Last weekend, Josh Warrington cemented himself firmly into the top bracket of featherweights as he clung onto his IBF strap besting Carl Frampton over twelve, hard-fought rounds.
He was a big underdog coming into the fight. The Leeds Warrior has been labelled with the tag of a volume puncher without any real substance for the past couple of years; his 2018 has dispelled this myth and underlined his technical superiority at 126-pounds.
Standing and trading with Frampton in the opening two rounds set the narrative for the fight. Frampton was rocked on several occasions as the Jackal struggled to negate the ferocious attacks coming his way; Warrington planted his feet and landed bomb after bomb, with the size of the champion in comparison to Frampton being slept on pre-fight.
It’s not an excuse for Frampton; it’s not one he’s used, either. “A good biggun will always beat a good littlen” isn’t a phrase that can be adjoined to this fight. Frampton has had most of his success at super-bantamweight, however, at this stage in his career, the size of Warrington at feather was noticeable on fight night, where it perhaps wasn’t so pre-fight.
Warrington did the same in May to Lee Selby. Warrington overwhelmed the Welshman in a mature performance that earnt him his IBF strap; once again he was the underdog coming into this fight.
It’s been quite the climb for the Leeds Warrior. He’s taken a natural, somewhat old-fashioned route through the boxing tiers, finally shaking off the tag that his rise to stardom has come off the back of a raucous Leeds United supporting fan base.
English to Commonwealth. Commonwealth to British. British to European. European to International. International to World. Warrington has collected trinkets en route to becoming one of the stars of his division; it’s hard to place a British fighter above him in terms of achievement in 2018.
Dillian Whyte has recorded wins over Lucas Browne, Joseph Parker and Dereck Chisora. Anthony Joshua has picked up wins over Parker and Alexander Povetkin. Callum Smith scooped the World Boxing Super Series at super-middle as well as becoming WBA world champion and Charlie Edwards claimed the WBC flyweight title, however, two world title fight wins over favourited former champions has given Warrington the nod, in my eyes.
I’d like to see him defend his strap abroad. His diehard support is the closest we’ve seen in Britain since the days of Ricky Hatton. Thousands of travelling Mancunians will now be replaced by a Leeds faithful who will, without doubt, travel in healthy numbers if Warrington seals a unification fight in the States.
Leo Santa Cruz. Gary Russell Jr. Oscar Valdez. Three targets for Warrington in 2019 as he continues this remarkable rise in the sport. You’d have to imagine the Leeds Warrior would enter all three of those contests as an underdog, however, as we’ve seen this year, this underdog has one hell of a bite.