Tuning up the Band: Leeds’ Warrior

By Ted Spoon on April 11, 2015
Tuning up the Band: Leeds’ Warrior
Promotional chess will ensure Josh is never thrown to the wolves. (Lawrence Lustig)

This kind of rowdy atmosphere may not be to every boxing fan’s taste though a fight crowd is not the setting for political debate…

We’ve just had our first few days of spring here in blustery England. Ever grateful of clear skies a moment isn’t wasted in soaking up what is sure to be erratic sunlight. In the flick of a switch we go from cursing the clouds to grabbing disposable BBQs, de-shirting and rocking shades. Brits relish the sun because it’s a rarity. They also love showing their support, be it in booming unison at stadiums or unintelligibly chanting at 5:00 am. Though passionate, fans know it may be a while before Leeds United rival the big clubs. This means there’s even more reason to cheer on their hope in the squared circle.

Accompanied by ex-Leeds United footballer Vinnie Jones, famed for going for the player rather than the ball, featherweight Josh Warrington (21-0, 4 KOs) thumped out a unanimous twelve-round decision over a game Dennis Tubieron (19-4-2, 8 KOs). The Philippine did not come to flop and highlighted deficiencies along the way. 

As has become customary the support for Warrington could be heard several fights before and exploded when the time came. Beer cups went skywards. Then they hit the unsuspecting on the head. One even managed to make it into the ring, splashing its contents on the canvas which had to be wiped up by security. This kind of rowdy atmosphere may not be to every boxing fan’s taste though a fight crowd is not the setting for political debate. The rules here are simple. Loudest = best.

With a tight guard and focus written on his face Josh engaged his southpaw opponent. They got right to business and Tubieron left the round with a red patch on his left cheek. It wasn’t as smooth as remembered. The foreigner used his wider stance to create space and counter. Some landed. The second and third rounds were two other instances of Josh doing more and generally better work though Tubieron landing with solid shots, presenting Warrington with a type of style that his workmanlike one is not familiar with. The right cheek of the heavy favorite inherited a bruise.

In the fourth Josh stuck closer to his man which brought him more success. Going to war appears more his natural style. As it was with Ricky Hatton he gets more torque on body shots. Hooks and the odd uppercut pinned his opponent to the ropes which got the crowd roaring. A sharp right in the following round got a reaction and Josh spent the rest of it hammering away in an attempt to get that tantalizing fifth KO. The curtain was almost shut. Tubieron moved slowly to the aid of his corner, behind which were two supporters proudly bearing their national flag. Perhaps sight of it lifted his game. 

The end certainly felt near but the Philippine kept it long again and won a share of the round. He would often sink into the ropes, absorb Warrington’s best efforts and then fire the right hook or straight left. A bit more head movement would have been nice from the Leeds man.

The second half of the fight reiterated things we discovered in the first. Josh much had the better of it when he closed the gap as it favors his posture and shot selection. At long range he second-guessed himself and pecked away instead of dictating. There were a couple of odd instances including a beach ball that not only found its way into the arena but into the ring which forced referee Victor Loughlin to halt the action. Also, apparently one of the rounds went on longer than three minutes. The last round saw Warrington try in earnest to get a stoppage which nothing but his modest punch was foiling. There were moments however when Josh was able to grill him with pressure.

Whatever the Philippine was paid he earned plus a pat on the back. Winning the vacant and wholly insignificant international WBC title, Josh made quite a meal out of an opponent he was heavily favored to beat, though he did win virtually every round, so we can’t be too harsh in our critique. I’d like to think Josh can learn from this fight, mainly because he needs to.

The victor said something on the mic which the crowd made impossible to hear. Outside the ring stood potential rival, slick Lee Selby, and he looked much the larger man standing in his suit, in plain sight of Josh’s legions. Cue the British classic, “Who are ya?!”

On May 30 the Welshman is headed for Evgeny Gradovich’s IBF featherweight title. Presuming the odds-on scenario unfolds that sets up a British showdown between Selby and Josh, probably for 2016 at Elland Road football ground. Aside from further lining Eddie Hearn’s pockets it would solve an all-important question about levels.

Looking up from this level, the featherweight landscape is mountainous.

Gary Russell Jr., Abner Mares, Jhonny Gonzalez and Simpiwe Vetyeka are all dangerous and unlikely. Forget the top two. They need to tango. One may look at Gradovich and (accurately) conclude that the gulf between owning a world championship and being number 1 has never been greater. It’s no secret that boxing is about timing, about routes. The art of promotional chess will ensure Josh is never thrown to the wolves but hopefully he is matched constructively so we may go onto discover, as we have over the past two years, that there are layers to this Yorkshire lad.

And criticism may provide just the boost he needs.

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  1. The Tache 05:37am, 04/12/2015

    Vinny Jones, whose acting ability is about equal to his footballing skills, wonder how he got involved?
    I thought it was a decent enough scrap to watch but can’t help but think that Warrington lacks the power to trouble the big beasts in his division, although he seems to have the football/boxing fan appeal that Ricky Hatton used to enjoy.

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