IBF World Champion Josh Warrington has once again defended his title at the First Direct Arena. Leeds Hacks has been discovering the impact he’s having on the city’s boxing community.
The 28 year old has always relied on the importance of the Leeds boxing community and continues to win fights in his hometown.
Warrington has fast become a huge player in the boxing scene with a 30-0 record in the featherweight division and a determination to not give up his world title.
He told frankwarren.com that he has always been “obsessed with Leeds” and that he loves his hometown.
Success comes with respect
Boxing is no easy sport, and the pressures that come with it can have a massive effect on even the most successful fighters. Warrington has worked his way up the Leeds boxing scene, amongst other fighters who have great respect for his success.
Leeds Hacks spoke to professional boxer Harry Matthews, who fought on the undercard of Warrington’s fight against Jack Chelli earlier this year at the First Direct Arena.
Matthews has an impressive record, with many wins under his belt and having already fought Chris Eubank Jr. and Nick Blackwell, losing by small margins in both fights.
“You work yourself into overdrive”
Matthews told us about the challenges a boxer faces in the ring, and how hard Warrington has worked to get to where he is now.
“When is comes to getting in the ring it’s not just the buildup the night before, it’s the weeks or months of hard work with limited social time and with this comes lots of different emotions, from being tired from training to getting snappy because of the diet.
“In the gym you are working yourself into overdrive and you really do have to be mentally strong.”
Matthews spent a lot of time around Warrington when he was coming up through the boxing scene and had a first-hand view of what the championship fighter is like.
“Josh Warrington is an inspirational character. He’s like the Leeds version of Ricky Hatton. He’s a fan favourite for his busy style and has started with small hall shows and worked his way up to do everything that has been asked of him.
“I am a big fan of Josh, in the beginning I was on the same small hall shows as him and it’s great to see what he has achieved.”
The importance of community in boxing is huge, and with Leeds being such a big boxing city it is easy to see the effect that Warrington’s success has had.
Many boxers have been inspired by what he has accomplished and how he has helped the sport grow.
“It’s huge having world champions from Leeds”
Sarah-Jane Murray, founder of Unorthobox, is confident that boxing in Leeds is on the rise.
“I think it’s huge having world champions from Leeds. When I was younger I remember saying to my coach “wouldn’t it be great to have a Leeds world champion. The nearest successful boxers at that time were from Sheffield.
“Now we have more than one world champion and some great up and coming fighters. I predict Jack Bateson and Amateur Youth World Champion Olly Simpson will be our next World Champions. It’s exciting times for boxing in Leeds.”
Boxing has always been a controversial sport due to its violent nature but it seems that the only effect it is having on Leeds is a positive one.
Professional fighters such as Warrington and Matthews are increasing the popularity of the sport by providing local role models to children and increasing participation in contact sports.
With several boxing clubs now open in Leeds and catering to all ages and abilities, there has never been a better time to get into boxing.
Josh Warrington has not yet booked his next fight, however he shows no sign of retiring anytime soon and his Leeds fanbase is eagerly awaiting his next bout.