The bad blood which lingered between Josh Warrington and Lee Selby, and lingered on the floor of the ring they shared, ran so deep that Selby refused to speak with Warrington in his dressing room afterwards.
As the saying goes, the only place they will bury the hatchet is in each other’s backs.
Warrington, though, found respect for Selby in the fact that the Welshman was a proven world champion, that he went toe-to-toe on the night of their brawl and that, frankly, the enmity between them was real.
This time he sees a “bad-man persona” in Kid Galahad and a “playground bully” with none of the right to shout the odds in the way that Selby did.
“It’s all false,” Warrington said.
Warrington and Selby had history and plenty of it.
He’s got the playground bully mentality. When he’s got his team around him he’s brave and he doesn’t mind saying things but I know it’s all a persona because I used to know him a few years ago.Josh Warrington
Until fairly recently, Warrington thought of Galahad as a likeable character who was cordial with him when the pair attended a Boxing Writers Club dinner in 2014. Both fighters were shortlisted for the young-fighter-of-the-year award and Galahad won it. Not long after, the Sheffield man was banned for a positive drug test.
It niggles Warrington that Galahad never apologised and that the Yemeni, in his eyes, has developed an attitude since then. In the lead up to their fight in Leeds on Saturday, Warrington has seen his hunger questioned by Galahad and his trainer, Dominic Ingle and doubts raised about whether Selby or Carl Frampton – the established faces of the UK featherweight division who Warrington destroyed in 2018 – were anywhere near their peak.
Ingle claimed yesterday that Selby and Frampton were no sharper than “80 per cent”.
The result is that Warrington finds himself driven in the same way that he was against Selby; motivated in part by a dislike of his opponent.
“It was all genuine against Selby because Selby meant everything,” Warrington said. “I kind of respected him after that because he stood by his word. But Barry, he just says a lot of ridiculous stuff.
“Half of the time I think he thinks of things to say prior and lets it all roll out. I spent a full day with him a few weeks ago down at Talksport and he was a different fella.
“He’s got the playground bully mentality. When he’s got his team around him he’s brave and he doesn’t mind saying things but I know it’s all a persona because I used to know him a few years ago.
“Now, all of a sudden, he’s got this bad-man persona and it’s all false. The thing is, it’s not going to help him. He might think he’ll get under my skin but on the night, when we’ve done the introductions, everyone gets out and it’s just me, him and the referee, it’s a different kettle of fish.”
Ingle, whose late father Brendan founded the feted Wincobank gym in Sheffield where Galahad trains, has had more to say to Warrington than the boxer he is preparing. There were verbal clashes at a press conference at Leeds City Museum yesterday as Ingle goaded Warrington about his previous wins and Galahad claimed he had a “bigger heart”.
A voice in the crowd replied to Galahad, who is fighting for a world title for the first time, by telling him he was “a dreamer”.
Warrington’s win over Selby last May was chosen as IBF fight of the year. The Frampton victory, which fell into the 2019 category despite being staged just before Christmas, is likely to receive the same accolade.
“They know that,” Warrington said. “They know they were credible wins.
“They’re playing themselves down and it’ll make them look ridiculous after I’ve chinned him at the weekend. You’re not even up to their level and they were at 80 per cent! I believe I’ll stop him.
“It’s little tactics to get under my skin but I feel it’s disrespectful. The Ingles in Sheffield have always had a respectable name but Dom’s tarnishing it with the way he’s going about business.
“He’s trying to take the heat off Barry but he’s making himself look a right clown. If you ever thought I was going to overlook (Galahad), Dom’s changed that.”
The mentions of Warrington’s hunger, the suggestions that a year as world champion and the lifestyle that comes with it might have chipped away at his drive, seem to misread the position he is in. Warrington has held the IBF belt for only 13 months and is not yet out of his 20s. As many as three unification fights are there to be made in the USA if he puts away Galahad, his mandatory challenger.
Boxing has been good for him, replacing - as his dad and trainer Sean O’Hagan said on Wednesday - an ‘01 registration Fiesta with a BMW and allowing his wife to leave a job serving school dinners. But his day-to-day existence is largely unchanged: training camps in Batley, season tickets at Leeds United and duties as the father of twin girls.
Warrington admitted that “half the time, the belt just stays under my bed.”
Galahad and Ingle like the idea that the challenger, a fighter of Middle Eastern descent who came to Sheffield by way of Toxteth in Liverpool, has more fire in his stomach and more desire than Warrington.
“It’s unbelievable,” Warrington said. “But it’s all coming from his side. No-one else is questioning it.
“People who follow me, they know how hard I train and how dedicated I am. I’ve always said this is a short career, especially as a featherweight and in your peak years.
“I could have given my belt up (to avoid a mandatory fight with Galahad) but I want to go into a world title fight as a champion.
“I’m not giving my belt up for nobody. He’s my mandatory, I’m dealing with him and if I wasn’t serious or if I wanted a quick get-out, I’d have gone into a big world title fight and given my belt up.
“I’m not about that.
“I want to get the job done and get it done in style, to put the gobs****s out of their misery.
“The less airtime he has on Saturday, the better.”