Josh Warrington proved he has the ability to become a central attraction in West Yorkshire boxing after retaining his English featherweight title with a terrific victory over Devon’s Jamie Speight at a packed Leeds Town Hall last Friday.
Leeds star Warrington trains out of the Central Boxing Club in Batley, alongside Dewsbury star Gary Sykes and stablemate Tony Aitcheson and he took centre stage with a terrific all-action display.
Warrington dominated the fight from the first bell in front of his vociferous home following.
Fans battled through heavy snow and packed out Leeds Town Hall to create a cauldron atmosphere.
The last time the hisitoric Leeds town hall staged professional boxing was when Carl Johanneson defeated Ricky Burns for the British super featherweight title six years ago but promoters will surely return to the venue after such a successful evening.
Warrington entered the ring to a raucus rendition of Leeds United anthem Marching on Together and it helped whip the crowd into a frenzy and supporters got behind their home town star, roaring him on from the first bell.
Warrington took control from the start, targetting Speight’s body with some stinging shots.
Speight was rocked by a cracking right to the jaw in the second but the Devon man showed real heart to battle through.
Despite falling further behind in the middle rounds and suffering a cut above his right eye, Speight refused to give in as the two men continued to trade blows in a cracking tear up.
Each round was action packed but it was Warrington who continued to produce the more eye catching work to the delight of his huge support.
Warrington showed great stamina to maintain pressure throughout and towards the end of the ninth, he looked to be on the verge of forcing a stoppage.
Both men came out for the 10th and final round to a standing ovation and it was Warrington who continued to dominate.
Warrington rocked Speight with another cracking shot at the start of the final round as he went in search of a late stoppage.
Speight deserved to hear the final bell after showing tremendous heart throughout but there was no doubt in the result, with all three judges awarding Warrington victory by huge margins.
Judge Phil Edwards and judge Michael Alexander both scored the contest 100-91, while Dave Parris awarded it 100-90 in favour of Warrington, who seems certain to have more glory nights in front of his home fans.
After being presented with his English title belt, Warrington took the announcer’s microphone to thank his training team and his supporters.
Speaking after the fight, Warrington said: “Maybe it was a tougher fight than I thought it would be.
“I caught him with some good shots but he did well to hang in there and kept coming back.
“There were a couple of times when I thought he’d gone over but he managed to hold on and kept battling back and it was a good fight.”
Manchester’s Jon Kays defeated Abdul Rashid on points after a four round undercard fight to set up a clash with Gary Sykes.
Dewsbury star Sykes will defend his English super featherweight title against Kays on the Amir Khan-Julio Diaz bill in Shefield on April 27. Sykes has been given an allocation of tickets, which are priced £50 or £75.