They were long-time training partners who became potential big-fight rivals. 

But, ahead of headlining a big night for Bolton sport at the Whites Hotel this Saturday night, Jack Cullen and Jack Flatley say they are hoping to combine to make Steve Wood’s VIP bill a night that will live long in the memory of the town’s boxing fans. 

Little Lever Meat Cleaver’ Cullen faces Jack Sellars for the English middleweight title while Flatley takes on Craig Morris for the super welterweight version of the belt. 

Having both been under Tommy Battel’s wing at Metro ABC as youngsters before Flatley linked up with  Alex Matvienko at Elite Boxing, there has always been a competitive edge between the two as they have made their way in the sport. 

But that will all be put to one side as both look to continue their promising professional careers by winning a first major title. 

The Bolton News: Jack CullenJack Cullen

“We trained together and ended up fighting each other in the championships when we were younger,” says Cullen, the 25-year-old who has lost just one of 16 fights.  

“I couldn’t tell you how many spars we had in all. We used to spar about three times a week with each other. 

“We know each other really well. 

“When we first turned pro he was a lot higher ranked than me and that’s the main reason I wanted to fight him. 

“All that’s changed now though. 

“He’s moved down a weight and we’re friends at the end of the day. 

“Whenever we see each other we speak and it’s going to be great for two Jacks to come out with two English titles.”

The Bolton News: Jack Flatley Jack Flatley

Flatley, who has one draw on an unbeaten 15-fight record, decided 12 months ago to drop down to the 154lb class, putting any talk of a ‘Battle of Bolton’ on hold. 

Like Cullen, he knows talk of deciding who is the top dog in town is to be expected, given the industry they operate in. 

“We were together from about 12 or 13 to near enough 20,” said the 24-year-old from Farnworth, dubbed Quiet Storm. 
“There’s always going to be competitiveness when you’re at the same weight. 

“It’s one of those though, there’s respect there and we both want each other to win. 

“Apart from boxing, we’re friends out of the ring. 

“We sparred all the time a few years back and it’s just boxing. That’s all it is.”

Both men are well aware of just what a significant night Saturday will be, both individually and in terms of where the event will rank in recent Bolton sporting history. 

The two main events are supported by an undercard which includes some of the North West’s top prospects including former Elite fighter Luke Blackledge,  Clitheroe’s one-time Commonwealth super middleweight champion. 

“It’s special,” said Flatley, whose draw came against fellow unbeaten fighter Troy Williamson in June of last year.

“Steve has said it is one of his biggest shows and for him to say that with the fighters he’s had on his shows is a big compliment to me and Jack. 

“We’re both from Bolton, fighting for titles having started out as kids together and now hopefully we can become champions and bring the belts back to Bolton.”

Cullen and Flatley will certainly have home advantage on the night, a vocal crowd expected to be in attendance with both men having seen their respective fanbases snap up tickets. 

Victory could also see them move towards the very top of the domestic rankings, potentially setting up some big fights before the year is out. 

“Every fight night is a big night but this is a really big night,” said Cullen, on a six-fight winning streak.  

“It’s for the English title which would be my first of the main titles. 

“It’s at Bolton’s ground in front of all my fans. 

“There’s going to be more than 300 people there supporting me. 

“I need to put on a good performance to show Steve and everyone else that I’m in the right category and am climbing that ladder. 

“It’s all right saying it but you’ve got to prove it as well.”