No other British fighter enjoyed the same meteoric rise to the top that Josh Warrington did last year and after a blockbuster 2018, the Leeds fighter’s stock could be set to rise even further in 2019.
His first task is to overcome a tricky customer in Kid Galahad for the second defence of his IBF World featherweight title on Saturday night when West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire collide at Leeds’ First Direct Arena.
The 28-year-old might have gotten comfortable in the shoes of an underdog, a role which he’s played out magnificently for large parts of his professional career, particularly last year when he snatched the title from Lee Selby in May. He then defended the same title against the former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton in December but this time out he’ll be playing the part of favourite - a dangerous position to be in when it comes to boxing.
His opponent, Galahad, was banned for two years between 2014 and 2016 after testing positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid, and will undoubtedly be portraying the pantomime villain when the two meet in the ring but doping scandals aside he can’t be written off on the night. Galahad can box.
The Qatar-born 29-year-old is a product of the famous Ingle Gym in Sheffield, a powerhouse when it comes to producing British boxing talent and somewhere that includes Prince Naseem, Herol Graham, Johnny Nelson, Kell Brook and several others among its alumni.
The unbeaten fighter had a solid year in 2018, winning all three of his fights and looked far more composed than he had at earlier stages in his career, and seemed to show much more maturity as he navigated the ring.
Galahad and, trainer, Dominic Ingle have been seemingly unimpressed with Warrington’s rapid ascension to the top in the build-up and both claim they’ve spotted weaknesses in Warrington’s style and firmly believe the IBF belt will be moving to a new home 36 miles down the M1 this weekend.
Warrington’s name might not be a household one like Messrs Joshua and Fury in the UK just yet, but his star quality is definitely rising and a win against Kid Galahad this weekend, a scrap seeped in genuine animosity, will undoubtedly raise his profile on these shores further.
Should he beat his mandatory challenger, it will open up avenues Stateside for ‘The Leeds Warrior’ and although his full focus right now is on his opponent from Sheffield, he has set out his post-fight plans.
Speaking this week, Warrington said: “I have set new goals now, I want to unify the division and mix it with guys like Leo Santa Cruz, Oscar Valdez and Gary Russell Jr.
He added: “I made it clear, I told Frank Warren I want to go to the States and make memories, things that people will talk about for years to come.”
Whatever happens this weekend, Warrington’s come-forward approach to fights rarely leaves fans disappointed and this weekend’s showdown between two of Britain’s best featherweights should prove to be no different.