Josh Warrington is still the IBF champion after a thrilling points win over Carl Frampton in Manchester last night. The featherweight king could’ve taken a soft defence but insisted that he instead wanted someone of Frampton’s ilk.
Warrington picked up his IBF strap in May of this year after outlasting Welshman Lee Selby. The deposed champion was severely weight drained, and entered the lion’s den against a fired-up champion roared on by his Leeds faithful. Warrington showed impressive adaptability, varying up his attacks by drawing leads and countering.
Those tactics were employed against Frampton this time as the rampant Leeds warrior started fast and put the opening two rounds in the bank in emphatic style. Bursting with energy, Warrington’s flurries threatened to overwhelm the challenger as Frampton struggled for air.
Warrington’s status as the non-puncher was proving to be folly in the early stages as he rocked Frampton with ferocious blows. The Belfast challenger, to his immense credit, fought back and began pocketing rounds in the middle portion of the fight. A solid eighth dragged Frampton back into the contest on the scorecards, but Warrington’s fitness told as he raked home shots from all angles in the final rounds to take it unanimously on the judges’ cards: 116-112 (twice) and 116-113.
“I might not be a one-punch knockout artist like Naseem Hamed, but I have the power to get the respect of any of the champions,” Warrington explained afterwards.
“It was similar to the Selby game plan. I thought I had him hurt, but he’s a tough, tough man.”
Frank Warren heaped voluminous praise upon the two combatants, both of whom are contracted to the veteran promoter.
“I’ve been in this business 40 odd years and been involved in some great fights,” buzzed Frank. “That for me is the best title fight I’ve ever seen in a British ring. This is one of those nights when you say ‘I was there, I saw it live’, and I’ve seen a lot of fights.”
The Queensberry kingpin indicated that he would support defeated Frampton with whatever decision he makes about his future.
“Carl’s a very sensible guy, he’ll have a think about it and make a decision about his future. It takes two to make a great fight,” said Warren.
As for Warrington, Frank is pretty pleased with how things have panned out. Josh’s success has vindicated Frank’s decision to snap him up and push for a crack at the IBF title.
“I remember when Josh first came to me, and a few people slagged him to the high heavens, saying he was going nowhere. But I saw something in him. He’s the best featherweight out there.”
Josh is now the WBO Interim champion (for what that’s worth). Future options include Oscar Valdez, Gary Russell Jr or Leo Santa Cruz. Whenever Warrington, 28, was over in Las Vegas to observe Frampton’s second clash with Santa Cruz believing one day that he could witness the unique delight of the Leeds crowd hitting the strip.
Out of all the money-spinning choices, Kid Galahad is the least appealing option, and Frank doesn’t fancy giving the Sheffield mover his opportunity.
“If you had the list of fights that fight would be at the bottom,” Frank scathed.
On the undercard, Michael Conlan had too much for Doncaster’s Jason Cunningham over 10 rounds. Cunningham looked like a cut-price Jamie McDonnell but was brave and could fight. Conlan pushed for the stoppage in the final round, and it is to the credit of Cunningham and referee Steve Gray that the Englishman survived the hear the final bell. Conlan picked up the WBO Intercontinental featherweight strap for his troubles. The judges handed in scores of 97-92 twice and 98-92 all in Conlan’s favour.
Liam Williams boxed to the perfect gameplan against Mark Heffron to take home the vacant British middleweight title. Williams moved effectively, not allowing Heffron to set his feet and unleash the big bombs. Jabbing with admirable efficacy, Williams never got greedy with early success and kept softening up Heffron before stopping him in the 10th.
Nathan Gorman impressed and laboured in equal measure en route to a unanimous points win over former world title challenger Razvan Cojanu. Gorman is very young and still learning, so this test came at the right time for his progression. Gorman is closing in on a British title shot and won by scores of 120-108 and 119-109 twice.