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Josh Warrington: ‘Everything we’ve worked on will be good enough to beat Lee Selby’

Photo courtesy of www.frankwarren.com




15
May

Normally Elland Road in Leeds, England, stages soccer matches, but this weekend it will function as a battleground of a different type.

On Saturday, in an all-British affair, local hero Josh Warrington will challenge Welshman Lee Selby for the latter’s IBF featherweight title in front of approximately 20,000 fans. It’s a matchup which has been brewing for several years and, like most soccer stadium events, promises to be an electric occasion.

Warrington, who is rated No. 9 by THE RING at 126 pounds, is a talented pressure-fighter who has been growing impatient. The former British, Commonwealth and European champion has crossed every “t” and dotted every “i” during his rise, and there are no more dragons left to slay – unless of course there’s a world title at stake.

“It’s been a long journey, but it’s been a great journey,” Warrington (26-0, 6 knockouts) told THE RING. “As a fighter, I’ve developed over the years, stepping up the levels and biding my time. Timing is everything in boxing and this is the right time for me. I’m ready to step up to the next level and become world champion.

“After my last fight (TKO 10 Dennis Ceylan in October), it was like, how many hurdles do I have to cross before someone gives me the opportunity to fight for the big one? I’ve beat Hasashi Amagasa (UD12), Patrick Hyland (TKO 9) and Kiko Martinez (MD 12), who was a former world champion, so I’ve been knocking on the door for about two years now.”

The bout is being contested at Elland Road because Warrington is a huge supporter of home team Leeds United and brings a large crossover fanbase. The experienced Selby, who is rated No. 5 by THE RING, insists that he is unfazed by what will undoubtedly be a very hostile atmosphere.

Warrington, however, was eager to point out that his support should not be linked to the crowd trouble that has raised it’s head in U.K. soccer down the years – his fans are also boxing fans.

“I understand the cliché because football is the dominant sport in this country,” said Warrington matter-of-factly. “But with a sport like boxing, if someone is local and they make a bit of noise, then 99 percent of the time fans get behind them. Sure my fans will have been down to Elland Road and supported Leeds, but does that mean they can’t follow boxing?

“I love my fanbase – they’re notoriously crazy and they make lots of noise (laughs). A lot of them have been there since day one when I made my debut. I’ve boxed all over the country now and some of them have been to every single fight. They’re so loyal and I’ll be forever indebted to them because without fans we’re nobody. The people make you and you’re never too big to interact with them or take a picture.”

From left to right: Selby, promoter Frank Warren and Warrington. Photo courtesy of www.frankwarren.com

As polite and professional as Warrington is, there is more than one side to him. The challenger is articulate, witty and personable, but Selby (26-1, 9 KOs) has lit a fire under him with constant barbs about his skill level and the name-calling he has aimed at his beloved fans.

“The animosity was genuine, but I’m in the zone now,” Warrington acknowledged. “Throughout my career, whenever Lee’s been asked about me as a fighter, he’s discredited me. I’ve always said he’s a good fighter, but he can’t say anything positive. He mocks my fans, calling them monkeys and saying they’re just football plans. I take that personally because those fans have supported me for a long time. If you disrespect them, you disrespect me.

“I don’t understand this approach of building yourself up by tearing other people down. I believe, whoever gets in the ring deserves credit because I know how much sacrifice is involved and we’re putting our lives on the line. To downplay other fighter’s achievements is wrong, but we have 12 rounds to sort this out old-school style. In the old days, if my Dad had a bicker with friends of his, they’d get on the cobbles and sort it out. That’s the way to do it.”

Well, we don’t have cobbles on Saturday night, but canvas is a solid substitute. The oddsmakers have Warrington installed as a 3-1 underdog, favoring Selby’s slickness and maturity at top level. It must be said, however, that this fight elicits a broad spectrum of opinion among experts. I’ve encountered those who think Warrington is completely out of his depth and others who give him an excellent chance of victory.

