Updated: Oct 15, 2020
Leeds’ very own Josh Warrington returns to the First Direct Arena on Saturday night, where he will make the third defence of his IFB world title against France’s Sofiane Takoucht (35-3-1).
It is his second time fighting in front of his home fans at his home arena this year, the first being June’s close split-decision victory over Kid Galahad (26-1); and the first-perceived weaker mismatch of an opponent since he KOed Dennis Ceylan (19-3-2) back in October 2017.
Irrespective of whether this view is just or not, Warrington deserves minimal, if any, criticism. Takoucht is a mandatory defence – Warrington had been targeting a unification fight with Mexico’s Leo Santa Cruz – and over the last 18 months, he has prevailed through the comparatively preeminent run of any British fighter, proving his bravery, talent, and ambition against sequential elite-level opposition. First came a split decision world title victory over Lee Selby, before successful successive defences against the ex-world champion, Carl Frampton (26-2), and the previously undefeated, Kid Galahad.
Takoucht doesn’t have any opponents of that ilk on his record. He does, however, come into this contest on an eight-fight winning streak and fights out of a southpaw stance, a style that has given Warrington problems previously. At 33, Takoucht is five years older than Josh, yet although his record reads 13 KO victories compared to Warrington’s six, he has not stopped an opponent since Irakli Jeranashvili (5-13-6) in 2014. He currently holds the IBF international featherweight title and he has never been stopped, but what are his chances of victory on Saturday?
A trebuchet was an apparatus used in medieval warfare for the hurling of large missiles, a word of French origin that is not unrecognizably dissimilar to Sofiane’s surname. Indeed, his best chance – or perhaps only chance – of success on Saturday night will be to mimic the destructive approach of this war machine, as a points victory in the hometown of a popular world champion would appear exceedingly unlikely. But maybe not impossible.