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Warrington Edges Galahad, JJ Metcalf and Zelfa Barrett Impress in Leeds


By: Oliver McManus

A cacophonous chorus of Leeds fanatics welcomed their home-hero Josh Warrington into the First Direct Arena in stark contrast to the hostility afforded to, mandatory challenger, Kid Galahad. The passion demonstrated by the capacity crowd is matched only by the heart of their protagonist; in a contest where he was no longer the underdog their were question marks as to how he would gee himself for the circumstances but his legionous following soon put paid to that.

Galahad set about making Warrington uneasy from the off by starting off from the southpaw stance and immediately taking to the centre of the ring. Tapping forward with his rangy front right leg, he was able to close the distance well and ensured he in control of where the fight was fought. Dominic Ingle’s charge would change stance frequently throughout the opening round, thereafter too, and succeeded in preventing the explosive bursts of aggression that Warrington has become synonymous for.

The first couple rounds saw neither corner enforce their authority with the jab of Galahad being countered by brash right hands thrown with the full tilt and twist of Warrington’s body. The ominous hushed tones of those in attendance was a testament to the nip and tuck nature of the opening rounds; Sheffield’s mandatory challenger was able to slow the pace of the contest when fighting from the southpaw stance and you began to wonder why he didn’t fight southpaw for more prolonged periods of time.

Momentum meandered as the contest unfolded as both men picked up rounds by ‘doing more’ whilst never doing enough to consistently come out on top. Warrington, having looked imperious against Lee Selby and Josh Warrington, attempted to rough up Galahad and found success but simply wasn’t able to sustain an attack in the fashion that we’ve seen before. Chopping right hands kept his challenger alert but Galahad was wise to clinch and dampen the enthusiasm of Warrington.

The sixth round saw, perhaps, the first glisten of Warrington’s sharp combinations as he shuffled Galahad onto the ropes with swinging shots to the body – a reminder of the champion’s key threat but nothing more. It seemed, mind, as though Warrington was working his way into the evenly-poised contest and looking to open up a gap in the scorecards in the later rounds. In isolation the better work was coming from the challenger, certainly in dictating the tempo of the fight, but Warrington wasn’t being bullied and was more than playing his part in a nip-and-tuck encounter.

A repetitive rhythm unfolded throughout the rounds with Galahad neutralising Warrington with his stance-switching and a well-worked jab but he stopped at that. He didn’t look to push the momentum one step forward and look to force his opponent onto the backfoot – Warrington was always there or thereabouts – and that’s a dangerous ploy against a champion in his backyard. Warrington adapted but not brilliantly and it was noticeable that he didn’t object to the holding of his challenger because, actually, it allowed him to work on the inside.

Sean O’Hagan, Warrington’s father, was in no uncertain terms that his son needed to finish the fight in style and make sure he took the ‘championship rounds’; Warrington responded with fast hands, in moments, when he was able to penetrate the guard of his challenger but Galahad was slick throughout and didn’t seem fazed by the increased aggression coming his way. An odd fight, for sure, and underwhelming, too, because neither fighter was able to cement a foothold. Galahad found most of his success from the southpaw stance so it boggled the brain that he kept on reverting to orthodox whilst Warrington showed fractional moments of aggression but looked one-dimensional in doing so. In a fight where Galahad refused to rally and run with the momentum you’d always favour Warrington getting the decision.

116-112, 113-115, 116-113 to the reigning champion, Josh Warrington, but the plans for unification are probably put on ice – take another fight, champ, and prove you’ve learned from this one.

Earlier in the night JJ Metcalf produced a classy display to claim the vacant Commonwealth super welterweight title; he knocked out, former British champion, Jason Welborn in the eighth round of their contest. Having entered this contest struggling for momentum, spending time on the sidelines due to injury, the nature of the victory was a reminder of the natural ability from the Merseyside man.

Welborn, with his tattooed torso, looked to make the sharper start with a popping left jab that lurched towards its target like a honey badger. Behind the tattoos was a weakness, however, with Welborn noticeably fragile when caught to the body; he was stopped from such a shot by Jarrett Hurd in December of last year. Metcalf clearly had that on his mind and looked to exploit that weakness from the opening phases with firm shots softening the target from round one.

Metcalf held the tempo beautifully and looked very good against his toughest opponent to date, light on his feet and remaining patient whilst controlling the contest. Welborn found success of his own, though, in the sixth and seventh round as he returned fire and began to give Metcalf something to think about. Think he did by producing the good in the eighth round with a sterling knockout, shortly after a low-blow forced Welborn and saw Metcalf have a point docked, a peach of a left hand caught Welborn flush at the liver and there was no coming back from that. A comfortable victory for Metcalf who showcased his knockout power to perfection – time to step it up and continue these sterner tests.

