Tag Archives: Josh Warrington

Something Very Special is Happening in Leeds, Sporting Capital of England – by Rob Atkinson

Just champion: Josh Warrington and Leeds United

World Champion boxer and Leeds fan extraordinaire Josh Warrington is sharing top billing right now with Leeds United as the city of Leeds re-establishes its sporting pre-eminence, putting the likes of Manchester, Liverpool and London in the shade by the sheer diversity of its competitive prowess. Warrington’s great victories against Lee Selby in May at Elland Road, and Carl Frampton the other night in Manchester neatly bracket a phenomenal first half of the Championship season for leaders Leeds United. The Whites’ sensational comeback win at Aston Villa on Sunday topped off a 23 game run in which they have shown power, guts and consistency to emerge as front runners. Unfancied United have defied the critics just as Josh Warrington has, besting two supposedly superior fighters when all the experts predicted he’d be brushed aside.

Those two phenomenal boxing performances were as bookends to the incredible renaissance of Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa in the first half of the current Championship football season. As Josh Warrington was recovering from his May demolition of Lee Selby, Bielsa was setting about putting his unique stamp on a club that had been failing, for a lack of identity and leadership, to realise its immense potential. Bielsa’s mission was to provide that leadership, create that identity, and see an underachieving club become much more than the sum of its parts. At the halfway point of the season, fresh from a defining performance at Aston Villa when the United warriors fought back from two down to clinch an unlikely victory out of extreme adversity, Leeds stand proudly top of the Championship, with a handy gap between them and the play-off pack. To describe Bielsa’s record so far as merely a success would be to make a molehill out of a mountain.

Just as Josh Warrington has succeeded against all the expert opinion that rated him as a passionate but limited fighter, so Leeds United are making a mockery of those who suggested that Bielsa’s methods could not possibly bear fruit with such a comparatively thin squad, boasting only a couple of major additions to last season’s also-rans. The major transfer acquisition of the summer, Patrick Bamford, has seen his season so far disrupted by injury, and has hardly been able to contribute to the cause. So it’s been the squad as was, plus bargain steal from Wolves Barry Douglas, supplemented by some precocious talent from the development level of the club, that has carried all before it in the league so far. What can United achieve if the injuries clear up, and if they can make some judicious purchases during the January window? It’s a question to tantalise the Whites support, which is already rubbing its eyes in delighted disbelief at the way the campaign has unfolded.

The Leeds claim to be the nation’s sporting capital is well founded. The football club has global support dating from the days when it boasted the finest club side of the post war era, a team that was respected and feared throughout Europe. The Yorkshire county cricket club is historically the best in the game as a matter of record, and the Rugby League outfit that shares Headingley is the biggest in the northern hemisphere bar none. Add in a gutsy fighter in Warrington who has worn his club colours with massive pride to become a true ambassador for the city, and it’s clear to see that Leeds has an embarrassment of sporting riches together with a vast potential to build on – and the signs are there that the building process is well under way. The revolution at Leeds United, the remarkable transformation of Headingley cricket and rugby arena and of course the fighting whirlwind that is Warrington, all combine to give the capital of West Yorkshire a growing status as the place where it’s all happening in the world of sport.

We can look ahead with some confidence now, a confidence that was only a dream prior to the big fight at Elland Road a few short months ago in May, to further progress and maybe concrete achievement in the first half of 2019. And this, of course, brings us nicely up to scratch just in time for the centenary celebrations of Leeds United, one of the truly great clubs in the English game. It’s all looking so good right now, and it’s all come about in such a short time – but the foundations are there for a new golden era across the whole City of Leeds.

With that in mind, Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything bids everybody out there, whatever their sporting allegiance, a very Merry Christmas, and the Happiest of New Years for 2019. The future, we’re confident in saying, is very bright. The future, we fervently hope and believe, is yellow, blue and white. 

