Leeds born featherweight Josh Warrington will be looking to reclaim his IBF world title this Saturday, the same belt that he previously vacated at the start of 2021. In his way, the veteran Spaniard and a two-weight world champion Kiko Martinez. After an eighth round TKO loss followed by a technical draw with the tough Mexican Mauricio Lara, Warrington will be looking for his first win in three fights to continue his otherwise unblemished record (30-1-1, 7 KOs).
With the 31-year-olds last victory coming almost two and a half years ago, we will be looking at Warrington’s last five wins.
Round 10 TKO Vs Dennis Ceylan – October 2017
After 25 wins from 25 fights, Warrington was just one victory away from achieving his dream of becoming a world champion. In October 2017, the then 26-year-old Brit earnt himself an IBF-world-title eliminator with the unbeaten Dennis Ceylan. The Danish fighter was already known to British fans for defeating and drawing to Warrington’s domestic rivals Ryan Walsh and Isaac Lowe respectively. When it came to fight night, ‘The Leeds Warrior’ outworked and out landed Ceylan for most of the fight putting him comfortably ahead of his opponent on all three of the judges’ scorecards going into round ten. However, it was the tenth round that saw the downfall of Ceylan, who was the EBU European featherweight at the time. A big three punch combination from Warrington had the challenger hit the canvas, with the referee stopping the fight after the second time Ceylan went down. A sixth career win inside the distance for Josh Warrington had set up a tantalizing world title fight against Lee Selby.
Split Decision Vs Lee Selby (116-112, 115-113, 113-115) – May 2018
Warrington’s moment had finally come as he received his first opportunity at a world title in May 2018. Not only this, but he had the chance to do it in front of his home fans at Elland Road, Leeds. The Welshman Lee Selby was making his sixth defence of the IBF belt that he had picked up against Evengy Gradovich in 2015. In what was a fight of the year candidate, Warrington and Selby brawled for 12 continuous rounds. By the end of the bout, both fighters’ white shorts were stained with the blood of the former champion, who suffered cuts by both eyes due to accidental head clashes. The cuts were so severe that the fight was threatened to be stopped in the sixth round as the doctor had a closer look, however the war was allowed to continue. ‘The Leeds Warrior’ started and ended the fight strongly, with Selby having most of his success in the middle rounds, particularly rounds three and eight. Despite Warrington winning via split decision, the general consensus from fight fans had him winning at a wider margin than the judges. But either way, Warrington was the new IBF featherweight champion of the world.
Unanimous decision Vs Carl Frampton (116-112, 116-112, 116-112) – December 2018
After winning the belt against a Welshman, the Brit’s first defence was against the Northern Irishman Carl Frampton. This fight on paper looked as, if not more, difficult than his previous bout against Selby, with Frampton having already held world titles at super-bantamweight and featherweight. The challenger had also already had wins over world-class operators such as Scott Quigg, Leo Santa Cruz and Nonito Donaire. This alongside the fact that this was the champions first time fighting outside of Leeds in eight bouts made Warrington the underdog with the bookies again. Despite being known for his work rate and skill rather than his power, Warrington still managed to rock Frampton twice in the opening two rounds of the contest. The former two-time world champion fought his way back into it in the middle rounds however the final four rounds were all won by Warrington convincingly to take the UD win. This win really cemented the Leeds man as a true champion defying the odds once again to overcome his more experienced opponent.
Split decision Vs Kid Galahad (116-113,116-112, 113-115) – June 2019
For the third time in a row Warrington found himself in a huge domestic world title fight, but this time it was a Yorkshire derby with Sheffield’s Kid Galahad. Both fighters were unbeaten heading into the bout, but Galahad possessed the power Warrington had lacked, with the Steel City gym fighter having beaten seven of his last ten opponents inside the distance before meeting with ‘The Leeds Warrior’. Galahad, originally born in Qatar, wasn’t dubbed as much as a threat as the likes of Selby and Frampton were, however the switch-hitting from southpaw to orthodox seemed to give Warrington problems he hadn’t come up against career as far. The challenger fought fantastically on his back foot, with great accuracy throwing single shots, this was favoured by many of the fans at home who believed Galahad to be the victor. Yet two of the judges took preference to the come forward aggression of Warrington in which the Leeds home crowd had become accustomed too. After beating a Welshman, an Irishman, and an Englishman in his last three fights, Warrington proved he was by far the best featherweight in the United Kingdom and potentially the best in the world.
Round 2 TKO Vs Sofiane Takoucht – October 2019
Warrington’s final bout before the pandemic saw him run through Sofiane Takoucht, a little-known Frenchman who had previously only fought out of his native country twice. Warrington was defending his IBF strap for the third time, with this defence being significantly shorter than the others. The champion knocked Takoucht down twice already before the referee jumped in towards the end of the second round. Not only was this Warrington’s quickest stoppage of his career so far, but he also became the first person to stop the French southpaw in 40 fights. This was also ‘The Leeds Warriors’ last fight under Frank Warren’s Queensbury promotions, as he signed back up with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom as he looked for a unification clash against WBA ‘regular’ champion Can Xu, which unfortunately never came.