Josh Warrington’s not worried by underdog tag for Lee Selby showdown

Josh Warrington.
Josh Warrington.
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UNBEATEN Leeds boxing ace Josh Warrington is confident of defying the unfamiliar tag of underdog in May’s IBF world featherweight title bout against Welsh foe Lee Selby at Elland Road.

Warrington will take a perfect record of 26 victories from 26 fights into his eagerly-awaited showdown against the IBF featherweight world champion at Elland Road on Saturday, May 19.

Selby, though, has already defended his belt four times and has declared his own confidence in making a successful fifth defence of his title, insisting he is capable of boxing Warrington’s “head off” at the home of Leeds United on the third Saturday in May.

Selby is regarded as a hot favourite for the bout with the 30-year-old Welshman long odds on and as short as 1-6 favourite to defeat Warrington and land the 27th victory of his career.

But Warrington feels Selby is now facing his toughest test yet and the 27-year-old Leeds fighter’s confidence is brimming as he aims to become the city’s first ever world boxing champion on the same day as the FA Cup final and the Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

“On May 19 we know a few things,” said Warrington.

“There’s going to be a Royal Wedding, there’s going to be an FA Cup final and Leeds is going to have its first world champion.

“I have been the underdog before and it doesn’t faze me one bit.

“They say the bookies don’t get it wrong but they do, many, many times, especially with boxing.

“Normally I am the odds on favourite when it comes to fights, especially in Leeds Arena.

“But Lee is not the big be-all and end-all superstar that he thinks he is and everyone talks about he is.

“His last four or five fights, the defence of his titles, everyone of them has been shaky and he isn’t making that fifth defence.”

Warrington and Selby will go face to face three months before their mouthwatering showdown at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon with the duo set to verbally spa on the pitch at the half-time interval of tomorrow’s Championship clash between Leeds United and Cardiff City at Elland Road.

Both boxers already had strong words to say at Wednesday afternoon’s initial pre-fight press conference with Selby insisting the bout would be a mismatch.

“I’ve had a few good performances but my best is still yet to come,” said the Welshman.

“There hasn’t been a night yet where I feel I have performed at my best. I have some days in the gym where I am sparring and I am just untouchable.

“If I can bring that to fight night on May 19 it will be a mismatch. We’ve seen me get pressurised by many fighters and I just outbox them and outclass them.

“If he comes steaming out with all of his fans roaring behind him then it just comes into my hands.

“I’ll box his head off.

“I will probably break him down round by round and then stop him late on.”

Warrington, though, is certain that the perception of him being a big underdog for the fight will prove wide of the mark.

Informed that he was around 4-1 to win the fight, Warrington said: “It’s a chance for the boys to make a few quid. This is my destiny. Two years ago Lee said that I’d never get another opportunity to fight for a world title but I’m here, I won my eliminator. You can’t mess with destiny.”

Promoter Frank Warren added: “This is a fight that we have been working very hard to put together for a while. Josh signed with me a while ago and he’s one of the best fighters I have had the pleasure of working with. We have a great world champion here in Lee Selby, he’s showed a lot of balls accepting this fight here in Josh’s backyard and in front of his fanatical Leeds supporter.

“We have got all of the ingredients for a fantastic fight on May 19 here at the home of Leeds United.

“Josh had to go through an eliminator to get himself into the number one spot, he has forced the issue.

“The featherweight division is one of the most exciting weight classes at the moment, not only in the UK but the World. Over in Belfast, Carl Frampton has a tough fight against former four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire. The winner on May 19 may well find themselves taking him on next.”

Information on how to obtain tickets will be available shortly.