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Thursday 21 March 2019

Underdog Josh shocks Framp'

Leeds fan Warr's too strong for Frampton

CLOSE QUARTERS: Carl Frampton (right) in action against Josh Warrington during their IBF World Featherweight title bout at the Manchester Arena on Saturday. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
CLOSE QUARTERS: Carl Frampton (right) in action against Josh Warrington during their IBF World Featherweight title bout at the Manchester Arena on Saturday. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Josh Warrington upset the odds once again as he retained his IBF featherweight title after getting the better of Carl Frampton in a bruising 12-round battle.

The pair engaged in one of the contenders for fight of the year but Warrington, an underdog with the bookmakers despite having been so impressive against Lee Selby in May, largely came out on top in the exchanges at the Manchester Arena.

Warrington was awarded a unanimous decision by two scores of 116-112 and one of 116-113 in the first defence of his world title as he extended his unbeaten professional record to 27-0 on Saturday night.

"He won the fight fair and square," said Frampton. "I came here, had trained hard and was sharp but the better man won and I hope he goes on to unify the division.

"It was just not my night. I was fit and strong but Josh was fitter and stronger. I was hurt a number of times. When people say Josh cannot punch, I don't know what they are talking about. I didn't estimate but he was even better than I thought - he can punch hard."

When asked about his boxing future, Frampton admitted he will have decisions to make in the coming days and stated: "I will have to sit down with my team. I've got a young family at home and I've been in this game a long time. I have to sit down with my team and figure out the next move."

Meanwhile, Warrington paid tribute to Frampton as he recorded a stunning victory.

"First of all, I want to say a big thank you to this man in the ring, I've always been a fan, it's just business tonight," he said. "The fans made a cracking atmosphere and I'm looking forward to Christmas turkey now.

"Carl Frampton will go down as one of the best champions in history and it was an honour to share the ring with him.

"He's a two-weight world champion and you've got to be clever with a thinking fighter like Carl. I kept coming at him and I hit him with some corker shots and he took them well. He's a tough man."

Victory completes a superb year for Warrington, who walked to the ring alongside Leeds United captain Liam Cooper, as he followed up his surprise win over Selby at his beloved Elland Road with another incredible display here to thrill the crowd.

Frampton, perhaps, shaded the support when the fighters walked to the ring but it was Warrington's fans who were singing loudest by the end of the clash.

A subdued opening minute gave no indication of the fireworks to follow, Warrington lighting the touch paper for a staggering firefight in which Frampton teetered backwards after a left hook.

He recovered well but was reeling once again as Warrington barrelled forward and this time a right hook seemed to unsteady his opponent, who covered up as the Yorkshireman swung lefts and rights with abandon.

Once again though, Frampton soaked up the pressure -although the sustained assault left him with a small cut under his left eye.

But Frampton showed all his ringcraft, landing a punishing right hook before spending most of the next two rounds boxing beautifully on the back foot, using his jab well to keep Warrington off balance.

Warrington, however, came on strong at the end of the fourth and then enjoyed the better of another toe-to-toe exchange in the fifth before Frampton soaked up another barrage in the next round after being caught on the ropes.

Frampton was boxing well at a distance but was being overpowered at close quarters and looked to be wobbled in the seventh before the pair engaged in another frenetic slugfest in the eighth - both fighters landing stinging blows.

The crowd was enraptured by the pulsating drama unfolding as an excellent one-two and uppercut from Warrington seemed to give him the edge in the ninth.

Several combinations in the 10th found their way through the tight guard of Frampton, who had been targeting the body, before both fighters swung wildly once more to end another absorbing round. Warrington seemed the fresher of the two as the fight entered the final two rounds and his fans were the more vocal as a deafening chant of 'Marching on Together' rang around the venue midway through the 11th.

Warrington closed the 11th with several furious one-twos and the fighters embraced before the start of the final round, the respect for each other palpable.

An accidental head clash in the final round gave Frampton a sizeable bump on his forehead and he was the more marked up at the end of the 12 rounds, leaving little doubt to who was the winner at the final bell.

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