Lyon Woodstock and Zelfa Barrett both brushed aside their egos to get involved in an evenly matched domestic dust-up with the winner to be crowned super-featherweight Commonwealth champion. It was Barrett who did the better work throughout the 12 rounds to claim the title but the contest itself was an intriguing one. Before fight there had been speculation as to the quality of Barrett’s weight cut with him looking gaunt on the scales but his constant fainting drew the initial jabs from Woodstock.

Both men had suffered their first defeat in 2018 – Barrett against Ronnie Clark and Woodstock against Archie Sharp – but were eager to get involved in such a tantalising contest. Barrett, nephew of Pat, boxed from range – as he done to great effect in previous contests – and Woodstock was happy to mirror the style of his counterpart. Fighting from the outside suited Barrett, the English champion, and he was first to the punch on a number of occasions with a blindingly fast right hand.

WIth the contest ebbing towards Barrett it was surprising that Woodstock persevered in boxing at range and didn’t try his luck on the inside; the ease with which Barrett was able to control the contest was surprising but a testament to the talent he beholds. Woodstock kept on plodding forward and looking to exploit any weakness in his opponent and he didn’t do anything wrong, if we’re honest, he was just beaten a better fighter. Exchanges were plentiful and entertaining but the right hand of Barrett was the difference and his timing was exceptional to counter the work coming his way with a peerless overhand right. Superb from Zelfa Barrett and you wonder just what problems he might pose a certain Sam Bowen.

A trio of fights to tickle the taste buds but you come back to the main event and find yourself asking if either man did enough. It’s a conundrum and ultimately Galahad was the better man but didn’t do enough to win comfortably yet Warrington didn’t do enough to lose, either.

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Josh Warrington vs. Kid Galahad Fight Preview


By: Oliver McManus

Josh Warrington embarks on the second defense of his IBF featherweight title this Saturday when he faces Kid Galahad in a contest pitting Leeds’ home hero against the prickly-natured Sheffield-based mandatory challenger. Neither are shy of the spotlight and Warrington has been in full song surrounding his technical superiority whilst Galahad and, trainer, Dominic Ingle are sanguine that they have spotted weaknesses.

An aggressively ran marketing campaign from BT Sport is aimed at positioning Warrington as an eternal underdog; ‘written off 28 times’, when in reality questions have merely been raised as to the ceiling of Warrington’s ability, is the strapline spearheading BT’s adverts. A bloodied war with, kingpin at the time, Lee Selby saw Warrington wrestle the IBF belt away from Wales whilst he outgunned Carl Frampton in an assured display of aggression last December – ‘underdog’ is a severe injustice for the defending champion.

Kid Galahad, who was suspended between 2014 and 2016 after testing positive for stanozolol, remains unmoved by the ruthless performances of his adversary as he insists he’s “better than Frampton in every department”. The 29 year old will be looking for a far more composed gameplan that of Frampton, who was rocked in each of the first two rounds, as he gains a foothold in the contest from early doors. Three contests in 2018 showed a maturity from Galahad that has, arguably, been missing from previous performances with a measured tempo that allowed him to pick off rounds with relative ease.

Against Irving Berry (his first contest of 2018) he was able to strike up a fairly relaxed rhythm from the off and climbed through the gears in nonchalant fashion. An innocuous left hook caught Berry flush on the chin having narrowly missed moments earlier and the contest was over, just like that. In his other contests, against Toka Kahn Clary and Brayan Mairena, there was a tendency to favor a looping right hook to the body whilst remaining sharp with his upper body movement.

The defending champion, a 2/7 favorite in actuality, has cultivated a reputation as a puncher over recent fights: in thanks to his gritty, come-forward adventures against Selby and Warrington. Marginally younger, aged 28, energy has always been a huge plus for Warrington and he has frequently shown he’s the fresher fighter when championship rounds beckon; against Selby and Frampton he was effective in efficiently conserving energy by fighting in bursts of full-throttle commitment and stepping off the gas intuitively.

Such audaciously mature performances against two established featherweight figures, rightly, set the division on notice as to the little warrior from Leeds: a fighter whose ability was once questioned has rounded out his ability over the next couple years and now fights on resoundingly more than just “heart”. Make no mistake, however, that raw passion for fighting and success marks him out from Galahad – a fighter whose desire has been questioned in the build-up – and instantly gives Warrington the immediate ‘invincible’ mental edge.

Given the success he has found since inking a deal with Frank Warren, in 2017, you simply can find no logical ground for betting against the reigning IBF champion because, as we know, he always saves his best for when he’s written off.

