Filmmakers gear up for Leeds boxer Josh Warrington’s big fight at Elland Road

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The visceral power of movies such as Raging Bull and When We Were Kings has set the bar high for anyone making a film about the noble art of boxing.

But a new documentary telling the story of Leeds fighter Josh Warrington looks sure to have enough heart and soul to prove a worthy addition to the genre.

Josh Warrington in the home dressing room at Elland Road.

Josh Warrington in the home dressing room at Elland Road.

And, on the eve of Josh’s IBF world featherweight title showdown at Elland Road tomorrow, the producer of Fighting For A City has spoken exclusively to the Yorkshire Evening Post about a project he believes will do the boxer, his famously devoted fanbase and Leeds itself proud.

Nick Ryle, from Leeds-based Moneyglass Films, told the YEP: “It’s obviously a documentary about boxing but it’s more than that, it’s also about the bond between Josh and his fans and the relationship between a father and a son.

“Leeds is a character in the film as well. It’s a city of two halves – you have the affluent side, then you go out to east Leeds and it’s a pretty tough environment.

“That’s where Josh grew up and it’s where a lot of his fans come from.

“It means we are portraying a city, which is why I think Fighting For A City is such an apt title.

“Boxing is our canvas, if you like, but there is so much more going on around Josh we can make a film that appeals to more than just a purely sporting audience.”

Nick added: “Working with Josh has been quite extraordinary. I have done a lot of documentaries in my time and we have never had access like we have with him.

“From the moment he and Sean [(O’Hagen, Josh’s dad and trainer] decided to do the film, they just totally committed to it.

“Josh has been incredibly honest and that means we can create a rich portrait that audiences will be engaged with. They are really going to get to know him.”

Looking ahead to tomorrow’s fight, Nick said: “It is clearly going to be a huge night for us and so we are investing heavily in covering everything.

“We will be with Josh pretty much from the moment he wakes up to the moment he goes to sleep.

“We will also follow [his wife] Natasha and spend a lot of time filming the fans and showing the support he has.

“During the fight, we will have a camera in the corner so we are very close to the action and another on a long lens.

“There will probably be another one in the crowd with the fans.”

Asked what defeat for Josh tomorrow night would mean for the film, Nick said: “On a personal level, all of us really, really want him to win.

“We like him, he’s an absolutely top guy, and that would obviously be our ideal outcome.

“But in terms of drama and emotion and telling a story, if he loses then it will still be powerful, it will still be interesting.

“If he was to lose, and I don’t think he will, but if he was to lose then it’s how he loses and how he feels after the fight. We will be filming him afterwards whatever happens.”

Backed by Screen Yorkshire and filmed over a period of two years, Fighting For A City is due to see the light of day in early 2019.

Nick and his team – which includes directors Jacob Proud and Greg Hardes – are hoping it will secure a screening at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in the US, with a major premiere event in Leeds also being planned ahead of a cinema release.

The filmmakers are asking people heading to Elland Road tomorrow to post mobile phone footage on social media using the #FightingForACity hashtag.

The person supplying the best clip will win tickets to next year’s Leeds premiere – and their footage could be used in the film.

Fans are also being asked to get behind the #FightingForACity social media campaign on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter while work continues on the documentary over the coming months.

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