Jack Bateson: The Leeds Based Boxer Aiming To Follow In The Footsteps Of Josh Warrington

Jack Bateson: The Leeds Based Boxer Aiming To Follow In The Footsteps Of Josh Warrington

By Cameron Temple

On a glorious summer evening in 2018, and amidst an electric atmosphere at Elland road, the home of Leeds United football club, the ‘Leeds Warrior,’ Josh Warrington, made history by becoming the first man from Leeds to win a world title, when he beat Lee Selby by split decision.

Earlier that day, on the same event, the lesser known, but no less promising, Jack Bateson beat Jose Hernandez to improve his professional record to 6-0.

Being from Leeds, Jack remembers this particular victory extremely fondly, as he told the Boxing Index:

“It was unbelievable, it was a bit surreal to know that I was getting warmed up in the Leeds United changing rooms, with Leeds being my team. It was just perfect. I was on at five-thirty, which was actually a good thing, because I was able to enjoy the whole night and see it all unfold. I’ve never been to a show like that, with an atmosphere like that. it was special.”

“I’m lucky to be from Leeds,” Jack continued, “because I get a great following. Fighting all over the world in small halls is hard because there’s no one there cheering you on. Back home, hundreds come out to support me and I’ve got my dad and my uncle in my corner. A lot of the time I’m even boxing on my dad’s shows when I’m not fighting on a big Josh Warrington undercard. I’m loving it and I’m lucky to have the support that I have from Leeds, it’s always appreciated.”

The chance to box on the undercard of Josh Warrington, a fighter who Jack admires, is clearly not lost on him, as he revealed:

“I’ve known Josh since he started boxing, when he was just a young kid, so I’ve seen how much effort and work he’s put in over the years. A lot of people fall off, but Josh was one of those lads who kept going. He wasn’t the most naturally talented, and he’s not afraid to admit that, but he kept at it. He’s surpassed a lot of other people, and now look at him, he’s on top of the world, literally! So, he’s a real motivation and inspiration for me.”

Jack first got into boxing at the age of nine, following encouragement from his father:

“My dad and my uncle were amateur coaches,” Jack said, “and growing up my older brother was always boxing, but he packed it in when he was 11 or 12. I was at home and my dad kept saying, ‘do you want to come to the boxing gym, do you want to try it out.’ So, eventually I went down to the gym and gave it a go, almost just to shut him up!”

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Since first taking Jack to a boxing gym, his dad has remained an important figure in his life and his career:

“Without my dad I don’t know what I’d do,” Jack admitted, “he does a lot for me and he is my inspiration. When I think about boxing, I love the game and I want to do well, but he’s one of the main reasons I want to do well and without him I wouldn’t be where I am today. He looks after me.”

His dad is not the only family member in his team, Jack is also trained by his Uncle Martin, “my uncle is a really good coach,” Jack said, “and I’m not just saying that because he’s my uncle. He’s the best person I’ve ever worked with as a coach and it’s great to have him there in my corner. I think the reason he’s more in charge than my dad is because when times get hard it’s easier to have an argument with your dad, but there’s that little bit more respect there with my uncle. It just bridges the gap between father and son.”

Overall, Jack clearly values the benefits of keeping his family close to him, as he said:

“They’ve got my best interests at heart. There’s a lot of people that are in boxing for the wrong reasons, but when you’re around your own family, you couldn’t find anyone more trustworthy. So, I’m really lucky to have my dad and my uncle there.”

Jack began his amateur career, enjoying instant success, until he lost in his 12th bout, which really pushed him to take boxing seriously:

“I got beat in my 12th contest, which was my first fight for England when I was 12 years old. I was beaten by Joe Fitzpatrick from Ireland, who’s still boxing now actually and I’d never been so upset. Ever since then I’ve just completely caught the bug. Now, 120 amateur fights later, and 11 fights in the pros, it all seems to have flashed by really.”

Mixed in among those 120 amateur fights, jack found himself in the final of the ABA tournament three times, winning two, “The ABA’s are quite a prestigious tournament in England,” Jack explained, “and winning both times was special. I got to my third final, where Charlie Edwards beat me, but they were important moments for me and ones that I’ll probably remember forever.”

Also, while in the amateurs, Jack found himself on the GB squad, saying:

“Getting on the GB squad was a big achievement for me. without my experience on the squad, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, never mind the fighter. It taught me a lot, especially discipline, being away from home, and it was strict. The way I train now as a pro is not really any different to how they train on the GB squad, it’s tough. I don’t think people realise how difficult it is and how hard you get pushed until you’re actually involved in it. I lived with some elite fighters over the years and you become who you surround yourself with and you learn to pick up good habits. I met some great people and those five years on the squad will be ones I’ll always remember.”

However, a setback in missing out on selection for the Olympics in 2016 almost caused Jack to walk away from the sport, as he revealed:

“It’s all you dream of as a kid. I remember I always talked about the London 2012 Olympics. I just missed out on them, but people were saying I would definitely be picked for 2016. I feel like I never really got my shot if I’m honest. I was supposed to box Muhammad Ali in the box-offs, but he pulled out, so I fought a Romanian kid instead. I beat him and I thought that would put me in good stead to be selected for the qualifiers. Then I didn’t get selected and I was told the next ones will come and I’d probably be selected if Muhammad Ali didn’t qualify. The next one came and I just felt like the writing was on the wall, I could sort of see that I wasn’t going to get selected with the way I was being treated. Then Muhammad Ali tested positive for steroids after the Olympics, which added salt to the wound. So, I had a bit of a break because I fell out of love with the game a bit.”