The undercard sees a double scoop of domestic dust-ups as Zelfa Barrett and Lyon Woodstock clash for the vacant Commonwealth super featherweight title and JJ Metcalf and Jason Welborn compete for the vacant Commonwealth super welterweight belt. Both Barrett and Woodstock are no stranger to ‘getting involved’ with fellow rising prospects – both suffered their first loss last year: against Ronnie Clark and Archie Sharp, respectively- and display a refreshing eagerness to waste no time in getting back in at the deep end.

A rough and tumble contest against Clark, in which Barrett was dropped in the sixth, resulted in a marginal loss (via majority decision) for ‘Brown Flash’ with the fight proving a tough learning ground the nephew of Pat – himself a former European champion. An immediate rematch with Clark was touted but circumstance convened to frustrate the 25 year old and he has been limited to just two stay-busy bouts in the intervening sixteen months. Since turning professional in 2014 he has advanced to a record of 21-1 with notable victories over Chris Conwell (a fourth round knockout) and a one round destruction of Jordan Ellison. Certainly a power puncher with a penchant for ballistically hammering away with body shots, the only way Barrett really knows how to fight is with fire.

His counterpart for this contest is himself no stranger to a scrap with his contest against Sharp (in October) a contender for domestic fight of the year but, largely, is far more laid back when in the ring. Philosophically-oriented outside of the ring with a love for relaxing by watching documentaries, you can see this bleed into his fighting style with an almost spiritual aura encompassing him. The 25 year old has proven to be a strong counter puncher and that should serve as a bold contrast to the rugged aggression of Barrett but, he too, has the desire to go against the stereotypical grain of a professional boxer. The ‘0’ has never mattered for Woodstock and it’s always been about fighting the best to be the best.

Much like rollercoasters you probably shouldn’t watch this fight if you’re of a nervous disposition because this is going to loosen a bowel or two.

JJ Metcalf, the original opponent for Liam Williams on December 22nd, finds himself back in a big fight having brushed off the niggle with an eight round knockout over Santos Medrano back in April. The Merseyside fighter is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to momentum with just two fights in the last 20 months but when he has boxed he’s looked mighty impressive. Five knockouts on the trot against guys who rarely get stopped, a mixture of journeymen and continental contenders, are a testament to the sheer size of Metcalf: a relatively big super welterweight, in terms of physique, he is able to hold his punches superbly.
The same, however, can be said for Welborn who will likely come into the ring the bigger man having campaigned at middleweight for much of 2018 so you can almost guarantee this will be a case of ‘swinging and slugging’. The 33 year old’s last fight came on the undercard of Wilder-Fury with a world title challenge against Jarrett Hurd and Welborn was caught unawares by a huge body shots in the fourth round. Against Metcalf he’ll be facing an opponent of a far more level calibre and, indeed, Welborn will be confident that, having nullified Tommy Langford on two occasions, he’s a level above his unbeaten opponent.

A trio of fights that go without the hype and hyperbole of pay-per-view yet are bound to deliver far more bang for your buck than ‘main event’ from Las Vegas just hours afterwards. The perennial underdog for once finds himself a favourite but he can’t afford to slip up against an untested challenger and the undercard, well, that’s anyone’s guess.

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Josh Warrington-Kid Galahad Title Fight Heading To Jan. 24 Purse Bid


By Jake Donovan

Barely three business days after being ordered to negotiate, the ordered featherweight title fight between Josh Warrington and Kid Galahad is already heading to a purse bid.

The two sides were given thirty (30) days from January 7 to negotiate terms for the International Boxing Federation (IBF)-sanctioned featherweight title fight. However, Galahad—the mandatory challenger—and his team have already decided to cease talks and instead cut to the chase.


Photo Credit: Josh Warrington Twitter Account

“he IBF has ordered a purse bid for the mandatory defense of the Featherweight title between Champion Josh Warrington and #1 ranked contender Kid Galahad,” IBF spokesperson Jeanette Salazar informed in a release. “Warrington was ordered to negotiate with Galahad on January 7, 2019.

“On January 12, the IBF received a written certification from Eddie Hearn on behalf of Kid Galahad and Matchroom Boxing indicating that they were no longer willing to participate in negotiations and requested an immediate purse bid pursuant to IBF Rule 10A.”

The purse bid hearing is scheduled for January 24 at 12:00pm, to take place at the IBF headquarters in Springfield, New Jersey.

Any hopes of civil negotiations seemed dead on arrival, given the contentious history between the two promoters involved.

Warrington is with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, while Galahad (birth name Abdul Barry Awad) fights under Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing banner. Warren and Hearn rarely do business together, but are willing to do so when the opportunity makes sense.

