Josh Warrington became the new IBF featherweight world champion by upsetting Lee Selby in a split-decision victory. The bout was streamed live to U.S. audiences via the SHOWTIME Sports YouTube Channel and SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook Page from Elland Road Football Ground in Leeds, U.K. The judges scored the bout 116-112, 115-113 and 113-115.
Warrington (27-0, 6 KOs), from Leeds, used the energy of the home crowd and established control of the fight from the onset. He was the more aggressive fighter, catching Selby with a clean left hook to the jaw and an equally powerful right hand in the second round. In the same round, Selby, who was making the fifth defense of the IBF title that he earned in 2015, suffered a substantial cut above his left eye from an accidental headbutt. The cut would plague him for the remainder of the fight. In the middle rounds, Warrington continued the barrage to the head of Selby, who was taken to the corner in the sixth round for inspection after a second accidental headbutt but was allowed to continue.
Selby (26-2, 9 KOs), of Cardiff, Wales, showed the experience and skills that made him champion in the later rounds despite the blood flowing down his face. He was able to regain his composure, establish his jab and land several impressive combinations, doing enough to earn the win in the eyes of one judge. But in the eyes of Warrington, who becomes Leeds’ first ever world champion, it was clear who the victor was.
“I can’t put into words how I feel. I got into the ring tonight with the expectation of the city on my shoulders,” said Warrington. “I outboxed the boxer tonight.
“I’m overcome with emotion. We worked on gameplans but that all went out of the window and it was sheer grit and determination and this crowd got me through tonight.”
Following Carl Frampton’s victory over Nonito Donaire last month, Warrington’s victory was the second of four high-stakes featherweights’ fights in quick succession 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. defends 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.