Neither are the most obvious of fighters to be involved in verbal warfare, but Josh Warrington and Lee Selby evidently have a way of getting under one another’s skin.
Warrington has been calling for the fight for some time, and has slowly improved as he’s climbed up the rankings and through the levels. Meanwhile Selby has been keeping busy, desperately trying not to take his eyes off the prize as he waits a defining night.
Since endearing himself to the public when winning the IBF Featherweight strap in dominant fashion, the Welshman has yet to really push on, and one worries that the electric skills have been going to waste since his 2015 crowning.
He has fought just 5 times since, and only once has finished the fight within the scheduled distance. And opposition has not been stellar when you consider the talent that surrounds him at Featherweight.
Now Selby 26-1(9KO’s) is in his opponents’ backyard, as Elland Road hosts Warrington’s first bid at a world title.
Last time out, Warrington 26-0(6KO’s) took apart unbeaten Dennis Ceylan before stopping him in 10, and will look to draw from battles with Kiko Martinez and Hisashi Amagasa when he challenges the faster Selby.
Over the last few years, it feels like the gap between the two is shrinking. This battle was once firmly a fight that Selby was favoured, but now the odds are shifting, and the feeling that Selby has been sitting on the fence too long against lesser opposition has done him no good whatsoever.
If at 31-years old, Selby can still rekindle his finest form, then his accurate, sharp counters from long range will keep Warrington off balance for much of the night. For all Warrington’s work rate, if he is out of punching range and being consistently peppered by jabs and right crosses, then he has little chance of truly imposing his will on this fight.
But the feeling is that everything will go right on the night for Warrington as he is roared on following a sloppy start from both men. It will be a wake-up call for Selby in a fight that is packed full of drama. And a dramatic fight heavily favours the challenger.
Selby – and many observers – will feel that the champion – with his cleaner work and better connect percentage – has done enough to hang on to his title, but the bustling energy of Warrington that is greeted with constant noise will sway at least two of the judges to award Warrington with a surprise victory.