Hundreds turn out in Leeds to hail hometown boxing champ Josh

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Boxing champ Josh Warrington got a knockout reception as he warmed up for his big fight this weekend by holding an open training session in his home city of Leeds.

Josh was put through his paces today in the slightly unlikely surroundings of the Trinity Leeds shopping centre ahead of his clash with Australia’s Joel Brunker at the city’s First Direct Arena on Saturday.

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And, in a sign of his huge popularity with the Leeds sporting public, more than 200 people turned out for the event despite the damp and dismal weather.

Fans who made the journey down to Trinity Leeds included 46-year-old Simon Lonsdale and his seven-year-old son Jack, from Churwell.

Josh is an ambassador for Jack’s junior football club, LS27 FC, and the youngster freely admits the boxer is his “hero”.

Dad Simon told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “He does a massive amount of good work in Leeds and I think that counts for a lot.

“He’s friendly and approachable – he always remembers Jack’s name. He’s also a good example to the lads at the club of what you can achieve if you set your mind to something and really work at it.”

Also in the crowd was 35-year-old Lisa Tosney and her 11-year-old daughter Georgia, from Cottingley.

Lisa said: “I’m not a fan of boxing but she is so it’s good to be able to bring her along to something like this.

“She’s been filming it all, so that will be going on Facebook later!”

Josh, whose workout was accompanied by music tracks including I Predict a Riot by Leeds band Kaiser Chiefs, will be defending his WBC International and Commonwealth featherweight titles in Saturday’s meeting with Brunker.

The Aussie also took part in the Trinity Leeds training session, although he had made his exit by the time the man they call the Leeds Warrior arrived.

Josh knows from previous fights at the First Direct Arena that the atmosphere this Saturday will definitely be something to savour.

The hometown hero said: “It’s a special feeling standing on that ramp getting ready to walk to the ring.

“Even in the weeks beforehand there’s a massive buzz around the city with everyone getting excited about the fight and getting ready for the atmosphere – that’s got its own reputation now with people coming from all over to sample it, and it’s just getting bigger and bigger now.

“With that type of support behind me I can go on and win a world title, I know that. I want to deliver for them.”

Another fighter in the ring at the shopping centre today was Morecambe’s Isaac Lowe.

He will face Devon’s Jamie Speight for the vacant English featherweight title as part of Saturday’s quality-packed undercard.

For information about tickets for the near sell-out event, visit the www.firstdirectarena.com website or ring 0844 248 1585.

Dion Dalton.

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