World featherweight champion Lee Selby has accused his British rival Josh Warrington of “running scared” after the Leeds fighter pulled out of talks for a huge domestic showdown this summer.
IBF champion Selby was eagerly looking forward to a clash with unbeaten Warrington in either July or August, but negotiations have been halted as the Leeds boxer says he wishes to concentrate on his forthcoming wedding this summer.
Warrington has repeatedly claimed he is determined to face Selby in the ring, preferably in front of his home crowd at Leeds United’s Elland Road – and Selby was happy to make the fight happen even on ‘away’ soil.
As IBF champion Selby was also prepared to take less than a 75 percent cut of the purse, so determined was the Welshman to make the fight happen, but negotiations have now ended.
“This is a plain and simple case of one fighter, Josh Warrington, losing his bottle at the thought of facing me,” said Selby, who made a second successful defence of his crown last month with a unanimous points win over American Eric Hunter in London.
“There is surely nothing worse than a boxer talking the talk, telling all his fans this is what he wants to happen, then pulling out. It has happened many times before in boxing and unfortunately it has happened again as Josh Warrington is running scared.
“The excuse is he wants to get married towards the end of August and needs to concentrate on that. I’ve heard some pretty feeble reasons before for running away from a fight but that’s a new one even on me.
“The fact is the fight was there to be made, I was more than happy to give him a better than 25 percent stake of the purse as he would not have been my mandatory challenger, but even that didn’t bring him to the negotiating table.
“I was looking forward to the challenge of silencing Warrington’s Leeds fans. I would have taken him apart because I belong on a different level to him. To come out publically and say he wants the fight and then when push comes to shove he decides to pull out. I hope his supporters are now aware they are following a fighter who says one thing, but means another.
“Maybe I should have seen this coming Warrington ducked his mandatory Ryan Walsh when he was British champion. Ryan is a good fighter that I defended my British title against in a tough fight. Warrington then relinquished the European title instead of facing mandatory challenger Alex Miskirtchian. Bottling the big challenges has followed him through his career.
“I will box anyone. I had a tricky first defence in America against a former three-weight world champion in Fernando Montiel. Just days before the Montiel fight I found out one of my closest family friends died, but I am a fighting man and I got into the ring and got the job done. That’s what I am like. I then had another really testing mandatory against Eric Hunter, but I didn’t cry off like Warrington has done. I got down to business and beat them both.”
“To all the Warrington fans in and around Leeds, I can only say I’m sorry the fight isn’t going ahead, but the blame for that isn’t mine. I was happy to come to Leeds to fight their man, but Josh Warrington doesn’t want anything to do with me in a ring. Those are the simple facts. Warrington’s supporters can draw their own conclusions.
“As far as I’m concerned that’s the end of the Selby v Warrington saga. I will now move on to the big fights and biggest tests in the featherweight division. His only chance of facing me is to get into my mandatory position and then he can take his 25 percent split of the purse.”
Selby’s manager Chris Sanigar said: “This is a major embarrassment for Warrington and his team. A couple of weeks ago Eddie Hearn told us Elland Road was not going to be the venue, so that’s when I smelt a rat, despite the fact Eddie had been talking about the fight to be staged there in Leeds for the last year. I feel sorry for the British fight fans and subscribers to SKY television who bought into the hype this fight was going to happen.”