Held at Leeds’ First Direct Arena, sponsored by Grosvenor Casinos and live on Sky Sports 1 from 19:30 on Saturday, Matchroom presents an evening of championship boxing headlined by Josh Warrington’s bout against Joel Brunker for the WBC International and Commonwealth featherweight titles.
Warrington vs Brunker Tale of the Tape
Josh Warrington: 21-0 (4 KO)
A trained dental technician, 24-year-old Josh Warrington is a die-hard Leeds United fan and 5 foot 7 inch boxer that’s followed the ‘traditional’ British boxing route of winning English, British, Commonwealth and European titles in his 21-fight professional career.
Sure to be cheered on by his home Leeds crowd, undefeated orthodox boxer Warrington is touted as a potential future world champion and, amongst other technical assets, is rated as having a strong defence with a high all-round work-rate.
Nicknamed ‘The Leeds Warrior,’ and compared to former multiple time world champion Ricky Hatton due to his body punching, Warrington is not a big hitter, but he throws a high volume of punches and, as such, is a crowd pleaser.
In terms of notable bouts, Warrington TKO’d the only man to beat rival, stablemate and likely future opponent Lee Selby in Samir Mouneimne back in November 2013, along with a retirement defeat of former European super-bantamweight champion Rendall Munroe in April 2014.
Most recently, Warrington faced Pilipino Dennis Tubieron, in April 2015, and – despite his very low KO percentage – was expected to KO/TKO an opponent who’d been stopped in three of his four losses and had fought most of his career two divisions lower. The Leeds man, however, won a very one-sided points decision.
Well aware that he has to make a ‘statement’ in the ring this weekend if he’s to face domestic rival and IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby – who stopped Australian Brunker in October 2014 – down the line, Warrington has to at least win this weekend in order to stay on course for a shot at WBC champ Gary Russell Jr.
Joel Brunker: 28-1 (16 KO)
A native of New South Wales in Australia, 29-year-old Joel Brunker is an orthodox boxer who competed in the 2004 Olympics as a bantamweight, but moved up to featherweight as a professional.
Best known to British fight fans for a ninth-round stoppage loss to Matchroom boxer and current IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby, Brunker is a come-forward fighter with a decent stoppage record of 55%.
Slightly taller than this his opponent, Warrington, this weekend, at 5 feet 7 ½ inches, Brunker doesn’t have any notable scalps to his name and all bar two of his pro bouts took place in Australia. In his last fight, which came after the Selby defeat, Brunker defeated Pilipino Rey Laspinas via a second-round TKO.
Unhappy with his loss to Selby in what was a world title eliminator, Brunker needs to defeat Warrington to get back into the title picture and, in recent interviews, has claimed that he’ll right what went wrong last time this weekend.
Warrington vs Brunker Betting Odds
WBC International and Commonwealth champion Warrington is priced between 2/9 and 1/7 to emerge victorious, while challenger Brunker is offered at a general 4/1 betting odds. Should you wish to bet on one, a draw can be backed around 22/1.
The Warrington vs Brunker Betting Verdict
Hometown fighter Warrington is guaranteed to be spurred on by a passionate and noisy crowd, which can make a big difference, knows that he has to win and is rightly the favourite, but his betting price is too short back at 2/9.
It has to be of concern that ‘The Leeds Warrior’ was unable to stop Tubieron since – as mentioned earlier – the Pilipino had lost three times via stoppage and wasn’t natural at the weight, but Warrington claimed his opponent was simply really tough. The English boxer did later say that he got bored in the ring to counter this, but it’s still something to add to the equation when making a betting decision.
Now, styles make fights in boxing and although Brunker was easily beaten by Selby, it was a bad matchup for him stylistically. Brunker, as he later noted, threw very few punches in that bout because he couldn’t pin the slippery and elusive boxer that Selby is down.
This time, however, come-forward fighter Brunker isn’t facing someone who’s a master of hit and move boxing, more a high-pressure boxer who throws a lot of punches and will engage and trade with him in the centre of the ring, so boxing Warrington is a good matchup stylistically for the Aussie.
As such, although we have to note that all of Warrington’s wins inside the distance came within his last few fights, if we argue that Leeds man isn’t considered to be a big puncher and that Brunker’s unlikely to be deterred as a consequence, unless Warrington can land flurries and quickly avoid being hit back for twelve rounds, the Aussie has a better chance of winning than his 4/1 odds suggest.
All in all, Warrington has the general skills and body punching to gradually wear Brunker down and hand him a comprehensive defeat, and he might have no choice but to try and stop a fighter that will look to slug it out from close range if he is to win, but since this is no more than a 65/35 bout in the Englishman’s favour in my eyes, we’ve got to take a punt on the upset at a good price.
Worth a punt: Brunker to win at 4/1
About Jonathan Cordingley
A fan of boxing since childhood, Jonathan is an ex-radio host who used to work as a content editor and sports writer for a major bookmaker. Jonathan has covered a large number of boxing matches in betting previews for a variety of websites and lists his favourite pugilistic moment as seeing Frank Bruno finally win a world title in 1995. His biggest betting win came after picking a draw in Felix Sturm v Martin Murray in 2011.
See more at Grosvenor Boxing.