By Dan Davies (@DanDavies98)
The WBC International featherweight champion, Josh Warrington is due to face the talented Patrick Hyland on July 30th and we were fortunate enough to catch up with the Leeds Warrior at the press conference to ask him the questions on everyone’s lips.In his last fight he fought a very tough Amagasa in the Leeds First Direct Arena but the scores did not reflect the closeness of the fight. Josh said “I had it 7 rounds to me, 4 rounds to him and a share of one round. I think I went to sleep in the middle round but I was still a bit disappointed with the wide scores (118-111, 117-111 and 120-108) because obviously people start looking in to it and call them biased but I have nothing to do with the judging, I can only go in there and fight. I was disappointed with my own performance afterward but it was a very good learning fight and when I have looked back on it and went back to the gym I realized that I had learnt a few lessons that night so we move on to the next one.”
In his next fight, which has the potential to be a cracker, Warrington will face Patrick Hyland who is a good operator who is just coming off a world title defeat to Gary Russel Jr over in the US. I agree with Josh when he says that it’s hard to pick out weaknesses in Hyland. He said “It’s hard to say if there are any weaknesses because with fighters at this level there is a very fine line between perfection and weakness. At this level the fighters don’t carry too many weaknesses and its only when you’re in there that you actually spot but we have obviously got to sit down at study tapes but fighters at this level are very intelligent and they know how to adapt. It’s always different with different opponents so I’m focusing on more of what I have got to do in the fight rather than what he can’t do.”
The fight against Hyland will be part of another stacked card that the Leeds fans will be treated to and Josh will be topping the bill once again. Although he doesn’t show it, I would have thought that the pressure would affect his performance but he now sees it as a normal thing for him. Asked if there was added pressure on him due to being the bill topper the champion said “No, not at all because I think it has become second nature now. Obviously there is the pressure of selling the tickets but I’ve got a great team and good friends who sort all of that out for me. The fans are in for a real treat, it’s going to be a really good night because everyone loves a summer night out and what a card to be headlining! You’ve got the likes of Tyrone Nurse fighting Tommy Coyle which will be a real barnstormer; you’ve got Gamal Yafai and Josh Wale which is again an exciting fight. Everyone loves a heavyweight and Dillian Whyte is a controversial one who brings entertainment so he will be good to watch. You’ve also got talents like Frankie Gavin, Ryan Burnett and Sam Eggington who is all action so I’m a big fan of his. It’s going to be one hell of a card and its one that I’m really looking forward to.
Warrington’s fans are something to be admired. They create awesome amounts of noise for their man and support him no matter who the opponent is. I expressed to josh that I think that’s it’s great that parts of the football culture, in terms of support, have been brought in to his support in recent years. The Leeds hero expressed “I sometimes have to pinch myself when I’m in the ring especially when I look up and see how passionate they all are. A lot of people say that it’s all football fans that come to watch me fight but you’re not telling me that all 80,000 people at Froch vs Groves 2 were boxing fans only! What’s wrong with liking a couple of different sports? Just because they follow the football doesn’t mean that they don’t/can’t follow boxing as well, they’ve also got a chance to support someone local and that’s all it is. They are a brilliant set of fans and when they come out, they come out in their numbers and the noise and the atmosphere that they generate is the best in the country, if not the best in the world! I had an eight rounder over in Germany on the Abraham vs Smith undercard and we took just shy of 700 over and it was a good away day for the boys and they all enjoyed it. They would go wherever at the drop of a hat, they are very passionate and like I’ve said many times before, I can’t thank every single one of them enough”
Eddie Hearn, Josh’s promoter, feels that josh should be aiming towards a world title in his next couple of fights and therefore feels that a slip up at this stage will undo a lot of hard work and it seems that josh shares the same opinion, he said “Well, there was talks of me and Lee Selby happening. We should be fighting him on July 30th but obviously that has been put on the back burner for the time being. I’m risking everything fighting Patrick Hyland so I’ve got to be switched on and be the best I can be because this is a very hard fight and one that I’m not really looking past”
