Josh Warrington will be looking to win back the belt he never actually lost when he faces Kiko Martinez for the IBF Featherweight title at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on Saturday evening.
Recommended bet10:00 pm Saturday March 26
Kiko Martinez v Josh Warrington IBF Featherweight Title Boxing Betting Tips & Predictions
Leeds fighter Josh Warrington is a former IBF featherweight champion of the world – and he never actually lost his title.
He won the belt in 2018 when he claimed a split points decision over Lee Selby at Elland Road. He then went on to have three title defences.
He beat Ireland superstar Carl Frampton in a unanimous decision, he then defeated Kid Galahad on points before stopping Sofiane Takoucht in the second round.
Warrington was on top of the world, and he wanted the big fights now. But there was a spanner in the works.
The IBF ordered Warrington to face mandatory challenger Galahad for a second bout, but Warrington felt he had bigger fish to fry. He opted to vacate the belt and set up a bout against Mauricio Lara.
That is when things started to go wrong. Warrington was obliterated inside nine rounds by Lara in London. Warrington had no answer to the big-hitting Mexican and was soundly beaten.
That didn’t sit well with the Yorkshireman. He wanted revenge. He faced Lara again – this time in Leeds at Headingley. It ended up being a damp squib as a clash of heads saw Lara cut above his left eye. The cut was that bad, the fight was called off and declared a technical draw.
What was next for Warrington?
Everyone thought that despite dropping his belt to avoid Galahad, those two would soon be fighting again as Galahad had a chance to be crowned IBF champion when he was set to face Martinez in Sheffield.
Galahad was expected to win – it’s safe to say that. He was dominating the fight until Martinez caught Galahad in the sixth and was crowned world champion at the age of 35.
Martinez, now 36, will put his title on the line against Warrington in Leeds. This will be the second time these two have fought. Warrington won by majority decision when these two clashed in 2017 at the same venue they will be at on Saturday.
Martinez is a decent fighter, but he is not on Warrington’s level. The Yorkshireman will be determined to get in the ring and take all his frustrations out on the Spaniard.
Warrington feels he should be further down the line in his career in terms of fighting the stars of the division, so I am backing him to come out and blast Martinez away and snatch his title back.
Warrington will want to impress. I am backing him to spark Martinez out in the fifth round and be world champion again.
Recommended bet10:00 pm Saturday March 26
Kiko Martinez v Josh Warrington IBF Featherweight Title: Fighter’s Tips & Predictions
Josh Warrington on former Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa. “It would have been an absolutely huge honour to have him there on Saturday.
“But I’ve nowt for him to carry this time, he’d just be walking out alongside me. But if I was to win the belt it’d be a huge honour to have him there next time.
“Just to have him back and give him a proper send-off, whether it meant him getting in the ring before or after the fight, it would be brilliant, so let’s see what happens.”
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