Leeds: The Featherweight with Heavyweight Fans

By Ted Spoon on October 5, 2014
Leeds: The Featherweight with Heavyweight Fans
The Leeds featherweight is now English, British, Commonwealth, and European champion.

Fanatical followings always present that danger of unhinging technique, of making you go all out when the other chap isn’t even stung…

As a non-smoker navigating the city streets can be tricky. Not only must you try to slip past those insistent on dawdling, react to those who put the brakes on, one must keep an eye out for meandering clouds. Hopkins knows that I’m talking about. It’s a good opportunity to work on your sidestep; or bob if you don’t mind funny looks. Zigzagging my way towards Leeds’ First Direct Arena hints at the main attraction, and why thousands of pissed locals are doing the same.

Electric Warrington Scores Third KO

Surrounded by another wonderfully noisy crowd, Josh Warrington (19-0, 3 KOs) scored a fourth round TKO over Italy’s Davide Dieli (15-4, 5 KOs). The 23-year-old English, British, Commonwealth, and now European champion who recently joked “I know I hit like a girl” may be developing a dig.

Fanatical followings always present that danger of unhinging technique, of making you go all out when the other chap isn’t even stung. Fortunately, Warrington does not have this problem. You could say the support has the effect of a shield. Not a foot was put wrong. 

There is this highly watchable aspect about Josh – that everything serves a purpose. As soon as the bell goes he is in high gear, in range and putting together combination that fighter’s usually build towards. Some of them, like a right cross directly off an uppercut, shows there to be some invention behind the basics. 

The smaller Davide was bossed in the first and second.

Two of the subtle but attractive elements in Warrington’s game are the back-step and forearm parry. Aware that only inches are required to make a punch miss, Josh occasionally slides back to give his bursts clear outlines. Davide flicked out a searching jab which was met with a marginally extended forearm, helping Josh know where the Italian was while masking the opposite.

Outgunned but not there to kneel, you could say the foreigner was the ideal opponent to help Warrington shine, but the Leeds Warrior brilliantly filled his end of the bargain. A stagger in round three was a prelude to the fourth when a crisp hook dropped Davide hard. Blood was smelt and Josh made it KO number three in his last four bouts.

The cheer at the referee’s intervention was something to take in. The Leeds’ Ricky Hatton? Very possibly.

Whether Josh has that extra something to make it at world level is what everyone wants to know, but we should get our answers when pitted against the other hotshot in the domestic scene, Lee Selby. When being the key word. 

Ryan Rightfully Wins Majority Decision

In a fight that was a little messy, a little difficult to score but hard fought, Dave Ryan (16-8, 3 KOs) handled the pace better to beat Tyrone Nurse (29-2, 5 KOs) via majority decision with scores of 113-113, 114-113 and 114-113 for the Commonwealth light-welterweight title.

It was a poor start by the rangy Tyrone as a quick jab made him touch down. Not hurt but it was 10-8. In the second the same punch repeated the trick. This time he was put horizontal; I recalled Freitas-Barrios and got thinking weight trouble. He dusted himself and managed to cause some bruising under Ryan’s left eye.

When allowing himself the space Tyrone looked good. Particularly, a counter uppercut jolted Ryan’s neck, spraying globules of bloody sweat, but the reactions didn’t always compliment this loose style. Single shots continued to connect with a swelling face.   

Super-bantamweight Kid Galahad who sat left of me insisted that “Tyrone is fighting the wrong fight.”

In the fourth Ryan appeared to be conscious of a leaking nose and Tyrone got him at the end of his punches. The chin held up though, and then the physical strength began to tell. A string of close, weary rounds went by. In the ninth it didn’t look good for the younger man. Tyrone teetered on disaster but somehow kept moving in his exhausted state to escape the knockout. It was possibly another 10-8 round.

For a moment I stopped scribbling as Michael Katsidis was making his exit. Thanking the Aussie for so many great fights was a must. I wished him well against Tommy Coyle and refocused.

Four more close rounds played out to reach the end. Perhaps Tyrone wanted to prove something as he pressed against a man better equipped for a brawl. Still, that does not change the fact he is a talent who needs to respect the fundamentals. Back to the gym.

The winner, now Commonwealth light-welterweight champion, deserves to enjoy whatever limelight may fall on the rest of a tough career.

Scotland’s Nice Guy Plods On

Under the microscope of increasingly sceptical (and fewer) eyes, Ricky Burns (37-4-1, 11 KOs) pounded out a muddy eight-round decision over game Frenchman Alexandre Lepelley (17-2-1, 3 KOs) at light-welterweight. 

In truth, having lost three bouts on the trot, Ricky Burns’ career looks to have manifested all popular criticism. With a lack of offensive imagination and very little upper body movement, Burns has relied on toughness more than any other Brit – Carl Froch included. There’s never been a huge punch or fearsome work rate. Losing the title, a probability, became reality at the capable hands of Terence Crawford.

Adjustments were made in camp. Sadly, these ones do not seem to have manifested.

Things started well with Lepelley on the floor. Like many of tonight’s victims he wasn’t here to nap, but Ricky’s lack of polish allowed for a way in. Though smaller, and just about second best, Leppelley often left his mark with clean singles and flurries to the midriff. A point taken away in round seven for a head clash sealed the decision, but though winning, though the final score would read 79-71, with every completed round, shipped and missed punch, Burns’ career steepened its descent.

Where to turn at this bleak crossroads is a question only Ricky can answer, but the loss of accolades and fame has emphasized an unheralded side of greatness – the same reason why Bob Fitzsimmons once described the boxer as “lovable” – a sportsmanship which rivals his courage.

As the show wound down, or rather as Saturday night got going, it was impossible to hear Ed Robinson’s in-ring interview with Josh Warrington. A constant slagging off of Manchester United and Yorkshire fist-pumping went for its 127th encore as drinks were treated like shot puts.

Whilst yapping to another bloke I saw that curtains hid the rest of a sizable arena. Pulling them back for more spectators will increase the chance of Eddie Hearn’s blazer getting soaked in beer again.

It will also enable him to purchase several cupboards worth more.

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