Anthony Joshua’s defeat is a timely warning for Josh Warrington as he faces Kid Galahad

Ready for battle: Josh Warrington, left, and Kid Galahad, right, with promoter Frank Warren. Picture: Simon HulmeReady for battle: Josh Warrington, left, and Kid Galahad, right, with promoter Frank Warren. Picture: Simon Hulme
Ready for battle: Josh Warrington, left, and Kid Galahad, right, with promoter Frank Warren. Picture: Simon Hulme
Leeds has long held belief in Josh Warrington but 2018 took him to the level where Leeds now expects. Kid Galahad might not stand out as his most dangerous opponent to date but complacency could make it his most dangerous fight.

Last weekend’s upset in New York, where Anthony Joshua went down under the weight of punches from a boxer who was barely given a prayer, is as much warning as Warrington needs to be on his game at the First Direct Arena this Saturday.

Galahad was a bout he wanted to bypass but it is a bout he has to win, to re-open the door to the contest which will take him Stateside and potentially crown his career.

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The featherweight says this has been his most concentrated and focused training camp to date; none of the distractions which came with the birth of his twins in the build-up to him beating Lee Selby or the documentary which preceded his war with Carl Frampton.

Galahad lacks the same profile as either of those boxers but Warrington said he would approach Saturday in the same way if he was “fighting Mr Tumble”, the star of CBeebies which fatherhood introduced Warrington to.

“In terms of the fight, I’ve got my world title and I’m not giving it to anybody,” Warrington said. “The hunger’s still there and I’ve trained like I always train, giving 100 per cent every time I walk into the gym, and doing the same kind of mental preparation.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re fighting Mr Tumble.

“You’ve got to prepare for the person in the opposite corner. I’m fully focused and I’m in a very good place mentally and physically.”

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Sheffield’s Galahad, real name Barry Awad, was the mandatory contender for Warrington’s IBF belt and Frank Warren, Warrington’s promoter, took that fight after failing to talk Mexico’s Leo Santa Cruz into the ring.

Santa Cruz is rated as the world’s number one nine-stoner by Ring Magazine, with Warrington a place behind him.

There are other unification fights out there, against Oscar Valdez and Gary Russell Jr, but WBA holder Santa Cruz is Warrington’s fight of choice.

“It would be Santa Cruz, 100 per cent,” Warrington said. “I know the road will lead to a unification fight and I’m ranked number two in the Ring Magazine rankings. Leo Santa Cruz is ranked number one so I’d love nothing more than to fight him.

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“People say I didn’t want to fight Barry but it’s only because I want to keep progressing myself and fight the very best. Santa Cruz is top of the tree and to beat him you really would be considered one of the best.”

The weeks preceding Joshua’s defeat to Andy Ruiz were dominated by talk of when and how Joshua would bring about heavyweight clashes with Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. Instead, a seventh-round stoppage deprived him of his belts and left him looking for a rematch with Ruiz, an opponent he was expected to dispatch without problem.

Galahad has never fought at world level before and is shaping up for his first shot in Leeds. Selby is among the fighters who have sparred with him in preparation and some in the game are giving Galahad more than half a chance, despite the odds lying heavily in Warrington’s favour.

“Boxing’s like a council estate – everyone knows everyone’s business,” Galahad said. “They know if you’re not living the life or if you are living the life.

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“If you’ve been sparring and you’re not any good, it gets around but in the boxing game I believe I’ve got a good reputation and people who know boxing believe I’m going to go in there and absolutely do a job on him.”

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