Boxing: Warrington masterclass puts world title in his sights

Josh Warrington getting the upper hand over Joel Brunker. PIC: Tony Johnson
Josh Warrington getting the upper hand over Joel Brunker. PIC: Tony Johnson
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Leeds boxer Josh Warrington produced a masterclass to record a unanimous points victory over Australian Joel Brunker at the First Direct Arena on Saturday night.

Warrington retained his Commonwealth and WBC international featherweight titles, while edging closer to a world title fight against Welshman Lee Selby next Spring.

Promoter Eddie Hearn has hinted at bringing the world title fight to Leeds United’s Elland Road after witnessing another top-class display from the unbeaten 24-year-old.

Warrington dominated from start to finish, leaving Brunker sporting two nasty cuts to either side of his head, as he recorded a shut-out 120-108 points victory on all three judges cards.

Warrington twice went close to forcing a stoppage, in the ninth and 11th rounds, but although a brave Brunker deserved to hear the final bell, there was no taking away the dominance of the Leeds star.

Brunker’s only previous defeat came at the hands of reigning world champion Selby last October, but although Warrington faced the toughest test of his career, he came through with flying colours.

It was another raucous night at the Arena as around 10,000 fans packed in to roar the ‘Leeds Warrior’ to another famous victory.

Warrington’s hand speed and workrate proved too much for Brunker as the Leeds star extended his record to 22 straight wins. Speaking after the fight Warrington said: “For the first time in a long time I listened to my dad and the corner team and I made things a lot easier for myself.

“I’d built Brunker up to be this big monster who threw loads of punches and who was so strong, but my training camp has been the best yet and I knew if I could keep my head and stick to what I know I can do, I’d pull off a good performance and that is what we did.

“I’m over the moon with the performance. You can look like a world-class boxer in sparring but it is what you do in the ring that counts. I did well (on Saturday) but I think there is still a lot more that I can bring and I’m always learning and always improving. The main thing was getting the win and doing it in style. I’ve got to give the fans value for money by doing these 12 rounders!

“I’ve now done 12 rounds against a world-class operator. I think we have proved a lot of people wrong with this win and whoever is put in front of me, I’m always stepping up to the plate. I believe and my team believe that we can go on and win a world title. The crowd are all screaming for the big world title fight at Elland Road and that is the road we are on now and my supporters will be marching on to that with me.”

Matchroom Sport supremo Hearn also believes Warrington is on course for a world title shot, adding: “Joel Brunker is a world-level featherweight so there are no more steps he can take.

“Josh has stepped up at every level and although he is not one to blow his own trumpet, you have got to say that was the test and he has won every round.

“You are not just talking about a ticket-seller, a nice kid, you are now talking about a world-class fighter.

“The Selby fight is big for the UK and is only going to get bigger and bigger and I just know it will sell out Elland Road.

“A fight at Elland Road for a world title with a kid from Leeds – wow, the hairs are up on the back of my neck.”

Hearn was also full of praise for another magnificent Leeds crowd, adding: “The fans get a bit of stick on social media for their singing and dancing but these people work hard all week and come to enjoy a night out.

“We have had some great nights in this country with Froch, Kell Brook and Joshua but there are very few who have fanatical supporters and the Leeds crowd is second to none.

“There’s nothing like it in any city we go to and Josh is a great ambassador for the city of Leeds.”