Aftermath: Selby vs Warrington

Boxing Monthly
20/05/2018 10:27am

To the delight of the 20,000-plus fans in attendance at Elland Road, Leeds, Josh Warrington wrested the IBF featherweight title from Lee Selby on Saturday night. Chris Williamson, James Oddy, Paul Zanon, Shaun Brown, Luca Rosi and Lee Gormley analyse the fight and the future for both boxers...

BM: What was your assessment of the fight? How did you see and score it?

CW: I love a good all-British world title fight and this one brought back memories of the Paul Hodkinson / Steve Robinson / Duke McKenzie featherweight dust-ups of the 1990s. Beforehand I strongly fancied Lee Selby to triumph, as the proven world operator with the speed and skills - so I thought - to outclass Josh Warrington. The local man proved me and many others wrong with intelligent pressure and crisper punching which bullied the champion. I had Warrington winning by four rounds but it wouldn’t be boxing without at least one hooky scorecard to shake our heads at!

JO: In the messy (very messy!) chaos of row D of the press section, I found it hard to give Selby more than four rounds. The Welshman's shots seemed slow and lacking spite for the most part, whilst Warrington looked like he was dipping his opponent's legs regularly. I said in my preview that the fight would be decided on how well Warrington could stick to a game plan and how well Selby could handle the pressure Warrington brought. The Yorkshire man never got caught up in exchanges longer than required whilst Selby looked drained and ragged at times.

PZ: Firstly - cracking fight. I thought that the cut changed the dynamic of the contest, forcing Selby to constantly hunt Warrington for the stoppage, in fear of the bout being stopped by the doctor. That's where Warrington impressed me. He was able to box off the back foot and showed a few new additions to his boxing toolbox, previously unseen.

SB: I thought Warrington executed his tactics superbly. He jumped on Selby from minute one and never let him breathe. Work-rate, pressure, accuracy, a bit of roughhousing and Selby didn't have anywhere to go at times. Selby's movement and evasiveness were nowhere to be seen and he got dragged into a Warrington fight. I scored it 117-113 to Warrington.

LR: I don't think anyone will dispute the final outcome - Warrington fully deserved his win and as he said himself 'outboxed the boxer'. Buoyed by the crowd, he was able to step up and produce the goods, possibly even exceeding his own expectations. You can't ask for more. The weight and the cuts may well have played a part (credit to Chris Sanigar for talking the doctor out of a stoppage - although Warrington would surely have won on the cards) but I feel Selby underestimated the Leeds warrior as he had done pretty much throughout the pre-fight slanging matches. It was telling that Selby did a little hop and skip right at the start of the fight and set about dancing around the ring - maybe he thought this would be an easy night's work, fighting at range and jabbing his way to a points win.

LG: Warrington put in the performance of his life and got everything he deserved, though Selby was far from his best too. The cuts sustained early were a big factor and it was clear Selby was struggling at the weight after the opening rounds. But you can't take anything away from the home fighter, he proved all the doubters wrong, including myself, and has now set himself up for further high-profile fights and paydays. He was all over Selby from the opening bell and got his gameplan spot on. A lot of credit should go to his father and trainer too, Sean O'Hagan, for having come up with the perfect tactics to outwork a supposedly 'superior' opponent.

BM: Where next for both men?

CW: Kid Galahad is currently the highest-rated contender in the IBF rankings and a Yorkshire derby - shades of Hamed vs Ingle - looks a natural before Warrington targets the rival champs at featherweight.

JO: Warrington has written himself into Leeds folklore by becoming the city's first world champion. I've no doubt he could fight a string of 'gimmes' and he'd sell plenty of tickets. However, he's clearly demonstrated he belongs at that world level now. A Kid Galahad fight makes perfect sense, as Chris said. After that a Frampton fight could become a huge event in either Leeds or Belfast. As for Selby, be looked 'off' from the start. The cut certainly didn't help but physically he didn't look right. Weight drained? Injured? Out of form? Who knows. I hope he has a rest and comes back refreshed and revitalised.

PZ: Warrington vs Frampton at either Elland Road or Windsor Park would be brilliant. Selby needs to take some time off and decide the best road to take to redemption.

SB: For Warrington, some time off. Physically and mentally he's put himself through the mill a bit. He needs to spend a month out of the gym, go and celebrate, and no doubt attend some gatherings in Leeds which I am sure there will be a few of. After that, I see a return later on in the year. Kid Galahad is ranked highly with the IBF, another good all-British tussle. Or maybe something more straight forward to ensure he is champion by the end of the year. Frampton and Valdez are mouth watering fights but I think they'll be on the agenda for next year. Selby will likely move to 130lbs. He has often stated that he makes the weight fine but last night signalled the end for him at featherweight. There are some interesting match-ups to be made for him at super feather to get in the mix at world level. Someone like Denis Shafikov, perhaps, to start off.

LR: Selby needs to regroup and think carefully about his future - has mother time caught up with him? Did we think he was better than he actually is? And, most importantly, is his heart still in boxing (or does want to retire to his quiet life on Selby farm)? Warrington, on the other hand, at 27, is improving all the time and can only get better. A fight against Frampton next would be ill-advised, I presume he will want to make a more comfortable title defence against a carefully chosen opponent.

LG: Carl Frampton in August is far too early for Warrington after such a tough fight, so he'll need plenty of time away from the gym. Mentally, as well as physically, such a massive occasion can take its toll and he's earned his break now before a first defence later in the year. Kid Galahad would be a promising opponent for another big night in Leeds for the new champion when he's ready. As for Selby, moving up in weight is his best move and he's already hinted at that. There will be plenty of good match-ups for him at super-feather and the chance to become a two-weight titlist is exciting for him, despite this setback.

BM: Santa Cruz, Russell Jr, Valdez and Warrington now have the belts but who do you think is he best feather out there? And which two feathers would you most like to see meet?

CW: I’ll side with the Boxing Monthly rankings in placing Santa Cruz top of the pile, but all four champions are accomplished and have been facing testing competition. Russell Jr looked excellent in a superb match with Diaz Jr a few hours after Warrington bullied Selby and Frampton has an as yet unannounced big Belfast fight scheduled for August which I hope is against full WBO boss Valdez. Santa Cruz vs Russell Jr is top of my wish list although the beauty of the division is that the top ten are fighting each other and more often than not the fights are excellent.

JO: Santa Cruz is my pick as the best out there, but I like what all four of them bring to the table. I'd personally love to see the rubber match between Frampton and Santa Cruz.

SB: Russell Jr is the best out there but he's too inactive and it drives me nuts. He could really dominate this division with his skillset. Warrington vs Frampton or Valdez, as I mentioned, would be fight of the year contenders. Particularly the latter. It's agGreat division wherever you look - Russell vs Frampton, Russell vs Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz vs Frampton 3, Quigg vs Mares, Quigg vs Donaire, Warrington vs Quigg... endless possibilities.

LG: Warrington has joined great company in claiming his world title and a unification with either of those other champions would be very interesting. I'm a huge fan of Valdez and the big one I want to see in the division is the Mexican against Frampton. It has all the ingredients for an absolute epic. However, with Valdez and Warrington still developing, even with world titles in their possession, and Russell Jr frustratingly only fighting once a year, Santa Cruz is probably the 'main man' at 126lbs, especially if he can deal with Abner Mares once again.