‘The Leeds Warrior’ Josh Warrington makes the third defence of his IBF featherweight title on Saturday night in front of his home crowd at the First Direct Area, taking on little known French challenger Sofiane Takoucht (35-3-1).
This isn’t the opponent the fans would have chosen, but keeps Warrington busy as he builds towards a unification fight.
Josh Warrington has to be one of the UK’s most improved fighters over the past two years and much of that credit should go to his father and trainer Sean O’Hagan. He has navigated his way from the man Eddie Hearn ‘could do nothing with’ to one of the UK’s most prominent fighters since joining forces with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren.
Warrington, fresh off a controversial win over Sheffield-based Kid Galahad in June, returns to the ring taking on the French number one featherweight Sofiane Takoucht. You’d be forgiven for not being familiar with Takoucht, who in his 16-year career has only fought outside of France on two occasions, and that only a short trip to Belgium.
Takouch is currently ranked number four in the IBF rankings (I don’t know how either) so on paper doesn’t seem like a poor defence and Frank Warren will keep reminding you of that.
But, Takouch, in reality has operated at such a low level, you can only see this being an easy night’s work for Warrington. It’s perhaps a pass you can grant Warrington who probably has the best resumé of any fighter in the UK over the past 18 months, firstly beating Lee Selby at Elland Road back in May 2018, followed up by one of the fights of the year against the experienced operator Carl Frampton in the first defence of his IBF title just a few days before Christmas.
A tricky mandatory back in May against Kid Galahad makes that run of victories very impressive, possibly only Josh Taylor could argue a comparable run of fights.
Sofiane Takoucht has vast experience, 16 years as a professional and 39 fights, but you still struggle to see where he can trouble Warrington. Of his 35 wins, only 13 have come by knockout, so you’d suspect Warrington won’t mind taking one to land one on Saturday night. And Warrington has that in his locker; tough, with a high work rate, Warrington will want to get on the front foot early and start to walk Takoucht down.
Interestingly, whilst Takoucht has lost three fights, none have come by way of knockout, so there is a question to ask of how good is his chin? This can be hard to work out when operating at a lower level, but Warrington will fancy his chances albeit, Warrington only has six knockouts to his name. His last knockout came two years ago against Dennis Ceylan, which in itself was a pretty decent win. Ceylan was on a good run at the time, having beaten Ryan Walsh and drawing with Isaac Lowe.
Warrington’s record isn't one that shout’s big puncher, however, there are signs as he’s maturing, his punch power is improving. Carl Frampton is one of the toughest featherweights out there who commented he was surprised at how hard Warrington could hit, wobbling him a few times in their barnburner of a fight.
Road to Unification
For Warrington, it must be hard not to look beyond Takoucht, keen to get his name in a big unification fight. For a while it seemed as the Oscar Valdez fight could have been made, who was the WBO champion, but recently moved up to super featherweight meaning Warrington must look elsewhere.
Frank Warren this week ruled out Leo Santa Cruz stating, ‘he doesn’t want the fight’; Santa Cruz likely to fight Gary Russell Jr sometime in the next year.
That leaves top prospect 22-year-old Shakur Stevenson an option, currently WBO number 1, but I get the feeling Warrington may find it hard to get the right doors to open. Frank Warren did mention a return fight with Carl Frampton a possibility, but would like Frampton to hold a world title himself before making that rematch.
The tricky landscape Warrington finds himself in could mean he has to wait longer for the big fight he’s looking for, and more opponents like Sofiane Takoucht likely to follow. But Warrington has one of the strongest fan bases of any boxer in the UK, they will be out in force for him on Saturday keen to put his last performance behind him.
For this fight to go to the cards, you’d suspect a unanimous decision for Warrington, but I just have a feeling he will get the knockout he’s looked for over the past couple of years in the mid rounds as his high work rate and boxing pace will break Takoucht down.
Josh Warrington to win in rounds 4-6 is 15/4 with GIVEMEBET
Josh Warrington to win in rounds 7-9 is 16/5 with GIVEMEBETNews Now - Sport News