One fight that a lot of fans were looking forward to being made was the Selby vs Warrington fight which should have happened this summer at Elland Road, the home of Leeds United Football Club but for some reason the fight has not come to fruition. Here is what Warrington had to say on the matter, “Well a lot of people have said that I bottled it because of the wedding but come on man! Do you know what I mean? They think that I really want to bottle fighting for a world title? It’s beyond my dream of fighting for the British title and I’ve now won the British and gone on leaps and bounds since then and now I’ve made my goal a world title but do you think I’m going to turn around and say that I don’t want the chance to fight for it? Do you think I’m going turn round and say that I don’t want to fight Lee Selby whose name has been mentioned for a few years now? Not only that, it would be a massive payday for us both so do the fans think I’m going to turn around and say ‘oh no, I’m too big I don’t need that money’? I’d be daft to think like that! The thing is, we got offered the fight with around 10 or 11 weeks to go and its now gone public that I’m getting married so we said let’s do it at the end of the year. It would mean more time to sell it and build up to it because I don’t need the distraction of getting married and things like that. A few people have even said ‘just cancel the wedding’ but I’ve already sacrificed a lot for my career and we are in a very good position and it can easily be made for the end of the year. He’s taken to social media and started giving it the big’un and he got quite personal with it by giving me a few insults but you know what? Some of them were actually quite funny but then I turned around and thought why is he actually doing that? First things first though I need to get past Patrick to keep that dream alive.”
I was extremely curious to see if Josh wanted to fight Selby because of his world title or just because the fans are demanding it. I asked “Would you still want the Lee Selby fight if he didn’t hold a world title?” and his reply straight away consisted of “I think so, now that he has said what he’s said but my main focus is on Patrick so if I get past him then I will see where we are at.”
The Featherweight has been very active since signing with Eddie Hearn due to being the start of every show at the Leeds Arena. The WBC international champion would have fought 7 times in just over 2 years which could possibly be taking its toll on the fighter. When asked about how many times he would like to fight before the end of the year he said “Probably one more fight after Hyland and then have a bit of a break because I’ve been consistently training for the past 2 years. People forget that I was meant to box on the O2 bill but I had to pull out. It’s not so much the fights, it’s the training camps because we are progressing leaps and bounds with each one. One minute people say I’m not on that level and then when I beat the guy, people say that I shouldn’t be fighting at that low level. Every time we step up it’s another big task, another big training camp but I’m getting to the stage now where I just want to fight for a world title. If I can beat Patrick Hyland then that is another good name on my CV and surely people will start looking at me as a potential world title challenger.”
The home town hero always looks in great shape when uploading progress pictures on to social media which gave me a feeling that he is extremely dedicated outside of camps and not just when training to top the bill in front of thousands of loyal fans. “You know me, straight after the Amagasa fight I was straight back in the gym 2 weeks later because I always like to keep in shape, keep fresh and keep learning. I’m only 25 and I’m constantly improving but I’m my biggest critic! After Amagasa I was a bit disappointed with my performance from switching off but I just try to improve whenever I can and make myself the best fighter possible and that’s what I’m doing by getting straight back in to the gym so I’m fit already and if they told me I’m fighting next week I could do it but we’ve got another 3 weeks to go” Josh said.
I noticed a little mark under Warrington’s eye as soon as he turned up to the press conference so I was eager to question where it had come from. In true Josh Warrington fashion he replied, with a straight face “that’s from my missus, she wanted a new pair of shoes and I finally put my foot down and said no but that’s what I got in return”. I thought this summed up Josh perfectly. A great lad with a witty sense of humour who took the time out to speak to us after doing a full day of media obligations. I would like to Thank Josh and wish him the best of luck on the 30th July when he takes a leap up in class against a very tough Irish man.