Featherweight world champion Lee Selby and undefeated contender Josh Warrington took questions from the media at Tuesday’s final press conference days ahead of their clash for the IBF Featherweight World Title this Saturday, May 19. The main event bout from Elland Road Football Ground in Leeds, England will stream live to U.S. audiences via SHOWTIME Sports YouTube Channel and SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook Page.
The SHOWTIME BOXING INTERNATIONAL® livestream will begin at 5:00 p.m. ET/2:00 p.m. PT with coverage provided by BT Sport and BoxNation and featuring commentary by U.K. sportscasters John Rawling (blow-by-blow) and former featherweight world champion Barry Jones (analysis).
Selby (26-1, 9 KOs), of Cardiff, Wales has held the IBF Featherweight Title since 2015 when he wrested it from Evgeny Gradovich with an eighth-round TKO. He has since made four successful defenses, the latest being a unanimous decision over Eduardo Ramirez last December.
Warrington (26-0, 6 KOs), who will be fighting in his hometown of Leeds, won the British Featherweight Title in just his twelfth outing in 2012 and the Commonwealth Championship in 2013. He defeated Dennis Ceylan via stoppage in the 10th round in his last outing to earn his shot at the IBF title.
Following Carl Frampton’s victory over Nonito Donaire last month, this will be the second of four high-stakes featherweights’ fights on SHOWTIME® platforms featuring seven of the consensus top-10 ranked featherweights, including three world champions and four former multi-division champions. Also on Saturday night, WBC World Champion Gary Russell Jr. will defend his belt against Joseph Diaz live on SHOWTIME and on June 9, Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares will meet live on SHOWTIME in a highly anticipated rematch for the WBA Featherweight World Title.
The livestream of Selby vs. Warrington will precede Saturday evening’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® split-site telecast (10:05 p.m. ET/PT) that features Russell Jr. vs. Diaz from the MGM National Harbor in Maryland and WBC Light Heavyweight World Champion Adonis Stevenson defending his title against two-division world champion Badou Jack from Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Below is what Selby, Warrington and their respective trainers had to say at today’s press conference:
“I’m the world champion and a world champion should be ready and willing to defend his title anywhere in the world. It’s only five hours up the road from where I live so it’s not so much of a lion’s den to me.
“This is just another defense for me. It’s another fight. I treat every opponent the same. I don’t train for a certain style or a certain opponent. I prepare to get myself right and whatever happens that night, I know I’ve done the best I can to make myself ready.
“Some experts say that his style is going to give me a problem but other experts say his style is tailormade for me. That’s the great thing about boxing. It’s an opinionated sport.
“I’m no Muhammad Ali, I can’t predict the round I’m going to win in, but I just see myself winning. If I didn’t, then I shouldn’t be here. If you’re a professional boxer and you don’t have the determination to become a world champion, then you shouldn’t be in the game.
“Having Carl Frampton in attendance won’t be a distraction at all. But if I come out on top on Saturday, he is who I want next. I would want to go straight into that fight in Belfast.
“I’m not going to instigate an argument like he’s been doing. I’m a humble guy. He was running his mouth in the first press conference. Maybe the guys in Leeds want you to win, but the rest of the country is hoping that I win. People dislike you.”
“I’m very relaxed. We had a bit of fun at the last press conference and the interviews. I feel like I don’t need to say anything else. The past few months, I’ve put my body through hell. I give absolutely everything I have every time I go into the gym. I give 100 percent. After all the talk about me and Lee potentially fighting, it came down to this camp and I gave it everything.
“I talk a lot about destiny. A few years ago, we had the chance to fight for a world title and it didn’t come off for me, and now I have an opportunity again. With how things have gone, anything could have happened in those couple of years. Lee could have moved weight or gotten beat but it’s come around how I always dreamed it and planned it. I always wanted to fight for a world title at Elland Road and it’s here.
“I’ve dreamt about this so many times, I’m just ready to go. There’s no more need for talking. On Saturday night, I get to punch him in the face. This is beyond dreams, especially since I’ve been written off. I’m just carried on going and the fans have stuck behind me. They’re very loyal and we do this together. After Saturday night I’ll be known as Leeds’ first world champion.
“I’m able to adapt to any style. I’m known as a come-forward pressure fighter but I’ve always been able to adapt and do what I have to do to win. I’m willing to go so far. I just want this so bad. For everything I’ve been through, it all leads up to this fight. I’m going to give every ounce of energy in my body to win that world title.
“Carry on with your pictures and everything else with that belt this week, because it’s staying here pal. Once it comes here, that world title is staying.”
Tony Borg, Lee Selby’s Trainer
“Training has been first class. He’s put everything into it, he doesn’t mess around outside of the gym. His life is all boxing. Training has gone perfectly as it always does. I think a lot is being put on how he’s going to deal with this hostile crowd – he’s going to thrive on it, believe me.
