Leeds warrior Josh Warrington makes the 2nd defence of his IBF featherweight title against Sheffield’s Kid Galahad at The First Direct Arena in Leeds on Saturday 15th June, televised in the UK by BT Sport and on ESPN in the USA.
The build-up to this fight has been bitter and at times disgraceful. It’s a god given that taking a fight against Warrington in Leeds you are going to be subject to some football fan type behaviour, but Josh and his father/trainer Sean O’Hagen have targeted Galahad for the 2 year ban he received for taking PED’s in 2015.
It is accepted practice to try and intimidate your opponent if they are coming to fight on your turf, but to use this tactic leaves you vulnerable to accusations of hypocrisy. Would Team Warrington refuse to fight on the same bill as stablemate Tyson Fury who failed a drug test when training for a proposed rematch with Wladimir Klitschko in 2016?
Galahad has earned the right to this fight the hard way by traveling to Boston, Massachusetts to face Toka Kahn Clary (25-1-0). Galahad won a clear unanimous 12 round decision against a highly touted prospect with scores of 115-113 and 118-110 twice.
There is a much heard argument that any professional boxer that fails a drug test should be banned for life. It has been said publicly by boxers, managers and promoters, but if we are not going to carry out this or perhaps something like a 5-10 year ban with no appeal, what makes Galahad any guiltier than Dillian Whyte, Jarrell Miller, Lucas Browne, Tyson Fury, or Canelo Alvarez?
Josh Warrington is a standout British fighter that won against the odds against Lee Selby and then Carl Frampton due to superb fitness, heart, and good boxing skills. His Leeds faithful will always put him 3 rounds ahead on the scorecards before the first bell has sounded, and that should be accepted as part of boxing at home, but unless he speaks out against Fury and all the other convicted drug cheats from this point onwards, he and his father have used the issue under false pretences.
Selby and Frampton can attest to how difficult it is to turn back the constant, marauding pressure that Warrington can apply throughout the 12 round distance, I’m not sure there is another fighter in the business with a better engine, to make matters worse, the man has a good boxing brain which he uses to break up the tempo and take a breather when needed.
In The Toka Khan Clary bout, Galahad always held the advantage in boxing ability and took away the hand speed of the resident of provident, Rhode Island, he schooled a talented prospect.
It will be interesting to see how much the hostile atmosphere inside the First Direct Arena affects Galahad. He seems capable of performing under pressure, but he is unlikely to have ever experienced the cauldron that Warrington’s faithful fans are going to create for him in this fight.
One Ingle fighter that knows what this is going to be like for Galahad is former Featherweight ruler Naseem Hamed, who travelled to Cardiff in 1995 to challenge WBO featherweight champion Steve Robinson for his title. Robinson’s fans spat and threw coins at ‘The Prince’, screaming abuse as he walked to the ring. Hamed gained his revenge by stopping the brave and always underrated Robinson in 8 rounds. Hamed was widely criticised for tormenting and humiliating Robinson during the fight.
Advice from Hamed may have been given but it will still be a matter of Galahad being able to stay calm and sticking to the game plan, even trainer Dominic Ingle’s temperament has been stretched to its limits in the build-up, taking his jacket off and offering to quieten down one of Warrington’s fans who hurled abuse from a safe distance.
Galahad impressed in the Toka Khan Clay fight, but that might be a walk in the park as far as the intimidation factor goes, and Warrington is going to set a pace that Selby and Frampton, both top-class operators could not handle. I would be surprised if Galahad gets to the championship rounds but more likely is that Warrington stops the Sheffield man before the 6th round.