In the weeks leading up to the fight, Josh Warrington (27-0, 6 KOs) promised his hometown support a world champion and on Saturday night he delivered at Elland Road Football Ground in Leeds, England, dethroning Wales’ IBF world champion Lee Selby (26-2, 9 KOs) by a split decision by tallies of 115-113 Selby, 115-113, 116-112 Warrington.
In a bloody contest, Warrington produced a superb display to take the title away from Selby who was attempting to make his sixth defence.
“I had great expectation on me from the city, but the roar of the crowd kept pushing me on,” said Warrington afterward.
Selby looked to gain control of the first round but found the challenger was up to the task at hand, Warrington ripping in some solid hooks before a nasty cut appeared over the left eye of the champion from an unintentional headbutt.
It spurred both men on to give a spirited effort after the second, enticing us all with toe to toe action, the onslaught thereafter but it was the challenger who was gaining a foothold in the bout, undeterred he waded forward with 20,000 Yorkshire men cheering his every move.
Into the fourth, Selby tried to establish his work to the body but Warrington was not to be denied, combating the tactic by throwing flurries of shots mixed with the pressure that the champion was having difficulty dealing with.
Another clash of heads left Selby with a cut over his right eye but it was the left eye that seemed to be the more problematic, the ringside physician was called in but the fight was cleared to go ahead.
The sixth had Selby seemingly holding on after a solid left hook landed but after the middle rounds, Warrington didn’t look as mobile, slowing the tempo enough to allow Selby to push the pace.
The champion enjoyed his best rounds in the eighth and ninth rounds and closed strongly but the damage had already been done, the hometown crowd knew it, as we all did, Warrington’s hand was raised to a rumbustious roar from the Leeds faithful.
“I outboxed the boxer tonight,” Warrington said “I told Frampton I’m going to beat Selby, then I’ll come to Windsor Park, we love an away day, us Leeds boys.”