Way of the Warrior: Warrington Beats Amagasa

By Ted Spoon on April 17, 2016
Way of the Warrior: Warrington Beats Amagasa
Josh Warrington outpointed Tokyo’s Hisashi Amagasa. (Matt West/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock)

This limited fighter continues to grow, assuredly not into multi-weight world championship proportions, but where exactly?

With the prospect of Anthony Joshua bumping into Tyson Fury later this year Britain’s boxing scene (already punching above its population) may be on the cusp of topping that “one off” rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves. For the nation’s other champions it will encourage them to work harder, to soak up that growing spotlight. Our hopefuls will fight harder still and that is exactly what The Leeds Warrior had to do tonight. 

In his first real challenge Josh Warrington (23-0, 4 KOs) outpointed Tokyo’s Hisashi Amagasa (35-6-1, 20 KOs) by scores of 117-111, 118-111 and 120-107 to successfully defend his WBC International featherweight title. The latter score, aside from not telling the story of the fight, was plain wrong. Twelve one-sided rounds they weren’t.

Creeping out of his corner in the hometown colors of blue and gold Josh started things with a jab against his 5’10” opponent. He warms up quickly and tonight was no different, pinning Amagasa to the ropes with sharp combinations. When things drifted back to ring center Hisashi displayed a pushy jab, more of a suggestion, but a burst of clubbing punches caught the top of Warrington’s head and reddened it. Those long arms were clearly going to be troublesome.

A more controlled second round followed. Catching blows on his high guard and moving well Josh waited for the right moments to land lead hooks and rights to the body. Using his strength to bull the foreigner to the ropes was clearly a sound tactic as his long frame had nowhere to hide. Still he took all the punches without a problem as we thought he would considering his toughness and Warrington’s, let’s be kind and say, so-so power.

The lack of a jab, the dismal footwork, chin in the air — Amagasa’s technical flaws were for all to see but therein also lay the threat, for it is often those who have no time for the textbook that do things orthodox fighters have not read up on. The third was another Josh round with his pressure boxing but a stray right uppercut made him wince. You could hear the thud while the overhead lights detailed a sore left arm that the underdog had been wailing on.

Josh’s much smoother feet helped him get in the right positions to land his jab, tonight with an upward trajectory. Eating everything that came his way with a shrug Amagasa looked dangerous and continued with his awkward march. Warrington found himself out of position at times. He had to eat a few shots himself but luckily they served to wake him up. A leaping left made its mark in the fifth, further aggravating some bruising by Amagasa’s right eye.

The sixth started and something clicked in the underdog’s repertoire. Those pushy punches started to connect. Instead of classic one-twos it was clubbing fives and sixes — formally crude efforts now hurtful combinations. Warrington’s face was increasingly reddened and you could see he looked stressed between that well-drilled guard where the left is slightly higher than the right. He sometimes uses the arm as a shield and he had to once Hisashi saw for himself that there was definitely a way into this fight, a chance to invert the roaring atmosphere into a chorus of sighs. Blood came from Josh’s mouth. He was in a scrap.

You could say he took a round off in the seventh but his lanky opponent only grew in confidence. To me it seemed that Josh was trying to figure out where the next jigsaw piece was hiding. Reminded us again that there are layers to his game he took his foot off the gas but made his shots count, driving in the jab and sneaking in hooks. Two rounds of this and you sensed he had ridden the storm. Leeds First Direct Arena was watching a fighter mature, at least those who weren’t at the point of swinging their shirts above their head. Clean punches were mocked as Amagasa defiantly raised those long arms but his technical flaws were back to plaguing him. The momentum was shifting again.

Round ten and Warrington’s right hand did more than make the sweat spray as the Japanese fighter bent to one side. Josh had a wounded fighter in front of him and drove him to the ropes, trying hard to satisfy his boozy legions but always keeping it controlled which was equally appreciated by the sober spectators who can be heard clapping at lateral movement. Hisashi gave Josh another gut check in the eleventh, starting fast but the Leeds man came right back with those snappy punches that were having their accumulative effect. A cut was now visible above Amagasa’s right eye, possibly a head clash. Tape had to be cut from Warrington’s glove. There was genuine smile between the two combatants at the end of the round and at the beginning of the last one.

The remaining three minutes were good ones. You could see Warrington’s face tense up as his willingly traded with a guy who punched harder, sometimes firing back, other times slipping away to prepare counters and it was that ability to switch tactics on the fly which turned a potential pitfall into a solid performance. Despite that silly last scorecard Josh was the rightful winner.

I was part of a trickling applause that saluted Hisashi as he left the ring. It will soon be time for that long flight back home, a little sore, a little better off, but more importantly after further solidifying his reputation as a warrior. A roar at the final bell recalled the one he did on the scales. He breaths this sport. 

And as for the victor, what has been repeatedly mentioned may now be months away. IBF champion Lee Selby is sure he can deal with Josh. Whether or not the Yorkshire man “put on a performance” as Lee had stipulated is up to the champ’s taste. Perhaps it is more telling to go back a few years to that kid with zero knockouts who would do well to win the British title. This limited fighter continues to grow, assuredly not into multi-weight world championship proportions, but where exactly?

This perceived “gap” in levels could prove Selby’s mistake when they meet at Elland Road.

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Josh Warrington vs Hisashi Amagasa Full Fight 2016-04-16

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