In front of a partizan crowd of Lioners, Josh Warrington made history and became the first boxing world champion from Leeds when he earned a hard fought points win against Lee Selby at Elland Road.
From the first bell the pace was set. There was no time for either man to sit back and work out their opponent as within seconds Warrington had landed 3 or 4 straights which were markers for what his approach was going to be in this fight: Win the world title or go out on his shield. Warrington’s fast start seemed to surprised Selby who wasn’t allowed to get into any sort of rhythm throughout the fight. Warrington’s come forward style gave the Welsh champion more than just a head ache as Selby was cut twice from accidental head clashes, the first coming in the second round. The head clashes didn’t seem to deter Warrington, in fact nothing seemed to all fight. “Marching on Together” was the song chanted out by the crowd which seemingly empowered Warrington who marched forward unfazed by anything Selby had to offer – much to the pleasure of those in attendance.
The Leeds faithful cheered every single bit of success that the local man had, even cheering when he didn’t land which if you were swayed by the raucous crowd would have led you to believe this was a shut out win for the challenger. Selby did have some success of his own, coming into the fight and pulling some rounds back by the midway point. But even that success didn’t deter Warrington’s constant forward pressing, even when he wasn’t working as much as his Welsh counterpart he was pleasing his fans with his gung ho style.
The championship rounds were where Warrington seemingly put the result beyond doubt, finishing the fight how he started it – on the front foot landing almost at will. A split decision points victory may have tainted the new champions crowning night, but the correct result was achieved and the IBF Featherweight championship made its new home in Leeds.
Many prior to the fight said Warrington’s only hope was to sit on Selby’s chest and brawl his way to a win. But he didn’t “sit” on Selby’s chest at all. As much as he brawled his way to a win, he also boxed he way there – switching between the two seamlessly to keep Selby off balance all fight. The biggest shock was his ability to out jab someone who was billed as having the better jab. It was as if the stars had aligned for Warrington to be at his best and make Selby look like a second rate champion.
The fan friendly main event somewhat saved this show from being an awful one, especially for those who watched on TV. If you were tuning into BT Sport or BoxNation hoping for a jam packed night of boxing you would have been sorely disappointed. The televised coverage only had 4 scheduled fights on it and we were told that the chief support was from the Kaiser Chiefs…
As disappointing as the televised coverage was, the first fight shown was a very entertaining one between Darren Tetley and Mason Cartwright for the vacant WBO European Welterweight Title. Cartwright started the better and ran off to an early lead but by the 7th round it was nip and tuck, with a lot of credit having to go to Tetley and his team for keeping their composure during those torrid early rounds and sticking to their game plan. The 8th made it even closer when Cartwright was rightly given a count when both his gloves touched the canvas after he’d been clipped. Tetley seemed to smell blood and went for the kill, but ended the round being caught himself and retreating to keep his distance and to ensure he won the round – the extra point could have been telling on the scorecards.
The fight was called off in the 9th after the doctor said Cartwright was in no position to continue. The crowd booed the decision as this fight had the potential to be a card stealing fight but the it was the right call. Tetley had landed a punch on Cartwright’s lip which split it from top to bottom – he was walking around the ring with two top lips. It was the right decision by the ref and the doctor as the cut was a brutal one and would have required several stitches and more than likely some plastic surgery. Cartwright protested the decision – his warrior heart and nature wanting to carry on and see whether he could grind out the victory. When you look at the scorecards Cartwright will undoubtedly feel hard done by – he was ahead on two and the third was level but his health and future were rightly paramount and because of the doctor and refs decision he will be able to fight another day – hopefully in a rematch against Tetley as both deserve the chance to prove they would have won regardless of the cut in this, their first meeting.
The other two fights that were scheduled to be televised were poor. Not in the talent of the victors but in the poor timekeeping in one and quality of opponent in the other.
