JOSH WARRINGTON believes his world title opponent Lee Selby will crumble in a white-hot atmosphere at Elland Road with the fighter describing the city’s partisan fans as “a different breed”.
Warrington and Selby came face to face at the home of Leeds United on Wednesday afternoon for the first press conference ahead of the duo’s eagerly awaited IBF world featherweight title clash on Saturday, May 19.
On the same day as the FA Cup final and the royal wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, Elland Road will witness its first open-air boxing show since 1992.
Warrington, meanwhile, who remains undefeated, will be looking to break new ground altogether in a bid to become his city’s first-ever boxing world champion. Backed by what is guaranteed to be a passionate and partisan home support, the Leeds fighter is convinced he is destined to take Selby’s IBF world featherweight title with the Yorkshireman warning his Welsh opponent that the atmosphere on May 19 will be nothing like he has ever faced before.
Well over 100 people crammed into Wednesday’s press conference where Selby was greeted with an early Leeds welcome ahead of the eagerly awaited showdown on the third Saturday in May. Warrington said: “Lee’s team did not want the press conference open to the public and that just goes to show something. Everything is going to be hostile including the build-up, the weigh in, the public work-outs and the fight itself so what does that tell you – not a confident fighter.
“I’d happily go down to Cardiff and stand in front of all of his fans – it doesn’t bother me. But when he is walking out of the tunnel, everyone will be leaning over screaming and shouting baying for blood.
“Every time I land a punch and the crowd goes up, I don’t know how he is going to react to that. He thinks he knows how he is going to react because he has done it many times before but he has never stepped his foot in a place like this before.
“Leeds is different and I have always said it. There’s no place and there’s not a crowd like Leeds – we are a different breed.”
Selby will be making the fifth defence of the title he has held since 2015 and the Welshman insists that the Elland Road atmosphere and Warrington’s support would be immaterial to the fight itself.
“It doesn’t phase me at all,” said Selby. “If you are banking on me falling about before the first bell goes you have got another thing coming. I’ll cope fine. I have been the away fighter many times before and one of my first TV appearances was on one of Frank Warren’s shows when I was a big underdog and I knocked out the hot favourite Stephen Smith. I went to Belfast with a hostile crowd – throwing things at me, booing, jeering, but I put on a great display of boxing.”
Warrington, though, firmly believes he will become a world champion at the home of the football team he passionately supports.
He added: “This is the one that we have been talking about for years. I have been walking about in the streets of Leeds and folk have been saying ‘let’s get the big one at Elland Road’.
“This is an event that is going to capture the whole city and Leeds fans all around the world so tell your mates, tell everyone and let’s make it hostile.
“Let’s make it something special so you can turn around and you can say in years to come ‘I was there on May 19 when Leeds saw its first world champion’.
“Let’s have it.”