Josh Warrington defeated Joel Brunker by unanimous decision in front of his adoring hometown fans inside the First Direct Arena on Saturday.
All three judges at ringside scored the bout 120-108 in favour of Warrington, who was making the third defence of his Commonwealth title.
The capacity crowd in Leeds were treated to a fine display in slick, intelligent boxing from Warrington, who is now undefeated in 22 career fights (4 KO’s).
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To his credit, Brunker - who’s last visit to England ended with a 9th round TKO loss to the current IBF Featherweight champion, Lee Selby – came forward for as much of the fight as he could, but his straightforward style was too predictable for the classy Warrington.
The opening rounds saw Brunker on the front foot trying to apply pressure on Warrington. The Aussie, though, wasn’t landing any meaningful shots and Warrington was catching Brunker regularly with slick combinations whenever he wished.
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Brunker’s bravery was commendable, but his game plan was very simplistic. It was clear during the early rounds that his corner wanted him to constantly push Warrington on the back foot and throw a high volume of body punches. Warrington, however, was tucking his elbows effectively and blocking most of Brunker’s power punches.
In the middle rounds, Brunker was beginning to look tired, and you could hardly blame him. Warrington, still looking in fantastic condition, began to force Brunker onto the back foot with a plethora of dazzling combinations that the tough Australian was finding almost impossible to avoid.
In the final round, Warrington landed a brilliant flurry of punches to Brunker’s jaw but was unable to stop the valiant challenger.
This was a thoroughly impressive display from Warrington and the 120-108 score was well deserved. After the fight, Warrington’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, was keen to stress that his fighter should now be considered “world class”. He also earmarked a future bout between Warrington and Selby, a fight that would surely sell out Elland Road.
Warrington is clearly a very talented operator. When it comes to the crème de la crème of the Featherweight division, however, I feel as though he will struggle. There is no substitute for power, and for all of Warrington’s skill, he lacks KO power (only 4 of his victories have been via KO).
Here is a look at the current rankings in the unbelievably packed Featherweight division:
(Provided by Ring Magazine)
1. NICHOLAS WALTERS
2. VASYL LOMACHENKO (WBO Champion)
3. GARY RUSSELL JR. (WBC Champion)
4. LEO SANTA CRUZ (WBA Champion)
5. LEE SELBY (IBF Champion)
6. ABNER MARES
7. SIMPIWE VETYEKA
8. EVGENY GRADOVICH
9. JESUS CUELLAR
10. JAYSON VELEZ