Terri Harper to defend title by stoppage, says fellow Yorkshire world champion Josh Warrington

From one Yorkshire world champion to another, Josh Warrington is full of praise for Doncaster’s pioneering title-holder, Terri Harper. Ben McKenna reports.

Terri Harper celebrates victory over Eva Wahlstrom in the WBC & IBO Super-featherweight World Championship fight at the FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield. (PIcture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire)

The 23-year-old from Doncaster will put her world titles on the line for the first time against fellow Brit Natasha Jonas at the Matchroom Fight Camp in Essex in what will be the first-ever world title fight between two British women.

Harper was initially due to defend her belts, which she won via a unanimous decision against Eva Wahlstrom at the Sheffield Arena in February, at the end of April but the coronavirus pandemic put that fight on hold.

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Warrington himself has not fought since he defeated Sofiane Takoucht by a second-round knockout in October but will be hoping he is not the only world champion from Yorkshire come Saturday morning – and has even tipped Harper to win by stoppage.

Josh Warrington celebrates defending his title againsy Sofiane Takoucht at Leeds Arena last October (Picture: Ben McKenna)

“I have met Terri a few times and she is a lovely, down-to-earth lass who has come a long way and worked hard to get where she is,” said Warrington.

“She is a good representative of the sport and an inspiration to a lot of young girls who want to get into boxing.”

Harper’s rise to the top has been an uplifting one.

She worked in a chip shop as recently as 18 months ago, taking the job on a part-time basis as she finished her studies at Sheffield Hallam University.

Relaxed - Terri Harper at the final press conference ahead of their WBC and IBO World Super Featherweight Title fight on Saturday night (Picture: Mark Robinson)

Harper became a world champion in only her 10th bout and has knocked out half of her opponents to date.

Liverpool-born Jonas has lost just one of her 10 fights since turning professional when she suffered a technical knockout defeat to Viviane Obenauf in 2018. Harper beat Obenauf in November last year at the Manchester Arena, on the same night it was confirmed she would get her title shot against Wahlstrom.

“Her story is inspiring, coming from the chip shop and then all of sudden she is boxing in front of thousands of people and winning world titles,” continued Warrington.

“I will be tuning in and cheering her on.

Terri Harper (left) and Eva Wahlstrom fight in the WBC & IBO Super-featherweight World Championship fight at the FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield. (Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire)

“I think she will put a show on and I fancy her to get a stoppage as well.”

The Matchroom Fight Camp is promoter Eddie Hearn’s strategy to keep fighters fresh and competing following the ban put on supporters attending sporting events.

Matchroom’s managing director has set up a ring in his own back garden, allowing boxers to get back between the ropes once again.

It started last weekend with Ted Cheesman defeating Sam Egginton in the headline event and Harper will headline tomorrow night’s show, which will be shown live on Sky Sports, in a major step forward for women’s boxing.

Meanwhile, Warrington’s own plans have been disrupted by the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The IBF world champion was set to fight WBA champion Can Xu in a featherweight unification bout this summer at Emerald Headingley.

Warrington would reluctantly fight the Chinese fighter behind closed doors if spectators are not allowed back into arenas and stadiums before the end of the year.

The Leeds Warrior tuned in for last week’s Fight Camp and admits it was encouraging to watch some boxing again, even if it was only through a television screen.

“It has been refreshing to see it back,” added Warrington.

“It is a bit weird without the crowd noise and for the corner men to be dressed up like they are but it is good to see it back.

“I really enjoyed Eddie’s show last weekend, and that is not me being biased, but I thought all the fights were very competitive.

“All of them were more or less 50/50 fights so that was good to see.

“You get a little itch for it. I can’t wait to be back myself.”

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