Josh Warrington believes his hometown fans have a massive part to play on Saturday night as he faces Dennis Tubieron for the vacant WBC International Featherweight Championship in an official World title eliminator at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, live on Sky Sports.
Warrington is aiming to continue his unstoppable rise to the top having landed the Commonwealth, British and European titles in a remarkable 18 month period, and the Leeds star is gunning for more on Saturday night.
Victory over Filipino Tubieron – who drew for the same title they boxed for in his last action in December – would see Warrington make great strides in the WBC to go with his number eight ranking in the IBF.
The 24 year old fights in his First Direct Arena fortress for the third time inside a year and in front of his biggest crowd yet. Warrington destroyed Davide Diele in front of over 7,000 fans in October, but with Saturday just a handful of tickets away from being a 10,000 sell-out, Warrington expects the roof to come off when he enters the ring.
“The Leeds crowd are very passionate of their own,” said Warrington. “They just see a lad from the estate who gives it his all and they want to get behind that. I speak to some of the lads when I go dropping tickets off and we just talk about Leeds and they say ‘we’re right behind you, you’re doing the city proud and putting Leeds on the map’. It’s good to hear that and I think they can relate to me being a lad from the estate who goes down Elland Road on a Saturday.
“When you walk out and you’ve got that many fans behind you can’t help but buzz off it. I remember last time here before the fight I was standing behind the doors and it was the calm before the storm. The doors opened and there’s people hanging over bannisters and they’re slavering, ‘come on Josh, come on’ and I’d not even walked to the ring yet. I just had a little glance up and I thought ‘wow, there’s some numbers here’ and I looked at my old man and he turned around to me and he said ‘you know what, enjoy yourself but as soon as you get in that ring you listen to me’.
“I walked to the ring against Diele and I couldn’t believe it. I was using the energy from the crowd and I think that’s what you do, using the atmosphere and you can’t get tired because you’ve got that many people shouting your name and you find the energy to throw punches for them as well as yourself but the main thing is you’ve got to keep your discipline in there and you can’t get carried away when they shout.
“I also think it can help when opponents come over. I think the last fight Dieli got spooked, I watched it back on TV and when he’s walking to the ring he’s looking up at the crowd, you see it in his eyes and when he gets in the ring and his corner is facing the crowd and he don’t want to look up, he keeps putting his head down and I think that’s his distraction and I think that played a part that night.
“Tubieron has boxed at higher level. I was speaking to Paulie Malignaggi’s trainer a few weeks ago and he’d heard of him, he said he’d seen him sparring over in America and knows he’s got a high work rate. It’s a massive opportunity for him, guys that come out of the Philippines are fighting for their lives so they never just come over for a walkover, and give it their all.
“I know I’ve got to be on my game because we are stepping up in level. I’ve got to show I can be at this level and can go beyond. I’m looking to put a good performance on and looking to get the win because I know that keep on winning big things are to come for myself and Leeds.”
Warrington’s clash with Tubieron is part of a big night of action in Leeds with a tasty rematch between Martin J. Ward and Maxi Hughes, this time for the vacant WBC International Super-Featherweight Championship.
Tyrone Nurse was set to challenge Chris Jenkins for the vacant British Light Welterweight title but unfortunately Jenkins has been forced out through illness – Nurse is still set to fight for a title on the bill, with news to follow as soon as possible.
Elsewhere on the bill, there is action for Leeds’ British Light Heavyweight champion Bob Ajisafe gets eight-round action, unbeaten Prizefighter champion Jono Carroll, Scotland’s Commonwealth Games gold medallist Callum Johnson, Brixton’s Cruiserweight prospect Isaac Chamberlain, Leeds’ Middleweight Reece Cartwright and Hull Light Welterweight Carl Chadwick.
Extremely limited tickets remain priced £30 and £40 from the First Direct Arena on 0844 248 1585 and at www.firstdirectarena.com.