Central boxer wins title belt

Batley boxers Gary Sykes and Josh Warrington
Batley boxers Gary Sykes and Josh Warrington

THE Central Boxing Club in Batley has a new champion after Josh Warrington claimed the English featherweight title by beating Wolverhampton’s Chris Male in Dudley last Friday.

Warrington produced arguably the best performance of his 13 fight career to outpoint home favourite Male over 10 three-minute rounds.

Although Warrington comes from Leeds, he has based himself at the Central Boxing Club, where he is trained by dad Sean O’Hagen, and has received assistance from John Tallant, Mark Hurley and Julian McGowan.

Warrington said: “The people at Central have taken me in and I really appreciate it. John, Julian and Mark have really helped and the lads that go to the Tuesday and Thursday training sessions have supported me.

“John’s strength and conditioning work was a massive help. We were stepping up for a 10-rounder, which is more than I have been used to, but it gave me a different approach and I felt myself getting stronger and fitter all the time.”

Warrington was backed by around 80 supporters who travelled to the West Midlands last Friday, while Dewsbury’s Gary Sykes was also ringside to cheer on his gym mate.

He added: “It was great to have Gary supporting me. I told Gary after the fight that he had been an inspiration to me and I am sure he can get back up there and win the British title again. A few lads from the Central went down with Gary, which was brilliant.

“I was in the kid’s backyard and he had three quarters of the support at the venue but my fans made up the other quarter, which made for a great atmosphere.

“We were both unbeaten fighters and he wanted it as much as I did and it made for a great fight.”

It proved to be an early birthday present for Warrington, who turned 22 on Wednesday, as he was given the verdict by two rounds on one judge’s card and by a wider margin on the other two and he is now hoping to defend the title in his home city of Leeds, where he is likely to earn a big following from Leeds United fans.

He added: “A mate of mine has been in touch with Paul Dews (Leeds United press officer) and it would be brilliant if I could walk out at Elland Road with the belt.

“There were a few Leeds songs coming out at ringside last Friday and it would be great to box at somewhere like Leeds Town Hall and walk into the ring to Marching On Together.

“Leeds fans pull together and I’ve had quite a few new followers on Twitter since the win.

“It is a case of taking things one step at a time. If a shot at the British title came up I would take it with both hands, but there is no rush as I’m still young.

“The aim is to get to British and then European level but I’m only just 22 and will look to defend the English title early next year.”