“I’m not just confident, I’m 101 percent certain that Lee Selby will go out there and thrive on the hostilities. Josh is very good fighter, but Lee’s an elite fighter. He’s a level above Josh, I believe.”
Sean O’Hagan, Josh Warrington’s Trainer
“Every trainer will tell you that they’ve had the best camp ever. What I will say is that you prepare for the fight in front of you. We’re preparing for Lee specifically. This camp has been so relaxed, it’s flowed so well. There’s been no flaws. We’re all very relaxed.
“We’ve done a little bit extra sparring because Lee has a style that requires it. Let’s not forget, he’s a very good fighter. Our preparation has been so good. We’ve had really good sparring and have covered every aspect of training. We’ve done more. We’ve thought about it more. We’ve gone deeper into things. I can count on one hand the amount of times he’s been hit clean in all of the rounds we’ve done of sparring.”
SATURDAY’S FIGHT: 5:00 p.m. ET / 2:00 p.m. PT (note: start time is approximate)
Jack Bateson: “People Will Remember Me After I’ve Been And Gone!”
If Josh Warrington and Nicola Adams presently sparkle as the jewels of the welcome Leeds boxing renaissance, Horsforth super-bantam starlet Jack Bateson is a strong tip to emerge as the city’s future diamond.
The 23 year old, who makes a sixth paid start on Saturday’s stadium bonanza at the city’s Elland Road football ground, has long been vaunted as one of the nation’s premier young fighting talents.
Son of local boxing promoter Mark Bateson, this classical stylist amassed seven national junior titles, a Commonwealth Youth gold medal plus a brace of Senior ABA titles and a European Seniors bronze gong, before his teenage years were through.
‘Thus far my pro career has gone great; five fights in eight months. I stopped a couple of imports and, in the last three, I’ve been able to try new stuff out against tough lads who were much better quality,’ says
Jack the Lad, who represented England in European and World Championships at both junior and senior level. Despite his youth, the talented Tyke is already something of a master of his craft, having triumphed in over 100 of 120 scraps in a singlet.
‘I only started boxing when I were about nine because me older brother Tom packed up and I felt a bit sorry for me dad who coached him,’ disclosed Bateman who is now trained by Dad’s twin brother Martin.
‘Before I knew it, I were unbeaten in 12 and boxing for England against Ireland. I lost by a point and cried my eyes out. I never wanted to experience that pain again.
‘I’d just started a Sports degree at Bradford University when I was called up to the Team GB set-up in Sheffield. I was at GB Monday to Thursday for five years and I made some really good pals. Living in our house was Joe Cordina, Frazer Clarke, Galal Yafai, and Qais Ashfaq. I had a really good time.
‘There was always a conveyor belt of talent to talk to and study. I became very good friends with Anthony Fowler. Anthony Joshua, a really humble guy, was also there with me. Daniel Dubois and me won gold medals together at the Tammer tournament in Finland. I attended hard training camps all around the world, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia … I had experiences that you can’t buy.’
One of the few experiences Bateson didn’t get to savour, alas, was participation in the Olympic Games and it still rankles with this most polite and placid of young men.
‘I just missed out on the 2012 London at 49KG when I was only just turned 18 but I didn’t feel I got a fair opportunity for Rio (2016) when I moved up to 52KG. I was injured, Muhammad Ali got in front of me and took my place. To rub salt into the wounds, it turns out he was on steroids!
‘Ali tested positive for Trenbolone (an anabolic steroid which aids muscle growth) at a recent WSB event in Morocco and, to me, he got off lucky with a two-year ban. We sparred thousands of rounds at GB and he was always massive for the weight. I’m a bit bitter that we didn’t have a box off before he was selected for the Olympic qualifiers as I’d previously beaten him in two of our three bouts. We were due to box again at the GB Championships but he conveniently pulled out with a ‘cut’.
Still, I’m very thankful for all the opportunities I had. The big amateur tournaments put you into ‘uncomfortable zones’. Day after day, you’d be facing fellow national champions without knowing who you’d be drawn against. You’d have to be capable of adapting to so many different styles, very quickly.’
The skilled and speedy slickster is now devoting his considerable ability and energy to the professional sphere where he hopes to acquire the major international trinkets that eluded him as an amateur.
‘I’ve always been extremely dedicated,’ says Bateson who confronts one Jose Hernandez, a third successive Spanish based Nicaraguan, over four rounds this weekend.
‘Though I’m right-handed, I’m a natural switcher, as good southpaw as I am orthodox. Some of my natural attributes and qualities were taken away by the GB coaches but I’m back with my Dad and uncle and they’ve been restored. Now I’m a different animal!
‘All I see ahead is world titles, topping bills at Elland Road, doing my city proud. People will remember me after I’ve been and gone.’
General admission tickets for Selby v Warrington are available from just £40 per person.
Tickets are available to purchase online via the club’s official website www.leedsunited.com and via the Leeds United Ticket Office on 0371 334 1992