The next fight was Nicola Adams OBE, who was fighting a 3 time world title challenger in the form of Soledad del Valle Frias. Adams came out of the blocks like a greyhound, not giving her more experienced opponent any time to catch her breath. Adams was relentless and hurt Frias several times throughout the round. The finish came 2mins 46 seconds into the first round… a round which was suppose to be 2 minutes long. How the timekeeper got his timing so wrong was unbelievable and inexcusable. Taking nothing away from Adams though as even if the bell had gone at the end of the two minutes, she’d have stopped her opponent sooner rather than later – such were her improvements in the ring. It seemed that Adams had finally transitioned from being a standout Amateur star to an accomplished pro who knew when to sit on her shots and follow up on her successes and who knew when to step back and asses the situation.
The other dreadful televised undercard fight (and technically chief support fight as long as you don’t count the Kaiser Chiefs) was Jack Catterall vs Christopher Sabire for the WBO Inter-Continental Super-Lightweight Title. Sabire was dropped early in the first and then spent the rest of the fight looking for a way out of it. His way out was to say that he’d dislocated his shoulder – which was then put back in before the result was made official by the timekeeper. The commentary team said the poor quality of the fight was nothing to do with Catterall and he could only beat who was put in front of him, but why didn’t he defend the British title along side his WBO Inter-Continental title? A fight against any of Glenn Foot, Josh Leather, Ohara Davies, Akeem Ennis Brown or even a rematch with Tyrone Nurse would have been better for Catterall going forward. And if he is to challenge the winner of Flanagan vs Hooker for the WBO Super-Lightweight World title, he’d have needed a sterner test than the one Sabire gave him.
Because of the very early finishes in the three televised undercard fights we were treated to an actual good fight when the live float was put on. Willie Hutchinson took on the ever durable and underrated Adam Jones. Jones would definitely be at least an Area title level fighter if he had the backing of a promoter, but he seems happy to be a road warrior to give these novices and contenders a good learning experience on their way to title fights. And that’s what happened here. Willie Hutchinson was making his debut on a Warren show having had his previous three fights in the paid ranks on Hayemaker Ringstar shows. The talented Hutchinson was working with his new trainer Dominic Ingle for the first time and the work they’d done together in one camp showed. Gone was the over excited approach from his previous fights. Although still entertaining, Hutchinson boxed clever and made what could have been a potential banana skin seem a relatively straight forward fight and win.
Warrington vs Selby and Tetley vs Cartwright saved a televised card that was poor on many different levels. The fact that the Kaiser Chiefs were our “chief support act” when there was talent worthy of TV time on the undercard is mind boggling. Why wasn’t Ohara Davies debut under the Warren banner televised? Or Lyon Woodstock, who was making his return to the ring after his fight of the year contending win against Craig Poxton. Or Mark Heffron who will now in his next fight challenge for the WBC Silver title? Or even Fred Evans, the 2012 Olympic Silver medallist. Any of these four talents were more deserving of the television time than a performance from the Kaiser Chiefs. I know it was Josh Warrington’s dream to have the Kaiser Chiefs play at his world title fight, but why not just get them in to do his entrance? That would have been acceptable.
It would/could have been ok if more of the undercard had been shown on the BoxNation coverage of the show like had been done in the past, but both BoxNation’s and BT’s coverage started at the same time. What is the point of a channel dedicated to boxing that isn’t even showing all the live boxing it has the rights to?
The production also needed to be worked on, with microphones playing up all night – whether it was losing sound when people were talking or getting feedback which resulted in the person talking being inaudible. Even Carl Frampton who was ringside as a pundit, questioned what was going on live on air when he was handed two mics that were faulty after his original wasn’t working correctly.
Let’s not get started on the fact Josh Warrington and Carl Frampton’s name’s were mixed up by Frank Warren and the presenter…
To finish on a positive note: congratulations to Josh Warrington who is the new IBF Featherweight champion of the world. It was throughly deserved and proved that patience can be a virtue. The boxing world is seemingly his oyster now and if he’s guided correctly he could become as big a star outside of Leeds as he is in it.