At Leeds, England (Showtime Facebook and YouTube):
Lee Selby vs. Josh Warrington, 12 rounds, for Selby’s IBF featherweight title
Darren Tetley vs. Mason Cartwright, 12 rounds, welterweights
Nicola Adams vs. TBA, 10 rounds, female junior bantamweights
The ex-pro and head honcho at the thriving St Joseph’s gym in Newport insists defending IBF champ Lee Selby is several rungs above Josh Warrington in terms of talent, ahead of Saturday’s salivating Featherweight world title fight at Leeds United’s Elland Road, shown live on BT Sport and BoxNation.
“When Lee’s dad brought him to me, to look after him as a pro 10 years ago, he was already possibly the best technical boxer at the gym. But he was a long way from the fittest.
Lee came from an area where kids hung around doing nothing, drinking lager. He told me he didn’t do circuits! He just wanted to punch the bag, spar his brother Andrew then go home. No hard graft.
Among my small squad, Lee came sixth or seventh in the ground work drills but he dug in deep and within nine months had pulled himself to the front of the pack. Now he can’t wait to get to the gym. He loves his training. It’s a fact that he’s not drunk alcohol since he had a bottle of lager to celebrate defending his Commonwealth title against an African in Newport six years ago. Now he celebrates his title wins eating cheesecake!
Believe me, Lee is anything but cocky. He’s pretty serious, very laid-back. However, in the changing room for an hour before he fights, he becomes very ‘edgy’, a bag of nerves, constantly repeating himself, doubting himself. Then when the call comes to fight, when the lights go on and the music starts, he completely changes. Suddenly, he’s in the ‘zone’, buzzing with confidence, a true gladiator. He just looks cocky!
And he’s going to thrive on walking out at Elland Road to all the hostility. He can’t wait. He loves attention. He always trains hard but if a stranger walks into our gym he instantly ups his game to impress.
I remember taking him to Belfast to defend his British and Commonwealth titles against Martin Lindsay. Martin was from the Falls Road and his fans were proper tough, hard guys; very intimidating at the press conference and weigh-in, and during Lee’s ring walk. But when Lee ducked between the ropes, he just winked at me and with this huge grin he says: ‘This is wicked!’ The Belfast boys booed him into the ring, whistled at him throughout the fight but gave him a big ovation afterwards.
Whereas I view Lee as an elite world class fighter, Josh Warrington is just a very good British level kid. I see Josh’s strengths – his fitness and determination – proving his downfall against Selby. He’ll keep coming. For the first four or five rounds, Lee will use his height and reach, capitalise on his excellent jab and start to mark Warrington up. He’ll then aim at those targets. By the time Warrington gets close, when we allow him to get close, he’ll be very sorry he got there!
Lee has fought these super-fit, strong men types many times before and seen them all off. Stephen Smith fell in eight, Corey McConnell wilted in round five, Evgeny Gradovich round eight, Joel Brunker stopped in nine…All viewed Selby as a tall, skinny boxer-type but he can be a spiteful, nasty b*stard. Latterly, he’s not needed to engage in hard wars because he wants a long career so he can unify all the titles. But if Josh Warrington’s team think he can’t dig deep and hasn’t got gears, they’ll be painfully mistaken.
If the fight ‘kicks off’ from the start, it’ll be to Lee’s advantage, not Josh’s. Selby’s very sharp and very accurate. Warrington’s dad works his corner and he’ll not want to watch his son take a hiding.
Lee wins because he’s super strong and extremely naturally gifted. He’s got the speed, accuracy and movement to sting Warrington twice then move round the corner while Warrington flaps at fresh air. We’ll make him miss, make him pay…..painfully!”
General admission tickets for Selby v Warrington are available from just £40 per person.
Tickets are available to purchase online via the club’s official website www.leedsunited.com and via the Leeds United Ticket Office on 0371 334 1992
Lee Selby will make the fifth defence of his IBF World Featherweight Championship against Mandatory Challenger Josh Warrington at the home of Leeds United, Elland Road on Saturday 19th May, live and exclusive on BT Sport and BoxNation.
The Barry stylist and Warrington have been embroiled in a long-running rivalry, with Selby accusing the Yorkshireman of ‘bottling’ an opportunity to face him in 2016. But now the bitter foes will settle their feud once and for all in the first ever World Title fight to be held in Leeds.
Leeds hero Warrington (26-0, 6 KO’s) brought the blockbuster all-British showdown closer to reality by stopping previously unbeaten Dane Dennis Ceylan in a Final Eliminator clash at the First Direct Arena back in October.
Welshman Selby (26-1, 9 KO’s) claimed the IBF Featherweight crown against Russia’s Evgeny Gradovich in 2015 and will be defending his belt on away soil for the fifth time when he steps into the lion’s den on May 19th.
Both men know there is potentially a greater prize on offer than the belt itself, with victory in May likely to provide a passport towards a summertime showdown with former two-weight World Champion and Frank Warren stablemate Carl Frampton MBE.
“On May 19th I’ll achieve my dream of becoming a World Champion at the home of my beloved Leeds United,” said Warrington. “The city of Leeds is craving a World Champion and I’m going to give them what they want.
“With the support of an entire city behind me I’m going to create history. I’m going to give absolutely everything to get my hands on that World Title. I’m grabbing this opportunity with both hands!”
“Fighting away from home in his backyard doesn’t bother me in the slightest,” said Selby. “This is a huge fight and it makes sense to take it to a football stadium. There will be tens of thousands of his fans backing him on May 19th but it’s only me and him in the ring.
“Let’s see what Josh is really made of. He’s done everything that has been asked of him and he’s earned his shot at my World Title. Josh is standing in the way of my opportunity at joining the boxing elite. I’m going to thrive off the hostile atmosphere.”
Promoter Frank Warren said: “I’m delighted that we can finally announce Elland Road as the venue for Lee Selby vs. Josh Warrington. I’d like to thank the Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani for making this all possible.
“May 19th is going to be a huge event for the city of Leeds and I know that they will turn out in their thousands to back one of their own. This fight has been in the making for years and Elland Road is a fitting venue for it.
“This is a fight that has all the ingredients of a classic. It’s the one that we’ve all been waiting for and on May 19th the pair of them will have the opportunity to settle their feud once and for all.”
Angus Kinnear, Leeds United Managing Director, added: “We are delighted to host Josh Warrington’s World Title fight. Josh is very much a part of the Leeds United family and we are proud to be able to help him fulfil his ambition to fight at Elland Road. We are also very pleased to add the fight to the growing number of high profile sporting events happening at our iconic home in 2018.”
Information on how to purchase tickets for the night of boxing under the Elland Road floodlights will be released shortly.