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Sunday, 20 January, 2019

Lee Selby should handle hostile Leeds crowd and retain world title

Josh Warrington's dream could turn into a nightmare

IBF world featherweight champion Lee Selby (left) and challenger Josh Warrington
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IBF world featherweight title 
BT Sport 1 & BoxNation, approx 10pm Saturday

Josh Warrington believes it is his destiny to win his first world title by beating IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby, but his dream could turn into a nightmare. 

It may appear that massive Leeds United fan Warrington has pulled off a bit of a coup by getting Selby to fight him at Elland Road, where he can rely on an army of fans who are perhaps more loyal and vocal than any other fighter's at domestic level. 

But along with their goodwill and encouragement those same fans will also bring an enormous amount of pressure, and it is uncertain how that will affect Warrington in by far the biggest night of his career. 

Tony Bellew faced a similar situation a couple of years ago when the Evertonian faced Ilunga Makabu in a world title fight at Goodison Park. 

Bomber said afterwards that he was crippled by nerves that night and he was nearly knocked out in the early rounds before he got his act together. 

Warrington cannot afford a bad start if he wants to be victorious as Selby, who is defending his world title for the fifth time, is too good. 

An unlikely hero from the streets of Barry in Wales, Selby has overcome a tough upbringing and more than one personal tragedy to emerge as a genuine world-class fighter.

Stevenson v Jack preview

Selby is perhaps still underrated despite being a world champion but all that could change if he beats Warrington as the winner likely to face Carl Frampton in a superfight at Windsor Park, Belfast later this summer. 

Warrington, a 7-2 underdog, could take his place if he wins, but it won't be easy. He is undefeated but doesn't have one-punch knockout power, with only six KOs from 26 wins, and will look to outwork Selby for the full 12 rounds and get the nod from the judges. 

Selby isn't the biggest puncher either but he has great ringcraft and plenty of experience in other people's backyards. He is excellent at fighting from range, and if things don't go well for Warrington early on the pressure to please the crowd could leave him vulnerable to counters from the Welsh Mayweather. 

It's possible that Warrington could be inspired to produce the performance of his life and he is sure to give it everything he has, but a more realistic outcome is that Selby delivers a professional, mature performance and wins a fairly comfortable decision. 

L Selby by decision
2pts 4-6 general

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Warrington is undefeated but he doesn't have one-punch knockout power with only six KOs from 26 wins
E.W. Terms
Sky bet