By Rory Fitzgerald
There is a very famous saying in boxing – never look past your next opponent. Amir Khan has been guilty of doing just that, and Josh Warrington will be hoping he doesn’t suffer the same lapse of concentration that his fellow Brit has done on more than one occasion.
Warrington will defend his WBC International and Commonwealth featherweight titles against the tough Aussie Joel Brunker this Saturday in his home town of Leeds. It will be his first defence of the WBC strap which he captured in April by beating Dennis Tubieron by a wide points margin.
Though Warrington will be keen to ensure he stays focused on the job in hand, everyone and their dog have been talking about a possible world title clash next year with Lee Selby. The venue that has been mooted for that clash is Elland Road, the home ground of Warrington’s beloved football club Leeds United.
The 24 year old has been compared to Ricky Hatton recently for the huge following he brings with him everywhere he goes. His exciting style mirrors the Hitmans, but his record suggests he hasn’t got the biggest punch in boxing (21-0, 4 KO). However, he has stopped 4 of his last 6 opponents, and it finally looks like he has added punch power to go along with his extremely talented technical side.
A stadium sell-out between Selby and Warrington for a world title would be absolutely huge for British boxing, and would be an enjoyable fight to watch (although maybe not one for the casuals).
Before that though, the Leeds man must beat Joel Brunker and look good in doing so. The Aussie brings with him a very strong record of 28 wins from 29 fights and only the one defeat. Interestingly, that one defeat came at the hands of Warrington’s potential future foe, who goes by the quirky nickname of “The Welsh Mayweather”. Brunker gave Selby a tough night’s work back in October, before the Barry man stopped his opponent in the ninth.
Brunker’s stock certainly rose that night and after what Selby has gone on to do (win the IBF world featherweight title), it makes his performance look that bit better. He has fought only once since, a two round blow-out against Phillipino Rey Laspinas in February, so will come into this fight extremely fresh and hungry.
Warrington will be equally hungry though, and will be keen to put on an impressive display to show the boxing world, and maybe Lee Selby, that he belongs on the world stage.
In what will be an incredibly loud and volatile crowd at Elland Road, Warrington will be right at home (literally), where as the Aussie might just be in for a bit of a shock at the atmosphere that awaits him.
It will be the Leeds mans biggest test of his career to date and I would certainly not be backing against him. While I don’t think he will have it all his own way, I’m sure he will have enough for Brunker on the night, before going onto bigger and better things in the future.
Prediction : Warrington by decision
Also on the card on Saturday night is Martin Murray who has his first crack at a title at his new and comfortable home of super-middleweight. He takes on Colombian Jose Miguel Torres for the vacant WBA inter-continental strap.
Andy Townend defends his English super featherweight title against Lee Glover, while Scott Cardle, Kal Yafai and Stuart Hall will all be on a stacked undercard.
There will also be Irish interest on the card as Luke Keeler looks to continue his rise up the ranks. He takes on the tough Doncaster man Jason ball in a scheduled six rounder. The Dublin middleweight will be looking to improve on his (8-1) record. His only loss was to Tom Doran in the semi-final of prizefighter after unfortunately breaking his hand in the previous round.