Nonetheless, Jack quickly bounced back, returning to the GB squad and winning a few amateur fights before turning over to the professional ranks shortly after in 2017.

Despite never being selected for the Olympics, Jack holds no grudges over those still involved in the GB squad, even sending his well-wishes to those hopeful of a medal in 2021, saying:

“They’ve got such a strong team now and it’s such a shame about it getting pushed back to 2021. I guess it gives them more time to prepare and I don’t think they would’ve been keen on the whole training situation leading up to it anyway. I’m tipping Galal Yafai and Peter McGrail for golds. They’re two great lads and they’ve got a lot of experience and skill as well, which should take them a long way. There’s also Frazier Clarke and Pat McCormack. I think those four are the real standouts for me, just with how highly ranked they are in amateur boxing at the moment, I think it should be there time. I think it’s going to be a really good run for all the lads, and the girls too, we’ve got some really good girls in the team at the moment.”

Since turning professional Jack has made the transition seamlessly, moving at a fast pace with 11 fights in two years:

“I haven’t found the transition too different, other than sparring more rounds. I think maybe because I had three World series of boxing fights in the amateurs, which are five rounds like pro fights, so they put me in good stead. Since I left the GB squad, I feel like I’ve got back to my old style, I’m switching a lot more and sitting down on my shots more. I’d say my best attribute is the fact that I can switch. I’m as natural an orthodox as I am southpaw. A lot of boxers have only got one side to their game, but I’ve got two, so it does give me an advantage. When things do get back up and running, I’m ready to start fighting for titles.”

Jack was in line for an English title shot on the undercard of Josh Warrington’s latest title defence, but he was forced to pull out due to a hand injury:

“It would’ve been my first televised title fight against a good opponent. It would’ve been a great fight and one that I was confident I could win and look good in. So, it is a shame, because it was only about 10 days before when I had to pull out, and the camp was pretty much done.”

This disappointment was quickly followed up by another, as Jack’s fight, scheduled for April 3rd, also had to be cancelled, this time due to coronavirus:

“That was really frustrating again, but because of what was going on I could see it coming. It was hard to take, but it’s something everyone’s dealing with. Some people have had to pull out of huge title fights, so my time will come and it gives my hand a bit more time to heal, and I have a bit more time to prepare I guess.”

Back to back cancellations could be enough to throw some fighters off their groove, but Jack remains resolute in his glass-half-full mindset, saying:

“I’ve done two good camps and they haven’t been a waste of time because I’ve learnt a lot from them and hopefully that title fight comes again. No work is wasted work.”

Jack, unlike many boxers, is in the fortunate situation of being able to rely on income from his sponsors while he is unable to fight, to whom he is extremely grateful, saying:

“I’ve got a few sponsors who I’m very lucky to have. Without them I would literally be stuffed. It’s so important to have sponsors when you box full time, otherwise you’d have to go out and work and a lot of people aren’t able to work at the moment.”

Jack, like many young pros, has ambitious plans for his career:

“My ultimate goal is a world title, and I do think it is possible. I think it’s important how you’re guided in your career, and I have no excuse not to get to that level. All I’m really going to need in the long run is a promoter, and the skill to achieve it. I’ve got the dedication, I believe I’ve got the skill, so it’s about getting it all right and getting the fights.”

In terms of his style, and in line with his aspirations in the sport, Jack compares himself to a man who has already reached the pinnacle of boxing, Naoya Inoue, saying:

“I was watching an Inoue fight the other day and he’s a serious fighter. I was thinking, ‘I want to box a lot more like him.’ There are certain things he does which I know I can do myself. So, if I had to compare myself to anyone whose active now, it’s probably him, after watching his fight with Donaire.”

However, Unlike Naoya ‘the Monster’ Inoue, Jack is yet to find himself an alias of his own:

“Growing up I had babyface,” Jack disclosed, “which I could probably still have now because I get IDed for ibuprofen in shops, let alone the alcohol, and I’m 25 years old now! I’ve never really had a nickname, I’ve thought of a couple, but maybe it’s something that will come naturally, or if someone comes up with a good one, I’ll go with it.”

With Jack responding to my question about what he likes to do outside of boxing by simply saying, “eating,” it became clear that his life very much revolves around the sport:

“I don’t know what I’d do without boxing.” Jack Admitted, “At the moment, in this lockdown, I think I’d go nuts if it was like this all the time, and I had no fight dates to look forward to. I just love boxing and I want to make my dad proud. Obviously, we all have to earn a living and I’d be lying if I said money wasn’t a part of it, but I’ve always dreamt of winning a world title and I’d love to pack in one day and be able to say I did it. It’s hard to take your mind away from boxing and even when I’m away or trying to enjoy myself, I’m constantly thinking about boxing.”

Hopefully, for the sake of Jack’s sanity, he’s able to get back into the ring as soon as possible, a hope that Jack shares, saying:

“I would love to be fighting again in the summer, maybe June or July. Hopefully this virus will be gone by then. Maybe I’ll have a little tester to get me back into things, because it’s been a while since I boxed, but I want to be back in line for titles. I said this last year and there’s no pressure on it, but I would love to end the year with a title. Hopefully it can all happen this year, all being well with no injuries and no more viruses.”

Jack finished with what seemed to be a statement typical of his optimistic attitude to life, and perhaps something we all need to hear:

“It can still be a great year.”

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