This Saturday, Josh Warrington returns once more to the First Direct Arena in Leeds, in what will be the third defence of his IBF Featherweight Title against one Sofiane Takoucht. When announced, the fight was met with a subdued reaction by the boxing community, I myself cannot pretend I had any idea who Takoucht was prior.
The Frenchman’s resume reads 35-3-1 and is littered with some of the most forgettable names in boxing. The standout fights are a MD win over former European Champion Sergio Prado, and a UD loss against Guillaume Frenois, who drew with Jono Carroll and was beaten comfortably by IBF Super Featherweight champ, Tevin Farmer. These fights being the highlights of his record tells you everything you need to know about Saturday’s bout; it isn’t a suitable match for a headline World Title fight.
That isn’t a dig at Josh Warrington and nor is it his fault. I think he has done tremendously well, and I am a fan. His wins over Selby and Frampton, which not many predicted, were superb, and succeeded in bringing him the plaudits he deserved for such monumental wins. The close fight against Galahad was a bit of a stinker, and rightly did get a fair bit of criticism, but to Warrington’s credit, he was the one trying to make things happen. The issue was Galahad was too elusive; he didn’t want to engage in a fist fight, but point score, the exact kind of contest Warrington despises. Despite the controversy, Josh got the win, got his mandatory done and out the way, leaving him to focus on procuring the top fights in his division.
Warrington should be fighting the likes of Santa Cruz, Gary Russell, Oscar Valdes or perhaps an Abner Mares. For one reason or another, these fights can’t be made, with Santa Cruz and Russell either fighting each other or moving up to Super Feather, Valdes also moving up to Super Feather and Mares potentially retiring. I believe Josh wanted those kinds of fights, and I believe Frank Warren would have also wanted them, but sadly, I can’t see where the next big fight will come from for Warrington. If the big fights are not there to be made, a fighter still needs a dance partner, and this need leads us to Saturday’s contest.
It may turn out to be an enthralling fight. Warrington loves to use pressure, come forward and fight. More often than not this brings out the best/worst of an opponent, who may choose to fight fire with fire, like Frampton did, which leads to a typically entertaining contest. If Takoucht tries to match Warrington, it will be exciting while it lasts, but I would imagine Warrington would be too strong and take a stoppage victory, or a comfortable points win.
I might be wrong, and have completely under-estimated Takoucht, given the fact I have never seen him fight before. He could turn out to be a ferocious warrior and may give Warrington the fight of his life. Warrington may even have underestimated him, something we have seen on many an occasion in boxing recently. I hope that will not be the case, and I highly doubt it will be.
This fight isn’t what intrigues me for Warrington, it’s what’s next? If he does win as I would expect, he may have to rematch Galahad, who will fight Claudio Marrero for the mandatory position. Whilst many thought Galahad did enough to nick that fight, we can all agree it was as exciting as watching paint dry, and I certainly have no desire to see it again. Aside from Galahad, with the names mentioned previously looking to move up and vacate, there are no big fights for Warrington in this division as far as I can see. Potentially a unification with Shakur Stevenson if he wins the WBO title Valdez has vacated, however Stevenson will need to win that and defend it before fighting Warrington. That could happen in over a year, which would leave Warrington to take more uninspiring fights like this one against Takoucht, and to be honest, Warrington deserves better. Much better.
His best hope would be for a Featherweight season of the Super Series, where he could get paid handsomely and pick up some of the other titles that will soon be vacant. The only issue is what other marquee names would be in that division to enter, as I can’t see many. A question better directed to Kalle Sauerland.
One thing I have to note, is the fight and undercard is particularly uninspiring, another instalment in a series of disappointing Warren cards. I’m not sure where Frank plans to go toward the end of this year and next, especially with the losses of Liam Smith and Billy-Joe Saunders, but it’s clear to say his BT venture isn’t going quite so well. I like Frank, and he has done a lot for British boxing, but he doesn’t have many shows scheduled in, and if you compare it to the upcoming Matchroom schedule, it is clear to see Frank is struggling. I hope that is remedied, because the more high-quality boxing available to the British public, the better.
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