Josh Warrington’s Father-trainer, Sean O’Hagan, recalls his Yorkshire terrier’s unimpeded rise to tonight’s stadium IBF title fight in Leeds and reveals why the Tyke’s are so confident they’ll emerge triumphantly.
“People often ask if it’s emotionally difficult to coach my own flesh and blood in this hard game but we’re from a tough council estate in Leeds where people clobber one another at school and on the streets on a daily basis. I’d much rather see Josh whacked with leather gloves in a ring than with a cricket bat on the pavement!
People seriously underestimate Josh’s toughness because of his laidback manner. Selby’s side started this Twitter war and it started to get a bit personal so Josh had a pop back. But by nature, he’s soft as owt; a real humble, relaxed kid who goes out of his way for everybody, hence his popularity.
Josh doesn’t know how to be nasty and, you know what, neither does Lee Selby. They’re just two decent kids who desperately want to win a world title fight on Saturday. At the end of the day, its just 36 minutes boxing and, whichever way it goes, I hope both come home safe.
I personally like Lee Selby. He’s an ordinary guy like we are and a very, very good fighter. I’m a fan of boxing at every level, not just my own son, so you have to admire Selby’s class. We’ll be mindful of his ability to control the pace, his accuracy and his movement. He’s good all round but I don’t think his recent opposition has been brilliant. He’s had an easy ride as world champion.
The main reason I’m so confident is because Josh is a natural featherweight whereas Lee is a natural super-feather who trains doing 20-minute rounds in a sweat suit.
I don’t really buy into these ‘Selby has fought in better class’ or ‘Selby hits harder’ lines. Josh has stopped six of his last 11 at title level, Lee has stopped just three of his last 11 and I believe Josh has faced more ‘live’ opposition. The Selbys have been riding off the back of that stoppage win over Stephen Smith for way too long. It was almost seven years ago and we know of reasons why Smith wasn’t himself that night.
Home advantage is a bonus. In Leeds, we always turn out and back our own. Josh finally gets his opportunity at his beloved Leeds United with his favourite players, past and present, willing him on from ringside, and his favourite band, Kaiser Chiefs, playing a set to rouse the crowd. For Josh, it symbolises that he’s arrived. It’s going to be a very, very special night.
Several people have mentioned that Josh might get carried away with the emotion of it all but that won’t be the case. The First Direct Arena was built for acoustics so the noise outdoors won’t be any more mental than when we’ve fought there. He coped then.
Josh has worked so hard that he fully deserves to enjoy his ring walk and savour the atmosphere. But as the challenger, he enters first. The other mob are sure to keep us waiting in the ring as long as possible so that’ll give us time to restore a bit of control and respect. The crowd does get him emotional but, once the bell sounds, his concentration is very good.
Lee’s held his belt so long now and had such an easy ride of late, I believe that mentally he’s become lax. Complacent. He says all his challengers were ‘easy work’ when, clearly, they weren’t. [Fernando] Montiel enjoyed some massive successes against him and he was a 36-year-old ex-flyweight!
They’re a complete contrast of styles. Obviously, I’ll not reveal our plan but Selby claims there’s no way we can outbox him. Wait and see!
Josh is so determined. He simply won’t allow himself to get beat but the main reason I’m so confident is because Josh is a natural featherweight whereas Lee is a natural super-feather who trains doing 20-minute rounds in a sweat suit.
While we can focus solely on strategy and improving technique in camp, Selby will have a real struggle just to make weight. Consequently, he’ll not have the reserves we’ll have. We believe that when we go up through the gears, Selby won’t be able to go with us.
I genuinely think that Josh could stop him. Lee can be caught cold, early. Eric Hunter put him on his arse but Hunter’s a lazy fighter and failed to capitalise. Josh won’t have to save any fuel for the later rounds. He’s got phenomenal natural stamina. If he tags Selby, he’ll be over him like a rash.
Lee’s not an aggressive fighter but, at some stage, he’ll have to dig in and he’s never had to scrap a ‘live’ opponent like Josh Warrington. We’ll systematically close him down. Put a tenner on Warrington, rounds nine and ten!”