Josh Warrington (29-0, KO6) bides his time on a potential big unification fight this weekend, as “The Leeds Warrior” again performs in front of his adoring home crowd at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.
He can’t overlook his opponent this weekend though, as Frenchman, Sofiane Takoucht (35-3-1, KO13) represents a banana skin who could derail all of Warrington’s grand plans with victory in Yorkshire. Josh’s IBF Featherweight Title is the prize on the line.
BT Sport is the place for the live action in the UK, with Top Rank/ESPN the American broadcaster for the event.
Ardennes resident Takoucht has scarcely deserved his shot, but is pitched in with Warrington as a result of his IBF International Champion status, as a voluntary challenger for the home fighter. A former European Champion, Takoucht defeated Oleg Yefimovych in the Ukrainian’s Donetsk back yard in 2010 via split decision, but then dropped the belt to Alexander Miskirtchian in his first defence, again via split decison. The pair re-matched over two years later, with Miskirtchian again coming out on top, this time via majority decision.
Since that January 2014 loss, Takoucht is unbeaten in eight, against opponents usually with more losses than wins. Both Warrington and Takoucht share a common opponent in Davide Dieli. Takoucht edged a split decision win in November 2012, while Warrington won the vacant European Title with a fourth round stoppage of the Italian in October 2014.
Warrington will hope for an easier nights work than his last outing, which was a messy, tough to watch, split decision win against Kid Galahad back in June. Some were of the opinion that Warrington was a touch fortunate to retain his belt. I believe the lacklustre performance was more down to the opponent than anything else, as Warrington had been impressive as Champion up to that point. Wins against Lee Selby and Carl Frampton are testament to that.
Big fights beckon for Warrington with a win here, with the likes of WBC Champion, Gary Russell Junior and WBA Champion, Leo Santa Cruz touted as future foes.
Prediction: I can’t see a knockout win for either man in this one, as both are not known knockout artists. I think Warrington will bring his usual marauding, pressure fighting style, which may prove tricky for Takoucht to keep at bay. The smart money is on a clear and decisive points win for the Yorkshireman, moving onto bigger and better fights into 2020 and beyond.
The undercard features some decent match ups, headed by Zelfa Barrett’s (22-1, KO13) first defence of the Commonwealth Super Featherweight Title. The Manchester man seems on a collision course with British Champion, Sam Bowen, and he faces a former Bowen victim in the tough Scot, Jordan McCorry (18-6-1, KO4).
“Jordy” was stopped in nine by Bowen in Leicester in March, but was gallant in defeat, pushing the Leicester man hard, before tiring. He did the same in a losing effort to Archie Sharp at the O2 Arena in July. McCorry was floored with a body shot in the third round, but was competitive enough in a wide points reverse.
Barrett captured the vacant belt with an impressive, and high octane clash with another Leicester man, Lyon Woodstock at the same Leeds venue in June. Barrett eventually ran out a handy points winner. His sole loss remains a gruelling majority decision loss to Ronnie Clark in February 2018. Clark also holds a tenth round stoppage win over McCorry back in March 2016.
Prediction: I think that McCorry is a good domestic yard stick, and will certainly come to Leeds to win. The Scot has great heart and a great engine, but think he will find Barrett’s style and speed a tough challenge. I can see Barrett scoring an early knockdown, possibly via body shots, before ending the contest in the later rounds.
Another man going for a Commonwealth belt is Barrett’s good friend, Lyndon Arthur (15-0, KO12) and the Moston man is ready to be unleashed as he challenges for the vacant title at Light heavyweight against 33 year old Ghanaian, Emmanuel Anim (14-2-1, KO12).
28 year old “King” Arthur has only been the distance twice in his career, and hasn’t been past six rounds thus far, with his toughest opponent on paper being a faded version of Charles Adamu, who he outscored over six in June last year.
His opponent is the typical African Commonwealth Title import, and Emmanuel Anim is 1-2-1 in his last four outings, which isn’t the best form. He is durable though, and has gone twelve rounds twice and ten rounds in the last 18 months in losing efforts for the Ghanaian Title at Super Middle, and the WBO International belt at Light Heavy. He also drew with Patrick Mukala in South Africa in a challenge for the WBO Pan African Title in September last year.
Prediction: I think Arthur will want to impose himself early in this one, and stamp his authority from the word go. Although this is a slight step up for Lyndon, I think he can get the job done here before halfway.
An interesting clash at Super Welterweight sees the vacant WBO Intercontinental Title on the line as Darlington’s Troy Williamson (11-0-1, KO8) meets Rotherham’s Nav Mansouri (20-2-2, KO6).
“Trojan” Williamson’s only blemish on his record is a June 2018 eight round draw with former English Champion, Jack Flatley, despite Williamson scoring two first round knockdowns.
Mansouri is a former English Champion himself, but has been fighting in Spain under the MTK banner since June last year. He dropped a split decision to Jorge Fortea in February after a seven fight winning streak, and returned in August to easily outscore Wilmer Gonzalez over six.