During our conversation, the unbeaten challenger came across as relaxed, but there was a quiet and visceral confidence whenever fight night was discussed.

“There’s certain things that we’ve seen over the years from studying Lee,” Warrington said. “Taking nothing away from him, he’s a world champion who’s made plenty of defenses, but he hasn’t looked the best in his last couple of performances. There’s also rumors that he struggles with weight and there’s been some inactivity. Add all that together with me in my prime and fitter than I’ve ever been.

“Lee’s cute if you give him time and distance and let him dictate the pace. That’s not to say that I’m going to run in there wailing my arms – you’ve got to be clever. If you jump in on straight lines, he’s going to make you pay. You’ve got to have a couple of different game plans in case something doesn’t work and we’ve accounted for that. I believe that everything we’ve worked on will be good enough to beat him.”

The fight and undercard will be aired live on BT Sport/ BoxNation from 7:30 p.m. local time.

 

Tom Gray is Associate Editor for THE RING. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

 

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  • Randall Bannister

    ‘Elland Road stages soccer matches’ Yeah but they don’t play much ‘soccer’. Tom, as a proud Scotsman that must’ve hurt being told by Dougie to change football to soccer….out of interest who do you support?

    Edit: Really looking forward to this fight, Warrington is all heart and all action but I think Selby is just too skilful and experienced. Selby by SD because of the home support that Warrington has. Anywhere else in the country and it’s a UD.

    • Tom Gray

      Hahahahahahahaha

      Doug didn’t tell me to do it. I just know that I have to do it because it’s a US publication. I’m not a “football” fan mate BUT, in a massive and ironic twist, I’m from Motherwell and that’s who I like to see win.

      My mates are all at the final this weekend, but I’ll be in Devon at my nephew’s 21st..

      • Randall Bannister

        It’s a US publication posted on the World Wide Web….HAHAHA. It’s all good, just glad U.K. boxers get the exposure they deserve in the US of A.

        I think everyone apart from Bhoys fans wants Motherwell to win on Saturday. Enjoy the piss up….

        • Tom Gray

          It is indeed but being a US brand means American English comes first. After almost 1000 articles I’m actually almost converted myself. But football will always be… well… fitba!

          Enjoy the weekend 😉

          • Randall Bannister

            When you hit the 1000 articles mark, you should have a little celebration. You know, like they do in supermarkets for their 1 millionth customer.

            What happened to this new podcast you promised?

          • Tom Gray

            LOL As you know, I’m Scottish and I’d celebrate the opening of an envelope. You can bet your house on it!

            Randall, honest, I was on a call with Doug last night and podcasts were discussed, as was the regret of not getting on it sooner. I SHALL RETURN!

          • Stephen M

            Wouldn’t a true Scot celebrate opening an envelope without damaging it so it could be used again? You guys have a rep!

    • Gian Torres

      @ “Tom, as a proud Scotsman that must’ve hurt being told by Dougie to change football to soccer” “I just know that I have to do it because it’s a US publication. ”

      M.A.G.A.!!!!!!

      • Randall Bannister

        M.A.G.A.

        How’s that working out for you?

        • Stephen M

          I think it’s working well for him, idiots are getting more prominent posts.

          • Gian Torres

            Bouta get more prominent soon! Stay your ass in comments sections where irrelevant idiots belong. Bye!

          • Gian Torres

            Then again maybe I’ll stay on my terms. Your self importance in comments sections(LOL!) inspired an idea–> Maybe I should get 100’s+ Mexicans to write in Ring’s comments sections to make you more of an irrelevant loser. Dang, that would break your heart wouldn’t it?!?! LOL! FOH! Keep talking and stay here you idiot and wait to see what’s my next move. Wave at me from afar some time, loser! Bye!

          • Stephen M

            Self importance? Do you read any of your own comments. Childish twit. Bye!

