Odds setters have installed super slick Welshman Lee Selby as a 4-1 on nap, when he enters the Elland Road bear pit and puts his IBF Title up for tender against the Duracell charged dukes of unbeaten Leeds homeboy Josh Warrington on May 19th.
However, industry insiders were struggling to split the feuding Feathers when Glynn Evans canvassed 15 of the finest about the outcome.
Barry Jones (former WBO Super-Featherweight Champion) - Selby points
Firstly, I’m pleased that Josh has got his long overdue shot. He’s earned the right and he’s super tough. There’ll be times when he really gets that Leeds crowd roaring.
Selby’s going into the cauldron but, for me, he’s a special talent. This is the fight he’s long needed to really shine and I think we might see the best Lee Selby ever. Expect moments of brilliance.
Lee can be erratic and makes the odd mistake but I don’t think Josh hits hard enough, or can land often enough, to stop Selby who I expect to win clearly on the cards.
Alan Hubbard (leading boxing journalist) - Warrington points
I like Warrington and really see him coming into his own here. It’s a fight he’s been looking forward to for a long time and I think he has the style to combat Selby’s – albeit very good – technique.
I expect Warrington to press the fight and he’ll have the Leeds crowd right behind him. Expect Selby to encounter a far busier fighter than he’s ever met before.
Warrington, possibly by split decision, in a very close and exciting fight.
Pat Barrett (former World Welterweight challenger) - Warrington stoppage
I’ve studied Warrington closely in the gym and he’s a real ‘in yer face’ grinder who wears opponents down; forces you to fight when you want to rest. He can advance and throw at the same time, a difficult skill. Defensively, he’s starting to block and slip far more. He’s much improved.
Selby’s a nice boxer but Josh works well downstairs, takes your legs. Warrington’s very strong mentally, programmed to win, and I see him forcing a stoppage, around the tenth.
Ricky Hatton (former two-weight World Champion) - Selby points
It’s a genuine 50-50 fight. Being undefeated, Josh will certainly turn up full of beans and brimming with confidence and that fabulous Leeds crowd will certainly spur him on and give him momentum. But Lee Selby is a very experienced and talented fighter who’s very big at the weight. I think Lee will ultimately have too much for Josh. Selby on points.
Paddy Barnes (triple Olympian) - Warrington stoppage
Selby has the greater skill and ability but I believe he’s struggling with the weight now. With the crowd behind him, a relentless Warrington won’t stop punching and his relentlessness will see him break Lee down and stop him on sheer work rate in the later stages of an exciting fight.
Dom Ingle (leading trainer) - Selby points
Those boisterous fans will lift Josh but Selby’s the type who can fight anywhere. He’s well-seasoned and has fought in big arenas plenty of times before.
Warrington’s a very good front foot fighter but one-dimensional. Besides, Selby’s not the type to engage. He’s more versatile, can go forwards or back. He’ll not go ‘toe-to-toe’ but will pick his shots and push Warrington back. Josh can’t fight in reverse.
Selby wins a tough, close fight on points. He has the greater experience and has been in bigger fights.
JJ Metcalf (unbeaten Super-Welterweight) - Warrington points
Selby’s not been at his best, his last few fights and I see Warrington’s high work rate causing him a lot of trouble. Selby won’t be fazed by the crowd – I saw him knock out Stephen Smith in Liverpool – but they’ll stir Warrington to a close win in a fight that’ll definitely go the distance.
Gary Lockett (leading trainer) - Selby stoppage
Josh Warrington is a very seasoned and capable fighter with an exceptional work rate. Given his long unbeaten run and crowd support, he’ll arrive confident, with the bit between his teeth. But Lee Selby has come through the hard way and I believe he’s superior in every key department; size, skill, power.
It’s all well Warrington’s fans being hostile but Lee’s a very strong character. He’ll not be fazed. It might be competitive for the first half but Selby will take over after half way and force a late stoppage.
Ryan Garner (unbeaten Super-Featherweight) - Warrington points
I fancy Warrington in his back yard. After a cagey start, it should heat up. It’s a real grudge, tensions are high and they’ll want to hurt each other bad.
I’ve sparred with Josh and his punch rate and variety are both impressive. He’s also got thudding power and I was surprised by his physical strength. I think Selby’s taking him lightly. Once Josh warms up, he’ll boss the later rounds and take the decision.
Joe Gallagher (leading trainer) - Selby points
Warrington will have the crowd behind him but he’s all about huff and puff. Warrington’s only chance is if Selby’s stayed at the weight too long.
Lee Selby’s fought and sparred better fighters and he’s much better technically. Selby’s served his time, hasn’t ducked anyone and has long craved a big domestic showdown to really get his juices flowing. He’ll relish going to Elland Road.
He knows that an even bigger fight waits against Carl Frampton in Belfast this summer if he comes through so I can’t see him coming unstuck. Provided his fragile hands hold out, Selby wins clearly.
Matthew Macklin (former triple World Title challenger) - Selby stoppage
Selby’s a level above in terms of talent and ability and I expect him to dictate everything. Warrington is decent but I can’t see him out boxing Selby and he lacks the power to seriously hurt him. Having to force things, rather than fight at his own tempo, will see Warrington tire quicker.
A partisan crowd can lift their fighter in a 50-50 fight but I don’t believe Selby will allow it to become that. I see him subduing the Leeds fans pretty early and killing the atmosphere. Though Selby’s not overly aggressive, he hits solidly. I see Lee systematically breaking Warrington down, walking Josh on to a few, and possibly stopping him in the second half.
John Rawling (leading commentator) - Warrington points
Selby’s the big favourite but Warrington’s style can make it tough.
To me, there is a latter-day Eubank-Collins about this. Like Snr, Selby likes to take breaks and conserve energy. Like Collins, Warrington will not let it happen. He will make him fight three minutes of every round. Technically, Selby may have the edge. But work rate and huge support will suit Warrington. Logically, Selby is the tip to win this but I just have a hunch that this could be a great Yorkshire night. If so, Warrington might scrape it on points.
Steve Maylett (leading trainer) - Warrington points
Selby is in my top three British fighters. Few can match his talent and skill. But I believe the weight is killing him now and he’s been lacking in his last couple of performances. By contrast, Josh does the weight comfortably.
Selby will probably be a shade in front by midway but I expect Warrington to come on strong over the last five rounds and nick a close points decision. Selby won’t be ‘spooked’ but that Leeds crowd will help Josh find something extra.
Alex Steedman (BoxNation presenter) - Selby
Ooooh! Selby just, but it’s been a while since he looked good and I think weight-making is probably the reason for that. Warrington is also much better than people think. Selby has one big performance in him at feather and this could be it.
Liam Smith (former WBO World Super-Welterweight Champion) - Selby points
Warrington brings a big will to win and is fit as a fiddle. He’ll definitely last the pace. The crowd will play their part in getting him to force the action and eventually the fight will catch fire. But he can’t outbox Selby. Selby’s experience will get him through and earn him a close points decision in a tough fight.
FINAL SCORE: SELBY 8 - WARRINGTON 7
Buy BoxNation to watch Lee Selby v Josh Warrington. Sky customers can use code CHAMPIONS for free registration (saving £8) until midnight on May 19th.