I might visit family or mates. At the venue, I like to step inside the ring to get a feel of the canvas and ropes – they do differ – before heading to the changing rooms. I stay pretty relaxed. Then it’s time to trade some leather! After my fights, I’ve usually won so, though I never drink, I’ll go for a night out with the lads and down a couple of Red Bulls.
Entrance music: ‘You’ve Got the Love’ by Candi Staton.
How do you relax? I enjoy a game of golf. I play off a nine handicap. Butler plays off six. I used to play football also. Me and little Paul played up front together until I snapped my ankle about a year and a half ago. I’ve not played since.
Football team: Liverpool. I try to go to games a few times a season with me uncle.
Read: Not much, other than the Boxing News.
Music: House and rap. I’m into Swedish House Mafia.
Films/TV: Ideally, I like action or scary films but, having a little six year old brother, I also love all the animation films. My favourite films are When We Were Kings, When We Were Soldiers, and all the Rocky films. On TV, I mainly watch documentaries.
Aspiration in life: To give 110% at everything I do and have no regrets. Whatever I attempt, I like to leave it all on the line.
Motto: Born Ready! Whenever my coach says: ‘Are you ready?’ I reply: ‘I was born ‘Ready!’