          • Gian Torres

            I’m emphasizing the importance of ***MEXICAN BOXING FAN$ AND THEIR $$$$*** you dummy!!! LOL! You might be trying to manipulate Tom Gray by thinking you’re going to marginalize me in his eyes but let me tell you about my chess pieces–>
            1) Mexican boxing fan$
            2) Mexican boxing fan$ are more important to Tom Gray than Stephen M.
            3) Mexican boxing fan$ are more important to Tom Gray’s bosses than Tom Gray or Stephen M.

            And it helps that you’re a very poor strategist, that’s why you have to work so, soooooo hard… because you’re also irrational and lack critical thinking. LOL!

          • TNT

            You’re delusional. Nobody important at GB or the ringmagazine cares much about what we write down in the disqus section. Yet you believe that you can persuade someone important and rally Mexican boxing fans. LMFAO!

            ¡Ni siquiera sabes escribir en español! No manches.

        • Gian Torres

          You from the U.K.? OK, get rid of your royals 1st before you mock me about my politics you fool! Who the hell has royals running around at the expense of millions of $$$+ yearly except for fools? LOL! No cancer is good cancer and that’s what royals are and always have been. They’re a weak cancer today but they will inevitably be a deadly cancer if you give them enough time. I’m not a republican btw. Political parties are also cancer but I’m an Independent because I advocate the weakening of the strongest parties. F.Y.I.

          • Randall Bannister

            I’m not usually drawn into political debates on the internet as they’re normally as waste of time but I’ll bite this time.

            firstly let me start by stating that i’m in no way a royalist but I’ll defend them when necessary….this is one of those times.

            The royal family of the U.K. only have ceremonial powers at best, the Queen can veto a politician’s right to become PM but in reality this power doesn’t exist as it hasn’t been exercised since 1834.

            Now lets talk about the Royal family themselves, firstly the Queen (who is now 91) has about 1000 engagements a year, holds government meetings and reads highly classified documents almost everyday, all of this while being ‘head of state’ for about 40 countries. all of her children served in the armed forces without pay, her grandchildren are the same, the Queen also drove ambulances during the war. Now let’s talk about them being a ‘cancer’ on our country, not only does our country make money from the revenues they generate from their land which they handover to the government, but the royal family generate nearly a billion pounds a year in tourism alone.

            Yes the government ‘pays’ the royal family but the amount they receive is far less than they pay out.

            I don’t think the above sounds like a cancer to me….

            Now lets talk about Donald….Doesn’t believe in climate change, is trying undo the legacy of the best president of my life time, Is only looking out for his interests, yet you think he’s ‘Making America Great Again’, Oh and he’s the most racially divisive president since before the civil war, especially with Mexicans.

          • Gian Torres

            “The royal family of the U.K. only have ceremonial powers at best, the Queen can veto a politician’s right to become PM but in reality this power doesn’t exist as it hasn’t been exercised since 1834.”

            WTF! First off, you’re worse off than I thought. Those rats have the power to veto a politician’s right to become PM and read highly classified documents?!?! WOW! That’s terrible and terrifying! Anyways, they’re not nearly as bad as they could be today but there are also millions of people with cancer at it’s early stages and they don’t know it yet and it will inevitably be deadly. Cancer at it’s very early stages is just like your smiling royals, not so bad today but inevitably deadly tomorrow. It doesn’t matter that they’re bringing in money, kings have always done that, bring in money from throughout the world, from lands they conquered, meanwhile they kicked their citizens asses at home. Throw those sumbitches out quick! Turn their palaces into historical museums and keep the money from tourism, sell the lands surrounding the palaces while you save yourselves a ton of money by keeping their salaries for the people that need it. Not sure why you’re going on about the Donald as I made clear politicians and royals are one and the same type of cancer. I will tell you that I dislike the Democrats much more than Republicans because they’re a later stage of cancer than Republicans in my eyes because lefties are much more deeply rooted throughout the world than righties and that is a more clear and immediate threat to me if you connect the dots. Republicans are the enemy of my enemy for me, that’s all. I hope to read better things from you if you respond because all I got from you is that you defend royals and you’re a political partisan. WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!