Josh Warrington has paid tribute to Nicola Adams’ spectacular boxing career following the two-time Olympic gold medallist’s retirement today.
Warrington – current holder of the IBF featherweight world title – praised Adams for her impact, not only upon the women’s side of the sport, but also upon boxing overall.
Warrington said: “Women’s boxing reaches out to fans who wouldn’t have even considered taking up boxing years ago.
“Even if Anthony Joshua was from Leeds, he wouldn’t have had half the impact Nicola has had due to her two gold medals setting a precedent for the female side of the game. That has really given all sides of boxing a profile boost.”
Adams – who recalls walking into Burmantofts Amateur Boxing Club 25 years ago and being the only girl – has opened up many opportunities for young aspiring female boxers, Warrington believes.
He added: “When you look at boxing from the moment Nicola won her medal, certainly the younger generation would have looked at her and thought: ‘I could follow in her footsteps and emulate her success’.
“So, in that regard, she has been vital in bringing this sport up to the best it can be. She has also been a huge role model for the LGBT community; when the most succesful female boxer comes out, it gives people a lot more confidence to follow suit.”
Warrington knows Adams all too well after she featured on the undercard of his title-winning bout against Lee Selby at Elland Road last year and he fondly remembers that famous night, adding that it was a proud occasion all round for his home-city.
“It was brilliant,” he said. “It was the little things which made it even better.
“By having more Leeds fighters on the undercard it did feel more homely, especially with Jack Daniel and Jack Bateson too.
“It was great for many of us to be flying Leeds’ boxing flag.”
A lifelong Leeds United fan, Warrington says that, for him and the other fighters, having their names chanted at Elland Road will stay with him for ever.
He added: “Walking into the ring with 20,000 people chanting your name, it really is special.
“I’m sure Nicola will echo that too; having the whole crowd behind us was spectacular, especially in your home city in front of people who have been with you from the start.”
Having seen Adams switch to professional boxing from amateur at the age of 35 years old Warrington paid further testament to her character.
He added: “It takes a special fighter to excel both ways, and Nicola did exceptionally well in the time she had as a professional boxer.
“It is harder on the body as it is a longer duration of fight but, to put up with training camps at the end of her career, shows she is a true champion.”