Advertisements

Warrior Warrington Becomes Latest Jewel in Dominant Leeds’ Glittering Crown   –   by Rob Atkinson

Josh Warrington: MOT to the top

Leeds’ own Josh Warrington: MOT to the top

Having been fortunate enough to witness many examples of sporting excellence in Leeds over the years, I was privileged last weekend, thanks to event sponsors Grosvenor Casinos, to see local Featherweight boxer Josh Warrington provide ample evidence that Yorkshire’s premier city is arguably the sporting capital of the whole nation.

If this may seem to some rather an extravagant claim, then the facts and the statistics will speak for themselves. Leeds as a city has a track record of success, history and reputation unmatched by other less fortunate sporting centres, certainly in terms of the sheer number of mainstream sports where it can boast brand leaders. Yorkshire County Cricket Club, just this week crowned County Champions for a record thirty-third time, is based in Headingley – a part of Leeds also graced by the home of the biggest Rugby League club and that code’s finest team, in the shape of Leeds Rhinos. The Rhinos, already Challenge Cup winners, are seemingly set to sweep the board this season and have been at the forefront of Rugby League for well over a decade.

Meanwhile, across the city at Elland Road, even Leeds United are showing promising signs that they might yet return to something approaching their former, peerless glory. They provided the warm-up to the Rhinos’ Challenge Cup success with a notable win of their own at much-fancied Derby County. This was an encounter embellished by a truly brilliant late winner from new signing Chris Wood, who has hit the ground running for Leeds. The Whites are unbeaten so far this nascent football season, and are being spoken of as dark horses for promotion to the Premier League.

Great times for Leeds, then. No other city, surely, can demonstrate such a high profile across the country’s three major sports – and now, with a boxer in Warrington on the very cusp of world class, it would appear that Leeds will be adding yet another asset to its portfolio of competitive excellence. At the city’s impressive First Direct Arena last Saturday night, Warrington faced the toughest test so far of a highly promising career. It was a test he passed with flying colours as he produced a display of controlled aggression, consummate skill and relentless ferocity to outclass completely a courageous opponent in Australia’s Joel Brunker.

Brunker’s gutsy and determined performance was worthy in itself of admiration, rightly so for a fighter of high reputation who had been beaten previously only once. Brunker hung in there over the full twelve rounds, refusing to fall before a veritable barrage of attacks as Warrington mixed it up and hit the Aussie from all angles. Brunker defended doggedly and landed some telling blows of his own but, as the fight proceeded, it was plain to see that his horizons were shrinking from initial ambition to mere survival in the end. That he stayed on his feet reflected immense credit on a brave but out-classed and well beaten boxer who finished up bloodied, but defiantly unbowed.

The eventual margin was as wide as it could possibly be in the absence of any actual knock-downs. Every judge awarded every round to Warrington, who can look back upon an exceedingly efficient night’s work that promises much as he raises his sights towards world glory. After this comprehensive victory, extending his perfect professional record to 22 fights and 22 wins, Warrington – a keen fan of Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos – was looking ahead to a possible appearance at United’s Elland Road stadium as he aims to make further progress towards a world title shot. At the age of 24, he may well ultimately have the world at his feet.

Josh Warrington has adopted Marching On Together – the anthem of both Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos – as his rallying cry, and the effect on his vociferous support is palpable, certainly at an event like last weekend’s First Direct Arena boxing card. The atmosphere was magnificent, truly electric, the signature song rocking the place along with the massively self-assertive We Are Leeds. There is some keen rivalry between the local followers of football, rugby and even cricket but, in Warrington, there has appeared a unifying figure; a man of great promise who can call on the support of the whole city, so it seems, as he aims for the very highest level of achievement as a proud representative of Leeds who wears his heart on his sleeve and his colours on his back.

As competitive as boxing’s Featherweight division undoubtedly is, crammed with quality and with several durable fighters between the aspirant Leeds lad and his ultimate goal, it’d be foolish surely to bet against Josh Warrington, in his beloved favours of blue, yellow and white, one day wearing a World Title belt. If he does, it will be a matter of immense pride for followers of Leeds sport everywhere – and yet another sign were any needed that here, indeed, is a sporting city without equal.