Cacace has chance to prove he isn’t the ‘greatest that never was’

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Remember Ritchie Partridge? No? Not many do.

However, those in the football know will remember the name and what might have been.

The flying winger was once known as ‘Ireland’s next star’ and those within the game predicted a future brighter than the Las Vegas lights for the former Liverpool youth.

Partridge was forever on the edge of the Liverpool first team around the turn of the millennium without ever making a Premier League appearance. Rather than go on to become a Premiership millionaire or an Ireland legend he is now most famed for being Micheal Owen’s brother in law.

All the talent was there, but he just never got that break through, that career changing opportunity and as result never even flirted with fulfilling the massive potential he had.

During the Spring of this year it looked like Belfast fighter Anthony Cacace was destined to become Irish boxing’s ill-fated Partridge equivalent – A fighter with all the talent in the World, who just wasn’t going to get the chance to show the World what he was about.

A boxer, who wouldn’t be afforded that one big career changing moment.

A big-punching slick stylist who the spotlight would avoid in the same fashion it does stage clowns in the simplest and oldest of jokes.

Cacace had a number of false dawns early on. He was a vaunted amateur wining seven All-Ireland titles at various age groups as well as a couple of Ulster Senior titles.

He only ever entered the Seniors once were he lost to 2008 European Bronze medalist Ross Hickey at 17 years of age. Three four Nation junior gold’s decorated the then teen’s mantle piece and he could have made it four only for a countback defeat to current WBO middleweight World champion Billy Joe Saunders.

There was genuine excitement surrounding this rangy power puncher who made it look so easy. However, future World champion talk was always cooled with tales of a fighter who celebrated wins with a cigarette and a can of the cheapest beer on the market. He was no Eammon Magee, but his dedication was questioned.

Indeed, ‘The Apache’ fell away from the game between the ages of 19-21 and openly admits he wasted good years and denied himself the chance to try and become an Irish champion at Senior level and even the opportunity to wear an singlet in the Olympics.

In 2012 Cacace’s name was back on hardcore fight fans’s lips. He had signed up with Chris Graham and – despite the fact he had the ever-popular former European Champion ‘Big Bang’ Willie Casey as a stablemate – he quickly became the the jewel of Emerald Promotions crown.

Casey, due to his infectious personality as well as his Prizefighter and Continental title-winning past, grabbed any mainstream media glare that was on offer, but there was massive hardcore fan interest as to how Cacace was shaping up during that period.

Was the mercurial talent going to mesmerize? He didn’t disappoint and in just his fifth fight he was buckling the Irish super featherweight title around his waist after stopping the teak tough Mickey Coveney with a sensational upper cut in round one of their scheduled 10 round bout.

Things looked bright again. The spotlight was inching ever closer, but was quickly jerked away as Emerald Promotions ran into trouble and stopped running shows.

A stint with Tom Moran, who now looks after John Joe Nevin, in Philadelphia followed, but again that proved to be a false dawn.

A year out of the ring followed, but then Cyclone Promotions came onboard and looked set to provide the wind Cacace needed in his sails to get him into title winning waters.

A victory on the undercard of Carl Frampton’s IBF world title win against Kiko Martinez was followed by three wins away from home. At that stage with the promotional weight of Barry McGuigan and the coaching skills of Shane McGuigan behind him the Belfast super feather looked destined to succeed.

A BBBofC Celtic title win over Ronnie Clarke on what appeared to be an aptly-named ‘Lift Off’ show seemed to provide just that for Cacace.

However, there was no raucous blast off after the 5,4,3,2,1 count down. The now 27 year old was expected to get a slot on the Frampton versus Quigg undercard and be afforded a chance to show the Sky watching masses and thus the causal what he could do, but things went quiet again.

It seemed as if the Cacace curse had struck again. Just when he was primed to kick on he was kicked were it hurts. He parted ways with the successful promotional company and at that stage their was talk he would never fight again.

Those who knew of his talents were ready to add him to the underachiever list. The ‘greatest never seen’ parables would have a Cacace chapter.

The woe story tellers will have to hold off, however, as the former Irish Champion and reigning BBBofC Celtic Nations title holder has been given another chance.

The fighter whose story read like a Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events novel finally found some luck.

The British Board ordered The Apache to face George Jupp in a British title final eliminator by the end of November.

The fighter instantly went from being in limbo to having a clear path in front of him. Without having any promotional ties the fighter for the first time could had a clear path to a major title no one but himself could put a road block in front of.

The former amateur underage stand out then signed with Pat Magee, who also looks after British title hopeful Tommy McCarthy and big punching Phil Sutcliffe Jr and expertly guided the career of former World Champion Brian Magee.

Brian started to train the former Oliver Plunkett’s and Holy Trinity amateur while Pat got about managing.
A warm-up ring rust-ridding fight was arranged before another slice of fortune fell the way of the Belfast man.

Jupp had to pull out of the eliminator as it seems Frank Warren made an error come purse bids time and now the path is even clearer for Cacace to fight the winner of the Martin J Ward versus Andy Townend title fight within 90 days of their September 10th clash.

The fact that British title fight plays out on the undercard of Golovkin versus Brook only adds to the glamour and profile of the Belfast man’s eventual tilt – not to mention the possibility it could play out on a Matchroom broadcast Sky card.

It’s a massive turn around for talent that has threatened to be wasted. For the first time in his career he can see the light glittering off a major belt at the end of the tunnel. He gets his chance regardless of who his promoter or how much money they have. No circumstances outside of his control can prevent him from achieving.

Now it’s up to the fighter himself to grab the opportunity with both gloves use the talent he has to turn the myth’s surrounding his capabilities into tails of legendary feats.

irishboxing

Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years