By: Sean Crose
In the raucous cauldron of Elland Road, hometown favourite, Josh Warrington became the new IBF featherweight champion, and Leeds’ first boxing world champion after earning a split decision over ‘Lighting’ Lee Selby.
From the first bell the crowd bayed for blood, and that’s exactly what they got as, within the first two rounds Lee Selby sustained a cut to his left eye, from what the crowd presumed to be a head clash, though it didn’t seem to deter the Welsh champion from taking the centre of the ring.
Photo Credit: BoxNation Twitter Account
Selby was fighting well from distance through 4 but seemed unable to react when Warrington rushed in and fired off combinations that threw the Welshman off his stride. By the 5th round, Selby’s face was streaming with blood, but the heavily favoured Warrington crowd were loving it, as Josh landed the crowd-pleasing punches, and began to gather momentum both psychologically and physically.
Into the middle rounds, and Warrington began to dominate, but the question remained over whether the Leeds native had the power to take Selby out. The IBF champion seemed so unable to avoid Warrington’s hooks. Time and time again ‘Lighting’ Lee looked dominant from a distance but as soon as Josh piled on the pressure, there was nowhere to hide for the Welshman as he struggled to dodge the attack coming his way.
The championship rounds were upon us in what seemed like fleeting moments, this was a featherweight classic, as both fighters seemed to be going hell for leather through rounds 9 & 10. By now, Selby’s right eye was cut along with his left.
In some cases, a boxer’s face post-fight doesn’t adequately tell the story, in this case however, it probably did. Warrington began to take control over ‘Lightening’ Lee through 10, 11 & 12, though not without a fight from Selby, but it proved not enough.
The scorecards came back as, 113-115 Selby, 116-112, 115-113 Warrington, and a new featherweight champion was crowned.
Selby understandably made a quick exit from the stadium post-fight, but Warrington was more than happy to talk about tonight’s bout, and the battles to come,
‘I’ve been doubted for a very long time…I’ve always been confident throughout the build-up of this fight. Press conferences, open workouts, I’ve always massively believed I’ve had this fight won…As soon as I got into the venue tonight, it all lifted.’
‘I was doubted at English level, I was doubted at British level…I haven’t got punching power, I haven’t got the speed, I haven’t got the boxing intelligence, but I’ve just out boxed and outfought and outsmarted a brilliant champion in Lee Selby.’
When asked about future fights, the new IBF champion wasn’t shy in mentioning Frampton in his plans,
‘Carl Frampton keeps on getting mentioned but Windsor Park might be a little bit too soon. I wouldn’t mind going back to the (First Direct) Arena and defend this baby, and then possibly see about fighting Carl after that.’
Jack Catterall vs Christopher Sebire
In what would’ve been the headline act of the undercard, if it hadn’t of ended so early, Jack Catterall continued his momentum by earning a technical knockout over Christopher Sebire.
Sebire weighed 2lbs over the limit going into the bout, but it made no difference to ‘El Gato’ as he went in for the kill as the first bell tolled. The Frenchman was knocked down by a precise left-hand straight from Catterall, and he stayed down from then on. Sebire complained of an injured shoulder, but even if true, he wanted nothing to do with the British super lightweight.
Catterall now moves on to bigger and better fights. Domestically, many fans are calling for an Ohara Davies vs ‘El Gato’ matchup, which would see how far Catterall is from the best of the British super lightweights, Josh Taylor.
Nicola Adams vs Soledad del Valle Frias
In her first scheduled 10-rounder, Nicola Adams made lightwork of three-time world title challenger, and now, 13-12-4, Soledad del Valle Frias.
As expected, Nicola dominated from the first bell and looked to impress her home crowd of Leeds fans immediately, though her body shot KO came just before the end of the 1st round and left a number of the crowd confused as to whether the fight had ended or not.
It turned out it had, as the referee waved away Valle Frias, and opened the door for Adams to challenge the likes of current super flyweight champions, Linda Luca, Guadalupe Guzman, Debora Dionicius, or the German based, Raja Amasheh.