Lee Selby v Josh Warrington: Elland Road bout 'destiny' for Leeds fighter
|Lee Selby v Josh Warrington|
|Date: Saturday, 19 May Venue: Elland Road, Leeds Coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 live plus live text coverage on BBC Sport website and app.|
Josh Warrington says it is his destiny to "reach the top of the mountain" and claim rival Lee Selby's IBF world featherweight title on Saturday night.
The Leeds fighter, 27, will bid for a first world title at Elland Road - home of his beloved Leeds United - in front of an estimated 25,000 fans.
Warrington says he "couldn't have picked a better place" to become the city's first boxing world champion.
"This will be a fairytale ending, slash the start of a new chapter," he said.
"When I was working as a dental technician and they announced Leeds would have an arena I used to picture myself fighting there.
"A few years later I was headlining it. Anytime I've gone to Elland Road people have said 'imagine fighting here,' for a split second I have pictured it and I kind of feel like I have been there already.
"I massively believe this is destined to be."
Warrington has established a reputation as a rampant ticket seller in the sport, so much that until recently he was hand-delivering tickets to fans. His passionate following has also been compared to what Ricky Hatton gradually built during his charge towards world titles.
"A few years ago I was being billed as the next Hatton," added Warrington. "I ran away with my own hype. It's hard not to get carried away.
"You feel like you're on clouds, a god of the city. I've learned to deal with it the right way. Feed off the energy, let them feed me in the final rounds but at the same time keep my focus."
Leeds' band Kaiser Chiefs will play Warrington's ring music and some observers question how Wales' slick champion Selby - a bookmakers' favourite and making his fifth defence of the title - will cope in what is sure to be a hostile atmosphere.
"I am 110% certain he will thrive on the hostility," said Selby's trainer Tony Borg. "Josh is a very good fighter all round but Lee is an elite fighter, a level above."
A date with the Jackal?
Warrington has pursued his rival for around two years and earned a position as mandatory challenger.
The bout looks set to be a clash of styles, with Selby - nicknamed 'The Welsh Mayweather' - adept at proving hard to hit and flashy, while Warrington typically provides pressure and work rate.
And in arguably boxing's most competitive division globally, the winner will have options, not least a big-money bout with Northern Ireland's former world champion Carl Frampton, who is awaiting an opponent on 18 August.
"The winner of this fight is the one I will be looking at," said Frampton, who is nicknamed the Jackal. "We will have to see how it goes, the winner would need to come out unscathed to be ready for August."
Selby, who has previously described Frampton as "easy work" feels he will deliver a "masterclass" in Yorkshire.
"I can't afford slip ups but I have one eye on the future and the big future fight is Frampton," Selby, 31, told BBC Sport. "I am more than happy to travel straight out to Belfast and defend my title again.
"I'm on the right path to creating some sort of legacy for myself. I'll go down in history as only the 12th man from Wales to win a world title. To defend it at a place like Elland Road and hopefully over in Belfast will definitely leave a legacy."
Boxing under the stars - Analysis
BBC Sport boxing correspondent Mike Costello: "There are going to be times where Josh Warrington finds Lee Selby difficult to pin down. If Lee Selby, particularly early on, can quieten the crowd, that could be significant. It could have a significant impact on the result."
BBC Radio 5 live analyst Steve Bunce: "If you get one stadium fight every three years you remember it. On Saturday, we will walk through stadium gates for the fifth time in a little over a year. These are unprecedented days. Let's get that firmly established.
"Neither man knows what it is like to walk out in front of maybe 30,000 people or so. Anthony Joshua has told us it 'takes your breath away'. All those people holding up their phones, its like you're walking out into the Milky Way. Who knows what happens to a man who has never seen that before."
Selby's exceptional spirit - Did you know?
- Warrington is trained by his father Sean O'Hagan.
- They will be led to the ring by former Leeds United captain Lucas Radebe, one of the challenger's childhood heroes.
- Selby showed "exceptional spirit" in the eyes of BBC Radio 5 live's Steve Bunce when he defended his title in July three days after his mother had died unexpectedly.
- The champion is a huge hip hop fan as a result of finding a Wu Tang Clan cassette when he was a child. He walks to the ring to the Big L track ''Lifestyles of the poor and dangerous' because he says as a young fighter he was "poor and dangerous".
Can Adams find 'lost momentum'?
Another Leeds fighter - two-time Olympic champion Nicola Adams - provides an eye-catching proposition on the undercard in what is her fourth professional bout.
The 35-year-old flyweight takes on Soledad del Valle Frias, an Argentine fighter who has been beaten in three world title contests during a 28-fight career which boasts 13 wins.
Adams has recently endured a frustrating spell away from the ring, including a split from her partner and supporting her mother's fight against cancer.
Her trainer Virgil Hunter is also battling ill health, prompting a re-shuffle in her preparation for a bout she must win if she is to build momentum towards the world title shots she craves.
BBC Boxing correspondent Mike Costello: "Adams' professional career has stuttered. My feeling is one that I've had for six years and that is she should have turned professional after London 2012. She had such momentum as the first ever female Olympic champion.
"She is trying to cause the wave, not ride the wave. Boxers like her, Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields are flying the flag for women's boxing but it might well be the benefits of what they are doing now will be felt by female boxers in 10 years time."
BBC Radio 5 live analyst Steve Bunce: "In the second Olympics she doesn't break sweat. I'm not saying it was easy, it never is, but she was so dominant and good.
"She has to box 10 rounds for the first time on Saturday. The other champions at her weight have done that 10 or 12 times or more. The idea that she can pick up four world titles is a tough ask. They are not giving world titles away and she has a really hard 18 months in front of her."