Kid Galahad loses on split decision in world title bid against Josh Warrington
Kid Galahad’s bid for the IBF world title ended in disappointment as he was edged out on a split decision by defending champion Josh Warrington in Leeds.
The Sheffield fighter took a 115-113 decision from judge Howard Foster but Warrington got the nod from Michael Alexander (116-113) and Steve Gray (116-112) to retain his title.
It was an exhausting, scrappy, awkward and close 12 round contest that Galahad looked to be enjoying the better of for long periods.
Disregarded for a long time and disrespected in plentiful amounts in the build-up, this was Galahad's chance to back up everything he has claimed over the years.
And though it ultimately ended with a feeling of disappointment, he showed his words were more than mere bluster as he proved himself at world level.
The road to another world title shot will be a long one. Not one of the champions will be queuing up to put their crowns on the line against such a tricky operator.
But he perhaps showed the way forward for some of those champions Warrington will now be chasing for the unification bouts Galahad was consistently told he was the inconvenience that had got in the way of.
Slickness was never likely to be the order of the day the early stages as such an ill-tempered rivalry finally came to a head.
Fitting then that the first piece of physicality in the contest was a clinch that went on for a little too long.
The first round appeared largely to be an attempt to unsettle from Galahad.
First, he adopted a southpaw stance and slipped through a lovely back hand before showing superb head movement to dodge what was coming back from an unusually tentative Warrington.
Then, dictated by Galahad, it became a scruffier affair with plenty of clinching which helped prevent Warrington from piling on the sort of intense pressure he favours.
Both men received stern words from referee Phil Edwards before the start of the second round which proved a cleaner affair.
Galahad continued to have the better of it, popping the jab our well and maintaining good distances with smart feet to avoid the flurries of Warrington.
A superb straight right pierced the guard of Warrington, momentarily stunning the hometown fighter.
Warrington was much improved in the third round, landing superbly with a three shot assault Galahad simply could not back away from.
And, after being warned over use of the head, he turned up the heat more, throwing multiple shots while truly pushing forward for the first time.
It forced another rethink from Galahad, who went back to the southpaw stance at the start of the fourth - adopting it for the majority of the rest of the contest.
It suited him better, keeping Warrington away and allowing him to nip in and out with single accurate shots from both hands.
Such control helped to subdue the home support for Warrington, whose attempts to push forward were met with smart clinches from Galahad.
Warrington landed a beautiful right hand cross in the fifth, his best shot to the point but struggled to build on it with more pressure.
Galahad grew into the round, again nipping in and out with excellent work before finishing the three minutes with a clipped right hook to the ear.
Warrington responded again in the sixth, walking forward to apply the pressure much more than he had done in previous rounds while Galahad received another warning for holding.
There was much more of a tenative approach from the Sheffield fighter in the seventh as Warrington began to impose himself better.
He showed improvement in closing down the distances, making the better of things with a big right hook that caught Galahad clean.
But the Ingle fighter rallied in the eighth, popping shots out again while using his footwork to make sure little came back the other way.
He appeared to be enjoying himself a little too much in the final minute, letting too many shots go which invited a barrage from his opponent.
Galahad had the better of a particularly scruffy ninth.
He landed a great snap left hook to the jaw, though Warrington fired back with a nice hook of his own later in the round before a charge was halted with a superb stiff jab from Galahad.
There was perhaps a sense from Warrington that he needed to step on the gas by the tenth as he surged out quickly and powered forward, throwing multiple shots with Galahad struggling to get out of the way.
Galahad managed to settle things down but Warrington came again at the end of the round in perhaps his most convincing three minute performance of the fight.
Warrington edged the scruffy 11th round with the better of the pressure as Galahad struggled to get his shots away cleanly.
A drag out affair was always likely in the final round as the two exhausted fighters looked to do enough to take what always looked set to be a tight scoring.
Galahad looked to have got in the cleaner of the work in the 12th but it was a particularly indecisive few minutes.
The announcement of a split decision reflected what was a close contest that could go either way.
For Galahad there was bitter disappointment that he could so easily have been clutching the IBF's big red belt.
For Warrington, the unfamiliar feeling of relief after a taxing and testing contest where he was pushed to the limit.
Galahad will not be talked down again.