How British title win helped spur Leeds boxer Josh Warrington to the very top

SIX years ago to the day, Josh Warrington had just achieved everything that he had initially set out to do when he turned professional.

By Ben McKenna
Thursday, 21st May 2020, 6:00 am
FEELING CHAMPION: Josh Warrington is declared the victor in his British title bout against Martin Lindsay. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
FEELING CHAMPION: Josh Warrington is declared the victor in his British title bout against Martin Lindsay. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

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After a fervid 12 rounds, every judge scored the fight 119-110 in favour of Warrington, who also retained his Commonwealth title with the victory.

The Leeds Warrior has gone on to claim the IBF world featherweight title and fight nine more times at the Leeds Arena, and once at Elland Road, but revealed winning the British title was the target at the top of his agenda when he first stepped up to the pro’ ranks.

ARMS RAISED: Josh Warrington with his Commonwealth and British titles. Picture: Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Prior to his clash with Lindsay, Warrington admits his family were confident he would claim victory but he knew he had a challenge on his hands with his opponent losing just two of his 23 bouts prior to the contest.

“Everyone around me was overconfident apart from me because I knew what kind of challenge I was facing,” Warrington said.

“I knew that Martin Lindsay was one of the biggest punchers about. I had watched videos of him knocking people like Derry Matthews out and I knew he was a solid puncher.

“He wasn’t a complete one-punch knockout artist but he was strong enough to hurt you and let you know about it. So I was quite nervous.

ACTION: From Josh Warrington's victory over Martin Lindsay. Picture: Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

"Not only the fact I had to fight him but it was for the British title which was my initial goal when I turned pro’. I was the first local lad to headline the Leeds Arena so there was loads of pressure on my shoulders.”

Warrington was keen to savour the atmosphere when he arrived at the Arena but stayed in his dressing room to prepare mentally for the contest.

“I remember getting down there, it was all a new experience with it being my first fight at the Arena,” he continued.

“I just wanted to go out of my changing rooms and go out in the stands and see what it would look like to see a boxing fight in the stands. But I didn’t. I stayed in my dressing room.”

Despite winning the bout convincingly, Warrington admits it was no walk in the park.

Lindsay was known for this punching power and Warrington revealed how his urine sample after the contest was dark due to the amount of blood in it.

“That night, I had a hard fight against Martin (Lindsay). He was just solid and a tough, tough man. It was like punching a brick wall anytime I hit him,” Warrington said.

“When he did land on me, on my arms, my gloves or my face, it hurt. He was just a solid, solid guy. He made me work for those 12 rounds.

“When I won the British title I just remember being in the changing rooms happy as larry. My pee sample was dark, full of blood, because of the body shots he had hurt me with.

"I remember getting home that night and watching on social media and seeing people share how good their experience was.

“For me, sat there in the early hours of the morning with the British title over my lap, I was thinking, ‘Wow, I’ve done it’.

“It wasn’t until the next day that I thought, ‘I am not finished here’. Winning the British title was what I set out to do and I have given myself 10 years to do it. It has gone on to be much greater than we first planned out.”

Warrington has come a long way since he first turned pro’. The Leeds Warrior now headlines shows wherever he goes but that was not always the case.

In his second televised fight, his fourth bout in overall, he was asked to be a TV float as Dewsbury’s Gary Sykes defended his British super featherweight title.

A floater is asked to be ready to fight at any point to fill TV time before the main event.

However, Warrington never got on TV and his bout went ahead after the main event had finished.

“I was on Gary Sykes’ undercard and that night I was expecting to have a TV slot but then found out I was a floater,” he said.

“It was a long night because I got gloved up at 6.30pm and I didn’t fight until after Gary Sykes.

"We didn’t do the ringwalk until about 11.15pm and, by that time, the main event had been on, everyone had left apart from my 40-odd fans who stayed behind to watch.

"They had been very patient and probably a little bit tipsy as well. And I had a tough old fight against a fella called John Riley who was making his pro’ debut.”

Warrington hopes his 31st pro’ bout will be different as he aims to fill Headingley Stadium and unify the featherweight division.

Although, given that large gatherings may be banned for the foreseeable future, he may become a unified champion in front of his smallest crowd yet.