JOSH WARRINGTON was tagged the ‘boxing tooth fairy’ when he worked as a dental technician, but his dreams came true by becoming a two-time World champion.
When he turned professional boxing in 2009 on manager Steve Wood’s small hall shows, few expected him to go beyond British title level. Now he is a double World title holder after dethroning IBF Featherweight champion Kiko Martinezin Leeds in March 2022.
He overcame his old rival in seven rounds overcoming a broken hand sustained in round three and a broken jaw that happened moments before his stoppage win. Unfortunately, Warrington’s second reign was short-lived when he dropped a majority decision against Mexican mandatory challenger Luis Alberto Lopez in December 2022 when a sluggish start cost him.
Despite that loss, he has set his sights on a third World title and can still be proud of how he bounced back from a shock loss to Mexican puncher Mauricio Lara in February 2021. Their rematch seven months later ended in a technical draw and it remains to be seen if and when they fight for a third time. Warrington’s first became IBF champion in May 2018 when he upset Welshman Lee Selby at Elland Road.
More than 25,000 fans packed into the home of his beloved Leeds United hoping to witness something special against Selby, and the fervent crowd were treated to huge performance from their hero and an upset just as big.
Warrington set the pace and never gave the defending champion a moment’s respite and after 12 action packed rounds he was the deserved winner. It was also voted IBF Fight of the Year. It was one of boxing’s great memories of last year with Josh collapsing to knees after winning and being serenaded by the Kaiser Chiefs who played live.
Despite that stunning performance, Warrington was written off by many when he made his first defence against Carl Frampton at Manchester Arena in December 2018. The contest had Fight of the Year potential and lived up to all expectations with Frampton never truly recovering from a shelling at the fists of Warrington in the opening two rounds. At the end of 12 ferocious rounds, Warrington clearly came out on top after an unforgettable 36 minutes of brutality.
He was the underdog in both Selby and Frampton fights, but was fancied to see off mandatory challenger Kid Galahad at First Direct Arena, Leeds in June 2019. It was a hard night for both and on a razor’s edge, but Warrington showed his mettle when it mattered and deservedly edged a split decision. Unbeaten Warrington has just eight inside the distance successes in his 31 wins, but two-weight world champion Frampton insists he has never been hit harder.
A few months later Frenchman Sofiane Takoucht was blown away inside two rounds, in a powerhouse performance. Boxing politics then kicked off a horror period in his career.
The IBF refused to sanction a showdown with WBA regular champion Can Xu and ordered a Galahad rematch. Josh and his team decided to relinquish and press ahead with a Xu fight in February 2021, but that fell through and he took a keep busy fight against Lara behind closed doors at Wembley Arena.
It was an awful night, and although no excuses were offered. Warrington was a shadow of the man who was conquering the division. He was dropped in round four by the heavy handed Mexican and when he was floored again in the ninth, referee Howard Foster called stopped the fight. The setback was a sledgehammer blow, but Warrington demanded a rematch and then he was cruelly robbed of a potential win.
With crowds now allowed 20,000 fans packed into Headingley rugby ground for the return in September 2021 and Josh started well.
His chances of glory ended when a accidental clash of heads caused a X-rated cut above Lara’s eye, and after a doctor’s inspection at the end of round two the fight was ended on medical advise. Because four rounds had not been completed it meant the fight must be ruled a technical draw.
Josh’s big breakthrough came in November 2013 when he was booked in the away corner to fight local man Samir Mouneimne in Hull for the vacant Commonwealth crown and stopped his rival in round 12.
He was soon headlining shows at Leeds Arena and getting great experience beating fringe contenders like Joel Brunker and Hisashi Amagasa. Warrington craved a world title shot and when he signed a promotional deal with Frank Warren in 2017, the Hall of Fame promoter made that promise Warren stuck to his word and delivered Josh’s world title wins and three defences, but just before coronavirus landed on the world, the boxer returned to former promoter Hearn. Away from boxing, Warrington who is trained by his father, Sean O’Hagan is a rabid Leeds United fan and attends most home matches and many away games.
He lives on the outskirts of Leeds with his wife Natasha and their twins, Eliza and Olivia who were born in the run-up to the Selby fight. Natasha is a trained chef and takes care of his diet in the build-up to his major fights. When he left school he considered joining the Marines, but his father helped him land a job as a dental technician so he had a solid career to fall back on if his boxing life faltered. Such is his popularity there is also a documentary ‘Fighting For A City’ which followed Josh for two years before the Selby fight.
31-2–1 (1 KOs)