Josh Warrington beats Carl Frampton to retain IBF world featherweight title in Manchester.
Inside a deafening Manchester Arena, many miles from home, Carl Frampton was swallowed up by a vicious Yorkshire typhoon as Josh Warrington tamed the Jackal in an all-British fight for the ages.Over 12 pulsating rounds, fought at a remarkable pace, Warrington and Frampton went to war, roared on by a frenetic crowd barely given a moment to breathe.
In the end, it was Warrington who overwhelmed and overpowered his Northern Irish rival to cement his reputation as the best featherweight in the country.What say now those who doubted the IBF champion, those who branded him one dimensional, those who said he would be shown up by truly elite fighter?
Instead, as the clock neared midnight on Saturday after a scrap of savagery and skill, it was only the thousands of travelling Leeds fans inside this neutral corner of the North West who could be heard.
Make no mistake: Warrington is a serious player in this quality-packed division.
No featherweight in the world would want a dose of his relentless ferocity.
It was Ricky Hatton who lit up this arena in years gone by and on Saturday night Warrington wrote his own chapter of history with a display of similar aggression and class.Within the first couple of minutes Frampton was caught in a whirlwind of shots and, though he regained a foothold as the fight wore on, he could find no answer.
The Northern Irishman more than played his part in a domestic dust-up to rival the best of years gone by.
But Warrington said it was his time and so it proved.
Veteran promoter Frank Warren labelled it ‘the best title fight I have ever seen in a British ring’ and Frampton nodded as the scores of 116-113 and 116-12 (twice) gave the underdog victory. The right man had won but there were no losers in this early Christmas cracker.
For the Leeds man, unification clashes against the likes of Oscar Valdez and Leo Santa Cruz await.
There will be no shortage of calls for a rematch but will Frampton, who hinted this could be the end of his amazing career, want any more of that?
‘The better man won, as simple as that,’ the Jackal admitted afterwards. ‘It just wasn’t my night… Josh is very strong.’
‘Whoever said Josh can’t punch doesn’t know what they’re talking about… he’s much better than I thought he was.’These are two of Britain’s most loyally supported fighters and on Saturday both brought fervent support to this North West No Man’s Land.
The atmosphere reached fever pitch at the opening bell and it took barely a minute for the fight to explode as both men let their hands go in a frenzy and Frampton was sent stumbling across the ring.
As expected, Warrington was the aggressor, but with only six knockouts to his name, the power of his shots seemed to surprise Frampton, whose eyes widened as the size of the task began to dawn.
The Jackal was game for a scrap and showed little of the slick counter punching that took him to world titles at two weights.
Again in the second he was shaken to his boots by a huge hook and the Northern Irishman looked ready to go as Warrington continued the onslaught, urged on by his corner.
Frampton survived but he could not defuse the onrushing Warrington. He was being bullied in close by the bigger man and as the fight entered the second half, the Jackal had a mountain to climb.The Northern Irish contingent tried to rally their man and he enjoyed some success in rounds seven and eight.
But the champion was not to be deterred.
The Jackal had laughed off Warrington’s warnings of a knockout before the fight but it was his punches that were having little effect as we entered the home stretch.
In the final three minutes, though well ahead on the scorecards, Warrington still piled forward and let his hands go. And come the final bell the two men embraced, a pained smile etched across Frampton’s face.
He knew it, the Manchester Arena knew it. This unforgettable night belonged to Warrington.