Josh Warrington has come a long way since his boxing career started out in the leisure halls around Leeds back in 2009.
Ten years on from his first professional bout, Warrington screams, “People say I can’t punch” down the lens of a television camera.
It was a reference to criticism he had received prior to his second-round knockout of Sofiane Takoucht. For some, there were still question marks circling over Warrington’s technique, despite his repeated successes against established fighters.
Warrington’s frustration and anger weren’t down to just the critiques of his power, it was also as a result of his failure to secure a world title unification bout. That is very much the next thing on Warrington’s agenda as he plans to make 2020 a year to remember.
With that in mind, we take a look back at how Josh Warrington made it to this point in his career. We also preview what may be ahead for him next year and the potential fights that could get supporters juices flowing and send the sportsbook markets into flux.
Josh Warrington’s most recent win was perhaps his most impressive yet, as it sent a clear signal to potential opponents across the Atlantic.
The Fights That Made Josh Warrington
Josh Warrington started his professional career in 2009, and like many young boxers that turn pro, found the step-up to be a lot easier than he had envisaged. Warrington won all of his ten opening fights, but there was a feeling at the time that it would have been harder for him to lose some bouts, considering the quality of his opponents.
In November 2012 Warrington faced his first real test, a fight against Chris Male in Dudley for the English featherweight title. Male was certainly no prodigy, but he was an experienced fighter with a ferocious punch that had knocked out Fikret Remziev only six months prior.
A knock-out victory by Warrington may have made the headlines, but instead, the Leeds-born fighter won by unanimous decision. Over ten rounds Warrington pulled Male from pillar to post, demonstrating his technical skill, poise and guile.
This fight wasn’t just important in that it represented Warrington’s first professional title. It was important as it sent shockwaves throughout the division, signalling the arrival of a potential future champion.
In the six years that followed Warrington’s unanimous decision victory over Chris Male, there were, of course, a series of important fights. The fight against Samir Mouneimne that won the vacant Commonwealth featherweight title and the subsequent clash against Rendall Munroe that retained it.
However, the big one was always going to be a fight against Lee Selby that gave Warrington the chance to get his hands on the IBF world title. After beating Dennis Ceylan by technical knock-out in the winter of 2017, Josh Warrington turned his attentions to Lee Selby.
Speaking after the fight, he said;
“I want to get the Welshman up here. If we can make it at Elland Road, let’s have it. I’ve waited so long and now I’m there.”
Josh Warrington got his wish, in January of the following year Lee Selby arrived at Elland Road to defend his IBF belt. Lucas Radebe, The Kaizer Chiefs and thousands of animated Leeds United fans all arrived to cheer Warrington onto victory.
Ultimately their encouragement made the difference as Josh Warrington received a split-decision victory after outworking, outthinking and outpunching Selby over the course of a frantic twelve rounds.
This victory represented an arrival for Warrington, on a journey that he had started out nine years previously in dilapidated leisure centres across Yorkshire. How fitting then, that the moment be played out in Warrington’s home city in front of his fellow Leeds United fans.
If there is one fighter in the world that can rival Warrington for loyal fans, it is Belfast-born Carl “The Jackal” Frampton. Thousands of Ulster men and women made the journey to Manchester to watch him take on Warrington in a bid to take the belt the Leeds Warrior had only just won.
For Josh Warrington, this was a real test. It was not a regular title defence, it was a title defence against one of the most feared fighters in the division. It would also be a struggle for Warrington to raise his mental levels after only very recently edging out Lee Selby in an emotional fight.
Fears that Warrington would be slow to start in this fight were put to bed almost immediately as the Leeds Warrior hit Frampton with a hit that threatened to end the fight before it had even got started.
The Northern Irishman recovered in typically dogged fashion and took Warrington the full distance. Warrington won by a unanimous points decision, but he was made to work very, very hard indeed for his victory.
Josh Warrington further demonstrated his star status with this stunning victory over Carl Frampton
The manner of Warrington’s victory coupled with the power and stamina he showed that night earned him the respect of the entire division. Not only had he taken down Lee Selby in his previous fight, but he had then followed it up with an emphatic win over another major name in the division.
It was a win that set Warrington up for a major unification bout, or so he thought…
What Next For Warrington?
The Leeds Warrior has had his heart set on a unification bout for some time, and his most recent fight against Sofiane Takoucht was nothing more than a stop-gap as he waits for someone bigger to fight.
The men that stand in Warrington’s way for a unification fight have all spoken harshly of the Leeds-based fighter. They have criticised his technique, his power and even his determination, yet none have so far agreed to fight him.
Indeed two of the belts have been vacated, leaving Warrington with a smaller pool of potential opponents. He has twice agreed to fight in America, shown willingness to fight at Elland Road again and even considered going up a weight division.
Yet it has all been to no avail. No-one, it seems, is brave enough to fight Josh Warrington in a unification bout. His only option may be to gain four pounds and take on Oscar Valdez in a fight that could happen in May or June of next year.