By Thomas Lyons of TheFightBusiness.WordPress.com
Even a somewhat controversial 115-113 scorecard in favour of Lee Selby wasn’t going to deny Leeds’ hometown favourite Josh Warrington from becoming their first world champion. With neither fighters carrying concussive one punch power, many predicted the fight would go the distance and so it did.
In front of a 25,000 strong Leeds United faithful at Elland Road, Selby was entering the Lions Den as the favourite according to most bookmakers, and the hostile atmosphere didn’t seem to phase the Welshman as he made his way to the ring. Warrington was played into the ring by the Kaiser Chiefs and had the home crowd chanting his beloved Leeds United’s club anthem, ‘Marching on Together.’
There was a lot of animosity and needle in the build-up, but once both men stepped in the ring, it was solely business and the bad blood was put to one side as the pair traded blows.
As expected, Warrington made a ferocious start on the front foot and controlled the pace and intensity of the fight. Bagging himself the first two rounds, it looked as if Selby was struggling to find his rhythm and deal with the relentlessness of the challenger. Selby was left with a nasty cut to his left eye after an accidental clash of heads during the second round. With blood pouring from Selby’s eye profusely and obscuring his vision, the defending champion appeared to be some discomfort and started to lose confidence in his work.
Warrington had Selby where he wanted him, employing bullish tactics at stages, catching Selby with ease. Warrington struggled to find his range in the third, and Selby started to have some success up close. The fourth was another round tough to split but again Selby seemed sluggish and whether the weight was having an effect on him, his punches didn’t seem to have much snap that we usually see from him.
The next three rounds were all Warringtons and with the cut above the eye deepening, referee Michael Alexander called upon the advice of the doctor to check whether Selby could continue. At this rate, a stoppage for Warrington seemed inevitable almost, but the man from Barry showed a huge amount of bravery to go the distance.
The margin began to widen, as Warrington found his range in the final rounds with the jab, and outclassed Selby who was beginning to show signs of desperation, knowing the fight was slipping away from him.
After twelve rounds of non-stop action, it went to the judge’s scorecards. An absurd 115-113 tally in favour of Selby left many at ringside shocked but when the other two judges scored the fight to Warrington 116-112 and 115-113 respectively, the words ‘And the New’ sent Warrington to his knees, realising his dream has become a reality.
With Carl Frampton at ringside, promoter Frank Warren gave credit to Warrington for a dominant performance and suggested there could be a potential fight between the pair at the end of the year if it doesn’t place in the summer at Windsor Park.
For Selby, it looks like a move up to Super-featherweight might be the best option moving forward after five consecutive world title defences at 126lbs and struggling to make the tight 9 stone limit.