Josh Warrington – Growing loyal fanbase on this memorable journey has made me very proud

It was incredible to walk out in front of thousands of people in June ahead of my victory over Kid Galahad.

Sunday, 22nd September 2019, 6:49 am
Josh Warrington lands a blow on rival Kid Galahad during their First Direct Leeds Arena clash in June. Picture: Steve Riding.

I have been a professional for 10 years and I remember for some shows, I was - literally - only taking a car full of fans to come and support me.

I have not always boxed in Leeds and have fought in the likes of Manchester, Sunderland and in venues all over the country.

I was taking tens of supporters to all these places across England and it just started to grow and grow, to the point where I will be able to headline two shows in my home city in the space of four months. We have world championship boxing on our doorstep and it doesn’t come around often.

Josh Warrington celebrates his win against Kid Galahad in June. Picture: Dave Thompson/PA

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When I was starting out, I would walk around the city and meet people in pubs, meet people at Leeds United matches and Leeds Rhinos games and just tell them to follow my journey and see how far we can go. I have got a number of fans who have been there since the early days, before I had even won a title.

They used to follow me to the leisure centres and they have been part of the journey from there to the arenas and to Elland Road.

The numbers have grown and grown and we are taking on new fans all the time.

I am very, very proud as it doesn’t happen to many people who put on the gloves and I just try to give my all, not just for myself, but for those who pay their hard-earned money to support me.

Josh Warrington and Carl Frampton clash during their IBF Featherweight World title fight at Manchester Arena in December last year.

Fighting in the arenas makes a special crowd, it makes an atmosphere and those nights are very special.

For people that come to the fights, they make their own memories.

When I look back on the Lee Selby fight at Elland Road, that is an event that will stay with people for a good few years. We had the perfect weather, the Kaiser Chiefs were there, even Lucas Radabe was there.

And then you look to later on in the year, three days before Christmas at the Manchester Arena for the fight against Carl Frampton.

There were 20,000-plus people there, you had half from Northern Ireland and half from Leeds.

That made it a spectacle and then the fight itself was special.

We are creating memories and they are things that people will talk about for years to come. And that is what I want - to help put Leeds on the map.

As part of this week’s column, I want to say congratulations to fellow Leeds boxer Jack Bateson on getting his win against Khvicha Gigolashvili a couple of weeks ago.

He is on the undercard on October 12 where he will be fighting for the English Super Bantamweight title against Michael Ramabeletsa.

I remember fighting for the English title seven to eight years ago and I boxed in The Venue in Dudley in front of a crowd of around 1,000 people.

Now Jack is going to get a chance to showcase his skills in a big way.

For fans wanting to come to the show don’t miss out.There are some big fights on the undercard, and I encourage anyone reading this to be part of the other fighters’ journey, not just mine.

When you look down the card, fighters are getting a chance to showcase their skills on a massive stage.

And I don’t want to blow too much smoke up my backside but that is because of me. If I wasn’t there, then this show wouldn’t be happening.

Jack sustained a few minor injuries in his win over Gigolashvili a couple of weeks ago but the opportunities in boxing don’t come round too often.

If Jack doesn’t fight on the undercard, he might have missed an opportunity there.

Fighters need to strike while the iron is hot, he is only young and you don’t go forever in this game and you want to climb the ladder as quickly as possible.

He might have a hand injury but he will feel he will have enough to beat Michael Ramabeletsa on the night. So get there early enough to cheer him on next month.

l Tickets for the fight are available from the First Direct Arena. Call, 0844 248 1585 or visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk and firstdirectarena.com. Prices: £40, £50, £75, £100, £150, £200, £350 – Inner Ring Hospitality.