Kid Galahad silences the doubters and proves his credentials despite defeat to Josh Warrington
It did not take long for the laughing and derision to stop and the levels of concern to rise.
The popping out of a straight right hand followed by a slick drop of the shoulder and a side step showed that, in Kid Galahad, IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington and his rabid Leeds support had plenty to worry about.
This was Galahad – or Barry from Sheffield as Warrington and his team would have you call him. A fighter who had been disrespected and dismissed from the moment the fight was announced until the ringing of the first bell.
Galahad was the inconvenient road block to Warrington’s plans to unify the featherweight division.
Despite him having earned mandatory challenger status, you could have been forgiven for thinking Galahad had been parachuted into a world title fight from nowhere.
Warrington and his team, as they would, had you believe he posed little threat. Afterall, this was the Leeds Warrior that had seen off genuine world level competition in Lee Selby and Carl Frampton to win and retain his world title.
Bizarrely, both Warrington’s promoter and the TV company backing him were equally dismissive in their tone, despite having the fight to sell.
But, after 12 highly competitive, exhausting rounds of boxing, every single one of those people will have had panging doubts in the pit of their stomachs over the ultimate outcome.
There was a nervousness in Leeds Arena at the announcement of the verdict until 'and still...’ emerged from the announcer’s lips and reignited a partisan crowd that had been more than a little subdued over much of the previous 45 minutes or so.
Where the feeling was expected to be comfort and enjoyment, instead there was a flood of relief.
Warrington had taken a split decision verdict to retain his title. Just.
The judges were not the only ones divided. TV pundits could not agree and neither could fight fans on social media.
That is how much Barry from Sheffield had injected doubt over 12 intriguing if not so entertaining rounds.
Anyone who had given just a minute’s consideration to his career to that point would have known he was dangerous – awkward, slick and accurate. An archetypal fighter from the Ingle gym in Wincobank, continuing the legacy of his great mentor Brendan Ingle, a little more than a year on from his death.
Not that Warrington himself will not have known all about the threats Galahad possesses.
And he certainly did after the first couple of rounds.
The tactics and approach adopted by Galahad may not have sat easy with some, but there was no doubting the intelligence behind it.
“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do," is how the fighter himself responded to questions over his grappling and holding after the fight.
With his tactics, Galahad and his team showed they had watched and noted exactly what had brought Warrington to the top table – something which Frampton surely did not in the build-up to his challenge for the title last year.
The Leeds fighter earned his 'Warrior’ moniker thanks to incredible intensity, relentless pressure and fearlessness.
If Galahad was to have any chance of victory, he had to at least take the first two of those away and hit the last one by injecting seeds of doubt
And for the majority of the fight he did just that.
Where both Selby and Frampton had allowed Warrington to fight on their chests and slug away, Galahad either prevented him from getting close or clung onto him when he came into range.
It started with stunning slickness of head movement and fast feet, weaving out of the way as Warrington pushed forward.
He fired out single shots from both hands and moved out of the way quickly to prevent anything coming back the other way.
And then he began to create hesitancy in Warrington by switching to a southpaw stance his opponent clearly was not expecting.
When the Leeds man had more success in the third round after Galahad had gone back to orthodox, he responded in the fourth by switching again to southpaw - which he would adopt for much of the rest of the fight.
It took Warrington time to truly settle and be able to enjoy spells of the pressure he favours, which finally started to come in the middle rounds as he threw away the tentativeness he had previously shown.
From here, the more ugly tactics of Galahad increased in number with long periods of grappling as he looked to subdue a renewed opponent.
If there was anywhere that the fight was truly lost, it was in the later stages when he seemed to be favouring the defensive side over the offensive, concentrating a little too much on keeping Warrington at bay rather than firing back.
But there were so few decisive rounds that scoring was incredibly difficult for all.
It meant there were few arguments when the decision was announced.
Both men could justifiably have taken the win and a draw would hardly have been the biggest of shocks.
He may not have woken up on Sunday morning with the big red IBF belt laying on the pillow next to him, but Galahad should feel at least some satisfaction for what he achieved on Saturday night.
He turned in a performance that demonstrated skill and ring smarts to come so close to winning a fight he had been told often he did not deserve to be in.
Galahad proved what many already knew – that he does indeed belong at world level.
Now he just has to find the route back there because, after his latest performance, there will not be many potential opponents gladly opening doors for him.