Warrington (28-0, 6KOs) signed with Warren in 2017, shortly after parting ways with Hearn with whom he worked with for the prior three years. Warren has network deals with BT Sport in the United Kingdom as well as ESPN’s streaming platform—ESPN+—in the United States, while Hearn has for years worked with Sky Sports and the primary content provider for sports streaming service DAZN.

Both boxers were last seen fighting on the desired platforms of their respective promoters.

Warrington made the first defense of his featherweight title with a rousing 12-round win over former two-division champ Carl Frampton last December in Manchester, England. The bout aired live on BT Sport Pay-Per-View in the UK and on ESPN+ in the U.S.

The victory capped a breakout year for Warrington. The unbeaten 28-year old claimed the title in a May ’18 points win over Lee Selby in his Leeds hometown. Following his thriller with Frampton, it was hoped that Warrington would be steered towards unification clashes with Oscar Valdez (who returns February 2 on ESPN) or Premier Boxing Champions’ pair of titlists Leo Santa Cruz and Gary Russell Jr.

Instead, he was ordered to next defend versus his mandatory challenger, given his bout was Frampton was deemed his lone-allowed voluntary defense.

Galahad (26-0, 15KOs) earned his way to a title shot following a 12-round win over Toka Khan-Clary in their title eliminator this past October. The bout took place in Boston, marking Galahad’s stateside debut along with his first appearance on DAZN.

While both sides come armed with lucrative network deals, there’s no guarantee that either lands the promotional rights to the fight. Because the mandatory title fight is now subject to a purse hearing, all IBF-registered promoters are free to bid on the contest. The winning bidder will also have to submit on the spot a 10% deposit of the total purse amount along with proposed dates and locations in order to be accepted.

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Josh Warrington vs. Kid Galahad Featherweight Title Fight Ordered By IBF


By: Jake Donovan

Any hopes for Josh Warrington to land in a featherweight title unification bout will have to wait at least one fight longer.

Barely two weeks removed from his thrilling points win over former two-division champ Carl Frampton, the unbeaten Brit has been issued his marching orders for his next title defense. It won’t be a unification bout with the likes of Oscar Valdez, Leo Santa Cruz or Gary Russell Jr., rather a clash with mandatory challenger Kid Galahad.

Word came down on Monday from the International Boxing Federation (IBF), whose featherweight title Warrington claimed in a 12-round win over Lee Selby last May.

“(Josh) Warrington has been ordered to next face (Kid) Galahad,” IBF spokesperson Jeanette Salazar confirmed to BoxingInsider.com.

The two sides will have 30 days to negotiate terms for such a bout, or else will be subjected to a February 6 purse bid hearing. At any time during such talks, either side can request an immediate purse bid in the event it’s clear that there isn’t any chance of reaching a deal.

There are several layers to peel back regarding such talks. Warrington is with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, while Galahad (birth name Abdul Barry Awad) fights under Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing banner.

Warrington (28-0, 6KOs) signed with Warren in 2017, shortly after parting ways with Hearn with whom he worked with for the prior three years. Warren has network deals with BT Sport in the United Kingdom as well as ESPN’s streaming platform—ESPN+—in the United States, while Hearn has for years worked with Sky Sports and the primary content provider for sports streaming service DAZN.

Both boxers were last seen fighting on the desired platforms of their respective promoters.

Warrington’s instant classic with Frampton topped a December 22 bill which streamed live on ESPN+ for stateside viewers, while playing to Pay-Per-View in the U.K. Warrington prevailed via unanimous decision in the first defense of the title he snatched from Selby, capping a breakout year for the Leeds boxer.

Galahad (26-0, 15KOs) earned his way to a title shot following a 12-round win over Toka Khan-Clary in their title eliminator this past October. The bout took place in Boston, marking Galahad’s stateside debut along with his first appearance on DAZN.

The unbeaten 28-year old has since resurfaced in a stay-busy bout, scoring an eight-round shutout of Brayan Malrena in his adopted hometown of Sheffield on December 8. The bout came in supporting capacity to Sheffield’s favorite son, former welterweight titlist Kell Brook whom outpointed Michael Zerefa atop the Sky Sports-aired/DAZN-streamed telecast.

While there have been past instances where a defending titlist can bypass a mandatory defense in favor of an approved unification bout, such a scenario will not apply to this contest. Warrington was already mandated to face Galahad by the time he stepped into the ring to face Frampton in a voluntary defense.

The aforementioned bout came with the blessing of the IBF on the condition that he would next defend versus Galahad. Neither boxer can take a fight in the interim.

Assuming neither party backs out, the contest will likely take place in early spring. Where it lands will, of course, depend entirely upon which side secures promotional rights.

As both sides come in armed with lucrative deals from platforms eager to secure as much content as possible, nothing short of a bidding war is expected.

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