ONLY a couple of flights of stairs and a short walk separate the Elland Road Banqueting Suite, where Josh Warrington boxed an early-career four-rounder, and the centre spot of the famous old stadium where he was eventually crowned world champion. But the journey was a precarious, nine-year-long tightrope walk for the 28-year-old Yorkshireman.
The 12-month anniversary of his coronation as IBF featherweight king passed less than a month ago and now Warrington finds himself about to navigate the most difficult and dangerous part of any high-wire act. The rope sags and sways and, suddenly, the finishing point is closer than the start. At the moment at which concentration and focus need to be at their highest, it is only natural that the welcome sight of the target drawing closer dominates thoughts rather than the next important step.
Get past Kid Galahad this weekend and Warrington’s dream of finishing his career with a string of transatlantic trips and unification fights will loom large. A stumble would be fatal to those hopes.