Jack Cartwright talks CW Unplugged, title win; Cage Warriors Manchester bid

In an age where one-night championship tournaments in top-flight combat sports are becoming more of a rarity, Cage Warriors return to the BT Sports studio for the Unplugged sequel was highly-welcomed. This time, the vacant Cage Warriors’ vacant bantamweight title was up for grabs for four 135-pound prospects: Jack Cartwright, Josh Reed, Scott Malone & Marko Kovacevic.

Entering as a relatively unfamiliar face to the bantamweight rankings was Bolton’s Jack Cartwright. An opportunity many didn’t expect to come his way, being only 5-0 as a professional. Nonetheless, it was an opportunity that Jack saw as a clear no-brainer.

“I had a pretty irritating start to my professional career,” Cartwright confessed. “Constant pull-outs and a couple of injuries myself. In my first five professional fights only one stayed as my original opponent, so this tournament was some good news. 

“The opportunity came about when Matt rang me, saying he had two options for me: a fight on the 28th September or a tournament for the 6th September. Needless to say, I bit his hand off for the opportunity to fight for the Cage Warriors title.”

As his slot in the four-man tournament was accepted, Jack was immediately looked at as the dark horse of the show due to both possible opponents awaiting him having more experience. If anything, for the SBG representative, this only provided further motivation to shock the world.

“One hundred percent I felt overlooked and disrespected to be honest,” the undefeated battler expressed. “I think a lot of people who knew me personally know what I’m capable of, but a lot of people thought I was going to get smashed by Scott. I was looking forward to proving myself and all my teammates right by putting a big performance on.” 

In his first bout, Jack came up against the 6-1 Scott Malone – a man, coincidentally, he was due to meet almost two years ago until a pull-out occurred. Early into the opening stanza, Jack delivered a flush right hand, stunning his man, only to follow up and eliminate one of the tournament favourites. He was now through to the final and, if he ever was prior, the bantamweight was no man to take lightly.

“Immediately after the KO I was hyped up,” Jack confessed. “However, everyone in my corner calmed me down. Once I was backstage I just reset, as if it was my first fight of the night coming up. It didn’t mean anything extra that he was the ‘favourite.’ I put all the pressure on myself every fight, whether it’s a 0-0 guy or fighting for a world title. If anything, it felt sweet to get a somewhat tough draw to prove to everyone I belonged. That’s how I’ve always done it.”

In comparison to his next foe, Marko Kovacevic, Jack was much the fresh combatant as Kovacevic had gone the distance with the ever wild Welshman Josh Reed. 

With some time to go and just about having a sweat going, Jack further credits his team in their wisdom in preparation for each stage of the night. By the time the rat-tailed combatant stepped back in the Cage Warriors battleground, adrenaline had calmed, his mind had refocused and his body was ready to take on 12-3 Marko Kovacevic.

“I felt fresh,” described Cartwright. “I just kept loose in the back and I had plenty of practice in sparring building up to the fight. I kept warm between rounds, so I was more than prepared. I knew I was very capable of stopping Marko if I hit him clean, so I was just preparing myself to be patient; make the correct decisions and remember that he wouldn’t be able to take the punches when they started to land and that’s what’s what came.”

In what was true underdog fashion and a tale which is all very suited to combat sports, Jack had gone from the dark horse to the world champion in a culmination two rounds, totalling a ring time of just over four minutes. 

A journey as an undefeated amateur to a touted young professional to a world champion was, to Jack, what felt was a long time coming – and now that he has finally captured a deserved championship, Cartwright feels the bantamweight division is on notice.

“Like I said on the night, I’ve been training since I was five-years-old and competing since I was nine-years-old,” Jack divulged. “I’ve never held a massive title and always felt like I’ve missed out on opportunities for one reason or another, so I was never going to let this pass me by. 

“There’s plenty of good bantamweights out there and they still don’t know half of my game. All I’ve shown is what’s needed to win. I’m more than capable of taking these guys down and submitting or controlling them, but that’s not who I am at heart. I’ll always choose to be in exciting fights.” 

After an ultra-active 2019, Jack is open to more opportunities that may be available before the end of the year, but isn’t too fussed to wait to kickstart 2020 – with his main goal of bringing Cage Warriors back up north to his native Manchester – an area the rebirthed Cage Warriors have not yet returned to. Now with a Mancunian champion on their roster, Cartwright feels its only a matter of time until happens.

“I’m not too fussed if I have one or not before the end off the year,” Jack explained. “I’ve had four already this year and I’m not sure who they’ve got lined up for me to fight right now. If Cage Warriors want me to go again, though, I’ll be more than ready.

“I want Cage Warriors: Manchester. It’s got to be – how could it not be? We’ve too many top gyms, so many quality fighters; the best fight fans and now you’ve got an exciting champion who hunts for knockouts to headline. There’s nothing I’d love more.”