Josh Warrington is still the IBF featherweight champion after the Leeds man won a split decision over Yorkshire rival Kid Galahad in Warrington’s First Direct Arena domain.
Slippery Galahad did an effective job of quieting the crowd, which was no mean feat given that Warrington had been pumped up all week, inciting his hordes at the weigh-in, revelling in the atmosphere. Josh was not working at his usual pace for long spells of the contest, allowing the challenger to dictate terms too often in the early stages. The champ turned up the heat in the fifth, using his quick feet to close the distance and rip Galahad out of his comfort zone.
By the eighth round, Warrington was still struggling to break out of the snake charming effects of the Kid’s switch-hitting style. Even a raucous air horn emanating from the Leeds crowd could not rally their leader or create the hostility usually associated with the vociferous masses that follow Warrington.
Dominic Ingle seemed more pleased in his man’s corner than Sean O’Hagan in Warrington’s. When it all came down to the three wise men, two of them sided with Warrington’s come-forward intentions, while one fancied Galahad’s back foot boxing, bordering on negative clinching. As Richie Woodhall often says: “You pay your money, you take your choice”.
As effective as Galahad was, nobody wants to see him in action again. A Warrington win was better for the 126-pound division as a whole.
Midlands veteran Jason Welborn was stopped on the undercard by a slashing left hand to the body from JJ Metcalf in their crossroads battle. Oft-beaten Welborn gave a good account of himself in America late last year when he took the fight to heavy favourite Jarrett Hurd. Metcalf -the son of former pro, Shea Neary- stepped up when the moment demanded. Bigger nights are now on the table for impressive JJ.
Zelfa Barrett and Lyon Woodstock arrived in the chief support with a loss apiece. Woodstock left with two losses on the slate after “Brown Flash” Barrett took home a 12-round decision.
While Warrington and Galahad were busy engaging in a fistic chess match in Leeds, over in Latvia the World Boxing Super Series tournament was proceeding with no shortage of drama. Yunier Dorticos and Andrew Tabiti clashed in the first cruiserweight semi-final before hometown hero Mairis Briedis and Krysztof Glowacki excited the fans in a hectic headliner.
Briedis knocked the Pole out in round three of a bizarre contest. After a nip-and-tuck start, the madness began late in the second as Glowacki hit Briedis behind the head, prompting Briedis to respond with a solid elbow to the chin. Glowacki went to the canvas, indicating his genuine discomfort. Referee Robert Byrd was in no mood for messing around and told Glowacki to get to his feet. Lucky not to have received a disqualification, Briedis was merely docked a point. The crowd had whipped themselves up into such a frenzy that seconds later Mr Byrd could not hear the bell, and allowed a rocked and ragged Glowacki (who had been dropped and hurt by this point) to ship multiple shots.
Briedis later admitted he did, in fact, hear the bell. The third round ensued, and Glowacki was clearly in extreme discomfort. Briedis laid on the punishment, and a wobbly Glowacki was stopped soon after – cue furious complaints from the away man’s corner. Briedis grinned his way through the post-fight interview, and into the final. Providing the sanctioning bodies don’t intervene and change the official ending to a no contest.
Before all of these capers, Yunier Dorticos showed exactly why he calls himself the “KO Doctor”. Yunier unleashed a stunning right hand in the 10th that caught unbeaten opponent Andrew Tabiti on the chin just as the American threw a similar shot of his own. Tabiti, 29, was knocked out cold. Trained by Floyd Snr in the TMT gym, Tabiti possesses similar physical attributes to former victim Steve Cunningham but doesn’t come forward as much.
Tabiti has hand speed, mixed with a slippery ability to make an opponent miss, while not making them pay often enough. Dorticos suffered a cut to the right eye in the sixth round after persistent head clashes. The Cuban looked like he did not wish to continue. Referee Eddie Claudio pushed him back out and took a point away from Tabiti in the same round for holding.
The naughties continued into round seven; Dorticos landed a sneaky low blow which further antagonised Mr Claudio. The third man eventually calmed down as the pair boxed clean until the devastating finisher. Dorticos, who was stopped by Murat Gassiev in the semi-final of the previous cruiserweight WBSS, will be an extremely live dog in the final. The only issue he must overcome in the short term is the bad gash he sustained.