Josh Warrington inspired by Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow

As Josh Warrington gears up for his rematch with Mauricio Lara at Headingley, he has taken inspiration from “absolute hero” Rob Burrow as the Leeds Rhinos legend continues his battle against motor neurone disease.

GEARING UP: Josh Warrington trains at Leeds Beckett University ahead of his fight against Mauricio Lara on September 4 at Emerald Headingley. Picture: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.

The 38-year-old was diagnosed with the condition in late 2019 after enjoying a decorated career which included eight Super League titles and 20 international caps.

Burrow, who can no longer walk or talk, was at Headingley last week to launch his autobiography at Rhinos’ league meeting with Huddersfield Giants.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Warrington will be walking out at the stadium on September 4 as he aims to avenge his defeat to Lara in February and return to title contention in the featherweight division.

LEGEND: Josh Warrington has taken inspiration from Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow ahead of his next fight. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

“Of course you will find inspiration in that,” said Warrington of Burrow’s story.

“What he achieved as a player, with his attributes he shouldn’t have been able to do what he did. He represents the little guys well.

“He is an absolute hero. Seeing him go on the pitch last week, it gives you chills.

“Last week I was down at Headingley, walking around the corridors.

“We left the changing rooms and, as you turn to go down the tunnel, there is a massive picture of Kevin Sinfield, Jamie-Jones Buchanan, Jamie Peacock and Rob is standing in front of it.

“It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

“I am going to pass that next week, ready to go to war, and that is just going to give me that bit of spark and adrenaline.

“Not like I will need it but it is going to be another thing to get me really pumped up.

“Stuff like that was missing last time and I know things like that will get me sparked.”

Meanwhile, Warrington revealed he declined the opportunity to attend Leeds United’s Premier League meeting with Everton as he gave up his season ticket. It was a full house in the top flight for the first time in 17 years but the Leeds Warrior is staying away from Elland Road until after his bout with Lara as he does not want to risk catching Covid-19.

“I had to give my season ticket up on Saturday,” he added.

“Someone had a box and hospitality tables but, if I go down Elland Road, I drink shedloads of water while everyone else is having pints and I need to go to the toilet three or four times during the game.

“I can’t even go to the toilet without someone saying ‘hey, Josh, let’s have a selfie’. So I’m avoiding it until after the fight’s done. With Covid and all that, it’s dangerous stuff.”

Warrington vacated his IBF featherweight title prior to his contest with Lara earlier this year.

The IBF crown was recently claimed by Sheffield-based fighter Kid Galahad but Warrington insisted the sight of his former foe holding aloft the belt didn’t faze him.

“It was my decision to vacate the belt, so I always knew when he won that final eliminator that he would fight for it eventually and there was a possibility he could win it,” added Warrington, who hopes to make it 31 wins from 32 professional fights when he takes on Lara.

“It didn’t bother me. In my mind I was going to be Ring magazine champion and that looks over all the governing bodies. The world title is not dominated by the IBF.

“I had a few defences of it and I’ve got a fancy ring over there on my sideboard, which you get awarded when you have three defences of it.

“Congratulations to him, but that’s it really.”