Josh Warrington’s plea to Leeds Council to let him fight Mauricio Lara at Emerald Headingley

Leeds Warrior Josh Warrington has today issued an urgent appeal to Leeds Council to let him fight at Emerald Headingley Stadium.

Josh Warrington at Emerald Headingley where he hopes to fight (Picture: Luke Holroyd)

Leeds’s first male boxing world champion wants revenge against Mauricio Lara – the man who inflicted a first defeat on him in Febuary – in front of 25,000 fans at the world-renowned rugby and cricket venue on September 4.

But in a shock move last month, Leeds Council rejected Headingley as a venue due to concerns over the late-night finish and disruption to residents.

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And Warrington has responded by writing a letter to the council via the pages of The Yorkshire Post, urging them to overturn the decision.

Josh Warrington flanked by rugby league legends at Headingley (Picture: Luke Holroyd)

Warrington writes: “Saturday, May 19, 2018 will always be up there with one of the best days of my life. Apart from getting married to my wife Natasha and the birth of my beautiful baby girls, the day I became IBF World Champion in front of a packed Elland Road will always be special.

“Nobody expected me to do it, everybody wrote me off but the people who truly believed in me were my loyal fans.

“From supporting me at leisure centres and hotel banqueting suites, they have been with me from the start.

“That victory on a warm summer’s evening at the home of my beloved Leeds United was for them.

The night of my life - Josh Warrington wins the IBF featherweight title from Lee Selby at Elland Road in May 2018 (Picture: Steve Riding)

“Contrast that with a first defeat at a deserted, cold Wembley Arena against Mauricio Lara in February, without my army of fans, it was a tough one to take.

“After plenty of soul searching as to what went wrong, at the elite level of sport there is no room for errors.

“Revenge will be sweet as I am getting back to full fitness after a minor operation on my elbow and waiting patiently for a date from my promoter Eddie Hearn on a rematch in September.

“The people of Leeds have given me so much support over the years and after the pandemic I wanted to give them something to look forward to in the city and my dream was to avenge the only loss of my career, at Headingley Stadium.

Josh Warrington congratulates Mauricio Lara. (Picture: Dave Thompson)

“Unfortunately the application from Leeds City Council has been rejected which is a huge setback not just for me personally but to the people of Leeds who have always supported me.

“Headingley Stadium has a fantastic history which dates back to 1890 and I wanted to be a part of the first-ever boxing match to take place there.

“Headingley is a fantastic area of the city, with it’s vibrant atmosphere and people living in the area from all over the world, it’s a perfect destination for people to come together, support the local community, enjoy themselves and support me in my comeback fight.

“To give those memories back to my fans is something that I think about every day and I won’t let them down on the journey we have shared together.

“Leeds Rhinos and Matchroom Boxing have submitted an appeal to overturn the decision, we’re all hoping for the right outcome.

“And here I am today appealing to the council to overturn the decision and grant the Leeds Rhinos and Headingley Stadium a licence to host my fight in September.”

It is understood the appeal appeal to the stadium’s application to hold two boxing matches per year is listed for 2pm on August 27, at Kirklees Magistrates Court.

If Warrington and Matchroom have to wait that long for the decision to be overturned it would not give them enough time to plan or promote the fight.

Both Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire County Cricket Club recently invested £46m in the redevelopment of Emerald Headingley.

For Warrington it is particularly crucial that he gets back fighting in front of his home crowd. He has enjoyed two of the best nights of his career fighting in front of packed venues; defeating Lee Selby in May 2019 at Elland Road to win the world title, and then Carl Frampton seven months later at Manchester Arena.

He suffered a shock defeat to Lara when fighting in an empty Wembley Arena in February.

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