By Alan Hubbard – 20.10.17
The trouble with Josh Warrington, some people tell me, is that he doesn’t punch hard enough to win a world title.
True the Leeds stylist has only stopped five of 25 opponents, but don’t worry Josh. It’s all tosh.
Plenty of boxers have become world champions without possessing a dig that puts opponents to sleep, including one of the finest Britain has ever produced.
Like Warrington, Howard Winstone was a beautiful to watch featherweight. He couldn’t break an egg, but boy, could he box!
Or should we say boyo, because Winstone was a Welshman proud of his Merthyr roots. He fought mainly in the sixties with a technique based on dazzling jab-and-move skills that took the breath away- especially that of his opponents.
He was one of the most talented boxers ever to grace a British ring, and it is heartening to see that Warrington is already following in his graceful footsteps.
The main reason that Winstone lacked firepower was that he lost the tips of three fingers on his right hand in a toy factory accident where he worked as a youngster.
But this did not prevent him winning the WBC world featherweight title against the Japanese Mitsunori Seki at London’s Royal Albert Hall in January 1968.
The fact that Winstone stopped just 27 of his 61 professional victims testifies to his modest punching power. He relied on strength, guile, workrate and body shots, allied to an outstanding technique, and lost just six of 67 paid contests.
Winstone was one of the most talented boxers ever to grace a British ring, and it is heartening to see that Warrington is already following in his graceful footsteps.
Having lost much of his knock-out power, the boy from the valleys worked on developing one of the fastest and sweetest left hand jabs in the game.
The legendary trainer Angelo Dundee said that he was “the nearest I have ever seen to the great Willie Pep” (another fabled featherweight who became a world champion without a devastating punch).
Although he won the title with skills which raised boxing to an art form Winstone had the misfortune of being eclipsed by the Mexican Vicente Saldivar, who had dominated the nine-stone division during the sixties.
Winstone valiantly attempted to prise the world title from Saldivar’s grip three times; but despite memorable displays of class and courage, he was twice narrowly outpointed over 15 rounds, once in London and then a bitterly disputed decision in Cardiff, followed by a tko in Mexico City.
Josh should dwell on Winstone when he faces the highly dangerous Dennis Ceylan in a mandated final eliminator for the IBF featherweight world title at the First Direct Arena in Leeds this Saturday night.
Hopefully he will box the also unbeaten Dane’s ears off – Howard’s way.
Leeds idol Warrington is now within glove-touching distance of a dream world title showdown with another Welshman, Lee Selby, after Selby declined a substantial offer from Frank Warren to defend his crown against the current WBC International belt holder.
But here’s a word of warning for Josh. Keep your chin well out of harm’s way against Ceylan.
Winstone forgot to do so when his unbeaten 34-fight streak ended with a shock second-round stoppage defeat against unknown American Leroy Jeffrey, who floored him three times, in November 1962. And – let’s hope not too ominously – that fight was in Leeds, at the Queens Hall.
Winstone later claimed that the defeat was positive for his career, and so it proved.
He died 17 years ago aged just 61 but I had got to know him and his manager and trainer Eddie Thomas, the former welterweight champion, well.
They were lovely men .But as they were the first to admit, not really men of the world.
There was an hilarious incident back in 1966 in Sassari, Sardinia, where Winstone successfully defended his European title against the Italian Andrea Silanos.
He, Thomas and some fans from Merthyr found themselves with little to do after the weigh-in and a few of us scribes bumped into them as they wandered aimlessly around the small town.
”But boring, isn’t it,” remarked Eddie. ”Nothing t see or do here boyos. We’ve been looking for this place Senso Unico to see what it is but can’t find it even though we keep following the signs. Were just going round and round.”
Gently, we pointed out that Senso Unico meant One Way…
As I say ,lovely men. Lovely days.
Josh Warrington will face Dennis Ceylan in a final eliminator for the IBF Featherweight World title at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on Saturday, live on BT Sport and BoxNation.
I HAVE BEEN to Saudi Arabia. It is a horrid, hateful place which has no great interest in boxing – or in treating women as little more than chattels.
So why on earth have World Super Series Boxing organisers elected to hold their cruiserweight final in the city of Jeddah next May?
The answer of course, is Money.
The same reason why the oil-rich and influential Saudis have not been kicked out of the Olympics for practicing discrimination against women that has been on a ‘cultural’ par with the politics of apartheid that had South Africans rightly excluded until they mended their ways.
The new agreement was signed in London this week between World Boxing Super Series admininistrators and owner Comosa and The General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia.
It is one boxing may regret. Has one of the world’s most progressive and liberated sports yet realised that females will be barred from wherever the event is staged in Jeddah because women – at least all Saudi women – remain barred from watching men participate in sport?
A few years back I went to Mecca. No, not a sudden religious conversion by this incorrigible infidel – I was invited there to attend the first Islamic Games.
A total of 7,000 athletes from 54 Islamic countries competing in 13 sports over a fortnight. Other than the Olympics themselves, they claimed no bigger multi-sports extravaganza had ever been staged.
They promised us “something unique, something different”. Well, it was certainly that. Not a woman in sight. Surely this was the nearest a sports event has been to the days of the original Olympics in Ancient Greece, where females were also barred from playing and peeping.
The stadium had loos in abundance, but significantly none were marked “Ladies”.
No booze of course,either. Any visiting fights fans won’t be able to get a drink in Jeddah. or if they bring their own they face a public lashing. Or worse.
So anyone thinking of taking a trip to this supposedly new fistic oasis in the desert sands should think again: Las Vegas it isn’t.