NO EASY PICKINGS FOR JOSH
By Frank Warren
After all, he hasn’t fought in front of his fervent following since last July. However, the Leeds Warrior was having none of it.
He wanted a tough examination and that is exactly what he has got – the toughest test of his career to date.
In the opposite corner will be the former IBF world super bantamweight champion, Kiko Martinez, a seasoned campaigner who is far from washed up at the age of 30.
The Spaniard holds a record of 36-7-1 and represents an ideal test for the hugely ambitious Josh before he sets about bidding to claim one of the featherweight world titles.
That is the track he is on and for us, all roads lead to Elland Road because the famous football ground is the perfect setting for the local favourite to realise his lifelong goal.
He won’t have it easy against Martinez though, a fighter well known to British fight fans, mostly for his two epic encounters with Carl Frampton.
The last time he fought over here was in a challenge for the world title then held by Scott Quigg in the summer of 2015, which resulted in an unusually quick finish in the second round.
Martinez got caught flush in what was the most notable win on Quigg’s card and that can happen to the best of them. The stunning shot, if I recall correctly, came against the run of play because it was Martinez calling the shots before he got clipped.
His only defeat in six fights since came against Leo Santa Cruz last February in another world title challenge, so this is a man who has competed at the highest level.
Martinez is well known to a few of our stable of fighters because he trains out of Murcia, where Boy Jones Jnr, Sanjeev Sahota and Billy Long regularly decamp to for warm weather training and they all speak very highly of his dedication and work ethic.
Warrington will have his work cut out to extend his perfect 24-0 record and I am sure the Leeds fans will be out in force again to drive him on.
Those fans, I suspect, will be departing the bars at the FD Arena quite a bit earlier than usual on May 13 because we have some real treats on the undercard.
Of course, there will be a lot of local interest in the homecoming and second fight in the professional career of Double Olympic Gold Medallist Nicola Adams OBE.
Nicola gets started at the Manchester Arena on April 8, but I know she is particularly excited about fighting on the same card as Josh in her home town.
We also have some potentially thrilling title action as our North East contingent head down the motorway to Leeds.
It is sure to be a close run thing as it was when Jazza defended his belt against Tommy’s brother Martin. Jazza definitely holds the edge in terms of experience having also come off an unfortunate defeat to Cuban great Guillermo Rigondeaux, while Tommy is an up and coming talent in the division with a 19-0 record.
Something will have to give and I am sure it will be up there challenging for the tag of fight of the night.
Another contender will be Josh Leather fighting for his first title – the vacant IBF Intercontinental belt – against Dublin’s Phillip Sutcliffe Jnr.
Josh is a young fighter I rate very highly and, after banking 11 wins, I feel the time is right to step him up to title level.
Sutcliffe is a tough customer – and a big puncher – who will fancy the job and present a genuine threat to the unbeaten record of the Teeside youngster.
Josh believes he is ready to prove he has got what it takes to operate at a higher level and I think another thriller could well be on the cards.
It will be a packed house for our return to promoting shows in Leeds and I am confident the fans will be rewarded with a superb night of boxing.
More from Frank tomorrow