This weekend we see the battle of Yorkshire at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, when Sheffield’s’ Kid Galahad challenges home favourite Josh Warrington for his IBF Featherweight World Championship live on BT in what looks to be a fascinating contest.
Warrington was the British fighter of the year in 2018, with unexpected wins over Lee Selby and Carl Frampton. Not many picked him to beat either when the fights were announced, but both times Josh bullied both fighters with his relentless, come forward style, and was able hurt both Selby and Frampton, announcing himself on the global stage in the process. His fans are among the most fervent we have seen and have previously filled two massive arenas in Elland Road and the Manchester Arena. The Leeds hero will once more be roared into the arena once more by his army of supporters.
Of all British fighters, Galahad is one of the few people you would expect least likely to be deterred by such a smouldering atmosphere, given his cold and calm demeanour, which very rarely changes. I struggle to remember one occasion that Galahad has displayed any form of emotion throughout his career; he has even admitted being a sociopath in the lead up to this fight. He will certainly not receive the same rapturous welcome as Warrington, given the fact he is one of the most disliked British boxers of the past few decades. The reason for this is partly owing to his cold attitude, but mainly for having served a two-year ban for doping when he tested positive for, stanozolol, an anabolic steroid that he said was only in his system because of his jealous brother spiking him. Whatever the reason, the whole episode left Galahad abased, and his reputation forever tarnished.
The contrasting natures of either pugilist have further stoked the bad blood between the fighters; there is a genuine needle in this contest for a host of reasons. Warrington has outright labelled Galahad a cheat and proclaimed that he does not deserve to even be in the same ring as him. He has made it abundantly clear he just wants to get Galahad out of the way as his mandatory before pursuing bigger and more luxuriousfights. Galahad, on the other hand, claims Josh is overlooking him and has been merely lucky to catch two elite fighters way past their prime, making his two defining wins look better than they are.
With all the smack talk aside, both are excellent fighters, and both have different attributes which may come to fruition throughout the fight.
With all due respects to Warrington, he is not a slick and silky boxer, and he does not possess that one punch knockout power, as his record suggests. Despite this, Carl Frampton reported that he does carry the gradual power in his shots, and was one of the most hurtful punchers he has faced.
He has other attributes, though, and he has them in abundance. His work rate and his engine are as good as we have seen in a British fighter before. It allows him never to take a backwards step, subjecting constant pressure onto his opponents. His defence is very tight with the high guard stance, and this enables him to keep coming forward without copping too many shots, also forcing many of his opponents to expend a lot of energy and potentially gas out. He’s the sort of fighter, who does the basics well, very well, and has been able to use them to breakdown flasher and technically more competent boxers, as he did with Selby and Frampton, dragging them into the rough and ready wars in which he feels so comfortable.
Before the Selby and Frampton fights, Warrington has won most of his fights without getting into any serious trouble or getting hurt. It was a universal consensus that once he stepped up the gears, we would see how good he is. Most, including myself, previously predicted he would be found out when fighting at a higher level. He had two acid tests back to back and passed both with flying colours. Some will make excuses and say that Selby, one of the classiest British boxers we have seen in the last ten years, was dead at the weight, that he was not a real featherweight. They may be accurate, but Warrington was brilliant that night. Frampton himself admits he underestimated Josh and didn’t respect his power leading him to get hurt early on. While Frampton may feel that was his mistake, he is probably harsh on himself. Warrington had a game plan and executed to perfection, winning the fight comfortably. After these last two performances, which were nothing short of spectacular, it’s rather tricky to see how Warrington loses any time soon. You’d expect him to out-hustle pretty much any featherweight out there, except for the elites in the division, such as a Gary Russell maybe.
So how does Galahad manage to win?
He’s an outstanding boxer, very slick, and can be very powerful when needed, almost a mini version of Prince Naseem Hammed; a real Ingle Wincobank fighter. He’s earnt his position as mandatory with the IBF, winning all fights they have asked of him, and he has been both the British champion and a European champion before his drugs ban. The only issue is that we don’t know how good Galahad actually is, he’s a real unknown quantity given the fact he hasn’t beat anyone of note to date, so how can we judge him on this basis? There are many sparring stories in which he is said to have embarrassed top established fighters. Similarly, to the way Selby was Warrington’s first real test, this is Galahad’s. He certainly looks good, as though he has plenty of other gears, and his self-belief is there for all to see; but is that enough to beat Warrington, given that both Selby and Frampton have failed?
I don’t think so. While people will say Selby and Frampton were over the hill, way past their prime, they are two outstanding fighters, and the way Warrington dismantled them, shows me that perhaps the majority of British fighting fans were underestimating him. Perhaps, he is the real deal? I’ve underestimated Warrington twice before, and I will not make that mistake again. I’ve had no reason to think he will lose to Galahad, and I would guess he probably wins on points or perhaps even stops him late. Galahad however, will hope totake a leaf out of Warrington’s very own book and shock the public, although, given his doping past, I doubt he’ll get the acclaim and credit that has accompanied Warrington’s wins.
Regardless, there is an awful lot of unanswered questions about Galahad. How good is his chin? How is his heart? How will he cope with Warrington’s oppressive pressure? All will be answered on Saturday night, and I am looking forward to seeing how good Galahad actually is, and if Warrington can push towards the significant money unification fights at the end of the year.
By Aaron Ludford for SimBoxx
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