Kid Galahad: ‘Josh Warrington is fighting someone hungrier than him, fresher than him’
The names of Naseem Hamed, Johnny Nelson, Kell Brook and Junior Witter roll off a British fight fan’s tongue.
Playing word association, you may then think ‘Ingle’, Wincobank’ and ‘awkward’.
They were all fighters who wondered into the St. Thomas Gym on the hill in Wincobank, Sheffield, hoping boxing would either give them a better life or a way out and on Saturday Kid Galahad believes his name will go alongside that illustrious list.
He fights IBF featherweight titleholder Josh Warrington in the First Direct Arena in Leeds on Saturday in a hotly-anticipated Yorkshire grudge match.
In many ways, he represents the last of a time that is almost over, the final fighter of note that trainer Brendan Ingle was involved in before he died last year.
The enigmatic Irishman did not just craft world champions, he enriched a community and showed many a young, disenfranchised youth an alternative to crime and prison.
“I’m the last one who Brendan actually spent any time with,” said Galahad (26-0, 15 knockouts). “I spent time with him from the age of 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 all the way up until he passed away last year, but on June 15 I’m going to win that title, not just for me but for him as well.
“It’s a privilege to be even named alongside someone like him. He’s one of the greatest trainers of all time. They speak of Cus D’Amato, Emanuel Steward and Brendan Ingle, possibly the three greatest trainers of all time. You’ve got to remember I’ve been prepared for this all my life. Brendan’s been getting me ready for this. I haven’t been preparing for this fight for the last 12 weeks like (Warrington) has. I’ve been preparing for this fight since I was 12, 13 years old. I’m more than ready for this. I believe this is destiny. It’s meant to be. It’s written. It was written for Josh Warrington to beat Lee Selby and Carl Frampton and I think when he beat them he had 26 fights. 2018 was a great year for him, but 2019 there’s a hungry young lion called Kid Galahad and 2019 is going to be my year.”
Galahad is the IBF’s mandatory. While Warrington and his vocal army of fans have been looking to kick on and enter the fray of unification fights, Galahad is hoping to gatecrash the world scene.
He’s been a pro for a decade, although served a two-year ban after his brother allegedly spiked a shake with a banned substance. Galahad always maintained his innocence and had his sentence was cut by six months. And now he’s here, knocking on the world title door.
“It’s worth the wait,” he said. “I’ve been training 16 years of my life, 10 years as a pro, 26 fights as a professional, it’s taken a long time but I’m here, all for this spot now. Brendan’s prepared me well.”
The atmosphere is likely to be red-hot on the night. Warrington’s supporters are among the most vocal in British sport but Galahad, sensing destiny, seems to be taking it calmly in his stride.
“If you want to be a champion these are the things you’ve got to do,” he said. “You’ve got to go in the lion’s den. I went over to America to box Toka Kahn in a final eliminator, went into his hometown [Boston, Kahn lives in nearby Providence) and beat him so it’s nothing new.”
And there is animosity between the boxers.
Warrington has maintained that Galahad should have been banned for life while his mandatory challenger insists the Leeds man’s reputation has been built on the back of wins over a weight-drained Lee Selby and a past-his-best Carl Frampton.
“As a fighter, when you fight anybody there’s got to be a certain amount of animosity,” Galahad admitted. “You don’t want to be fighting someone who’s a friend. At the end of the day boxing is a business and the name of the game is to win.
“Some people say I’m the good guy, some people say I’m the bad guy. It doesn’t really matter, does it? We’re going to be fighting on June 15th and that’s all that matters.
“I believe he’s the best fighter I’ve boxed on paper and I believe on paper I’m the best fighter he’s boxed. When he boxed Selby he was struggling badly to make the weight and should have moved up two or three fights ago – it was amazing how he had made that weight – and Frampton, his last three or four fights he’s not looked the same. But you can’t discredit Warrington. You can only beat the people in front of you and he beat them both. Now he’s at the point where he’s fighting someone hungrier than him, fresher than him and who’s willing to go the extra step (further) than he is.”
Galahad sees himself as a patient, Hagleresque-type contender who’s waited for his shot, paid his dues and who no one really wants to fight. With that in mind, the 29-year-old thinks this could be the only world title opportunity he gets in his career.
In his corner he will have Dominic Ingle, one of Brendan’s sons and a top trainer in his own right. He, too, believes this is Galahad’s destiny.
“You can’t underestimate Josh Warrington, what you see is what you get,” Ingle added.
What kind of fight is he expecting?
“It depends on what Josh Warrington brings. We’ve seen him come out against Selby and Frampton full-steam ahead and he’s jumped on them, he’s a machine, he comes forward. It’s knowing how deal with that and Barry [Galahad’s real name is Barry Awad] knows how to deal with all kinds of styles – so it’s going to be set by what Warrington wants to do and Barry will adjust to what is happening.
“It’s going to be a tough fight, no way do we think it’s going to be an easy fight. But he [Barry] loves boxing, he loves training, he’s not one of these kids who after a fight will have any more than a week off. He’ll still come back to the gym on a Monday morning and keep his momentum going.
“Most people think it’s a 60-40, 70-30 fight in the favor of Josh Warrington and in a way it is because of where it is, he’s the champion and it’s on his promoter’s bill.”
Frank Warren promotes, BT Sport televise in the U.K. (ESPN+ will broadcast the fight in the U.S.)
“On June 15th we will have Naseem Hamed, Johnny Nelson, Junior Witter, Kell Brook, we will have the fifth world champion who has been developed from the ground up in this gym,” Ingle predicted. “Kid Galahad’s going to be the fifth one we’ve brought through from scratch. Brendan said 14-15 years ago that he’s going to be the next one. I’m 100 percent of the belief that he’s going to win.”
For Dominic, as his father’s health faltered, he hoped that Brendan would be around to see Galahad get his big chance, but he passed away on May 25 last year.
Barry is the last one, the one charged with bridging the handover from Brendan to Dominic, the one to keep Brendan’s already immortalized name in lights and the one to follow on from Hamed, Nelson, Witter and Brook as Brendan’s last fighter.
“Yes, he is, and it was always in the back of my mind, hoping that he was going to make it through for Barry to get his chance,” Dominic reflected. “If he’s looking down on us it will be nice when Barry wins.”