Boxing: Warrington continues his march towards world title

Cool customer Josh Warrington. PIC: James Hardisty
Cool customer Josh Warrington. PIC: James Hardisty
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Leeds boxer Josh Warrington’s march towards a world title shot gained even more momentum on Saturday night, thanks to a highly-impressive fourth-round stoppage win over Italian Davide Dieli in their European title clash at the First Direct Arena.

Warrington, spurred on by almost 2,000 of his fans, walked to the ring with a deafening rendition of Leeds United chant “Marching On Together” which was followed by the words of Leeds band Kaiser Chiefs’ song “I Predict A Riot,” and the boisterous atmosphere carried on throughout the fight.

Warrington simply set about his shell-shocked opponent from the off, showing the crowd and the Sky Sports viewers his full repertoire of boxing skills – in what could well be a career-best display to date.

His constant pressure finally paid dividends in the fourth round when Dieli hit the canvas after a stinging combination.

Despite looking shaky, Dieli beat the referee’s count, but the Leeds boxer wasn’t to be denied. Roared on by the crowd, Warrington’s relentless work-rate took its toll moments later and the referee stopped the fight with the Italian fighter seemingly moments away from being knocked out, much to the delight of the Leeds faithful.

The popular 23-year-old featherweight has had an impressive 12 months which have seen him clean up the British, Commonwealth and European titles in his last three fights. Warrington is no longer the best kept secret in British boxing. He is improving with every fight and his promoter Eddie Hearn has promised more exciting nights in Leeds in the near future.

“Wow, what an atmosphere,” said Hearn. “I’ve never experienced anything like that.

“Josh is going to be back in Leeds headlining shows for a long time to come. Let’s remember that he’s only 23 years of age and he’s Commonwealth, British and European champion. Let’s give him a little rest and we’ll get him back out in Leeds at the start of 2015.”

Hearn added: “This lad has the potential to be the next Ricky Hatton and I can’t wait to enjoy the ride. I also promote Welshman Lee Selby who operates at the same weight. He has a world title eliminator against Australian Joel Brunker next week in London. If both Josh and Lee keep winning, we’ll be able to pack out Elland Road next year for a domestic world title fight.”

The victory was Warrington’s 19th straight win as a professional, and it was also his third stoppage win out of his last four fights, which suggests he now has the power to go with his undoubted talent. And his father and trainer, Sean O’Hagan, says there is still a lot more to come: “He’s only 23 and he’s not at his punching peak yet. He’s still got bags of time. He’s improving with every fight and there’s still a lot to come. He’s had some fantastic world-class sparring for this fight and it has paid dividends.”

Josh trained full-time for the fight and he went on to thank his employers for giving him the time off to focus on his training.

“My bosses (at Beever Dental) have been fantastic,” said Warrington. “They’ve allowed me to take six weeks off work to train for this and it’s shown in my performance.

“I’d also like to thank everybody who bought a ticket too. The crowd were unbelievable and I can’t wait to come back here and put on another show for them.”

On the undercard, Leeds’ Reece Cartwright notched up his fourth professional win in a row with a comfortable points decision over Hungary’s Istvan Kiss.

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