HOW do new world champions celebrate? Days after winning the IBF featherweight title from Lee Selby in a crowded Elland Road stadium in his home city, Josh Warrington is still taking it all in. “I just got a tour of Emmerdale studios and now I’m sitting in Five Guys,” the Leeds man laughed. “I haven’t really had time… I don’t think it’s really sunk in what we’ve achieved and what we’ve accomplished. What can I say? I’m still on cloud nine. I’m feeling like it’s just happened. I haven’t really come back to earth, let it sink in what I’ve actually done.”
Although Warrington had home advantage, he was a significant underdog against Selby. He had some doubts, that melted away when it was time to fight. “I always keep a diary of how the training camp’s gone, I’ve done that for four years. I had a little look to see if we’d worked hard enough. We’d worked for 18 weeks,” he said. “I was in camp since January more or less. [When his child was born] I had a week off and then straight back in to pick up where we left off. Towards the back end my dad was holding me back from sessions, he was saying you’re fit enough now… He just didn’t want me to overcook or overdo it and that’s when I started questioning whether I needed to do more. When [I thought] we should have been pushing on, he was pulling me back. Now I look back on it, it was probably the right thing to do at the time. When we went over the gameplan, it was constantly working on how we were going to approach the fight, how we were going work on his style and if he did this how we would be able to adapt. I’m pretty happy with the way everything went.”
He continued, “To honest with you [on the night] I was more relaxed than I ever have been. Of all the times I’ve been in the arena, all the fights I’ve had coming through, I should have been probably more nervous than I ever have been. But I wasn’t. If you had put a heart rate monitor on me as I walked to the ring, it would probably have been a resting heart rate. I was that calm. I think because I’d been working up to this moment for so long against Lee, fighting at Elland Road, ever since that fight’s been made I’ve been able to picture myself fighting there and visualise the fight then. A couple of times in fight week, I went down and had a little look and we got to know where my walk was going to be. Little things like that help steady the nerves beforehand, are calming.”
Warrington also resisted getting swept up in the occasion. “I got in the ring, the Kaiser Chiefs finished I Predict a Riot and as soon as he got in the ring, I focused on him. I was probably the most focused calm I’ve ever been,” Josh said. “I think that showed during the fight, the way he was pressing sometimes to make a fight of it and I was staying patient.
“I think if anything if I did lose it a bit, I felt like I had him hurt and I could have pushed on for a stoppage. I got a bit reckless at times.”
With the world title Warrington is in a good position. His next move will be an interesting one. “The Carl Frampton fight is very appetising. A fight with Carl would be massive and people will start looking at me now as I’ve got a good chance in that fight, whereas before if you’d mentioned me and Carl, people would laugh at me. I think we’ve shown something. Shown we’re capable of mixing it with anybody. With a performance like that at the weekend, I’ve always believed in myself, but I think people are starting to believe I can beat anybody. There’s lots of options to look at. But first things first, I want to have a week off and just be a dad for a week,” Josh said.
“I saw him [Frampton] when I was down at the BT Tower, Frank Warren had a press conference and went and congratulated him on his win against Nonito Donaire. He sat on the fence a little bit in who’s going to win out of me and Lee. I said it’s alright to have that opinion but he’s getting it and I said after that I’d like to come to Windsor Park. Listen, it doesn’t phase me, travelling. I would go to Windsor Park. I don’t know if August 12 might be too soon. But I’ll travel. Then you’ve got the other thing, Windsor Park only holds 20,000. We had over 20,000 in there on the weekend. If Carl came to Elland Road a lot of his Irish fans would travel. We could have 40,000 at Elland Road then it would be a bigger spectacle.
“I feel like I’ve just gone from a man where his back’s against the wall and it all comes down to this fight. Now all of a sudden I feel like a man in a room with lots of different doors and paths I can take. It’s funny how one fight can change your position.”