Josh Warrington said he was ready to take his career “stateside” and move straight onto another marquee fight after a pulsating victory over Carl Frampton installed him as the UK’s number one featherweight.
Warrington climbed to the top of the domestic rankings and became the British fighter with the longest unbeaten run with a brilliant points win over Carl Frampton at Manchester Arena on Saturday night.
A unanimous decision against Frampton at the end of 12 absorbing rounds saw Warrington make a successful first defence of his IBF featherweight title and extend his perfect professional record to 28 wins. Terry Flanagan, the Manchester-based light-welterweight, previously held the record for an unbeaten by a British boxer prior to his defeat to America’s Maurice Hooker in June.
Warrington has ripped apart the nine-stone division by scalping Frampton and Lee Selby, the former IBF champion, in the space of seven months and the 28-year-old wants to throw himself into an immediate clash with another world-title holder next year.
“That’s what we’re prepared to do,” Warrington said. “It’s the momentum that keeps us going.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a long build-up to this one (the Frampton fight). I feel like it’s been coming for a long time but I like it busy. Next year we’ll take the boys stateside and the journey continues – in Las Vegas, or something like that. I wouldn’t mind a little away trip.
“For the last four or five years I’ve been selling out Leeds Arena and even though they weren’t world-title fights, they could easily have been. Now that we’ve pushed through Lee Selby and Carl Frampton, I’m world champion and I want to fight the best. I want to keep going.”
Frampton was ranked as Britain’s top featherweight before Saturday’s bout on account of a career which had earned him world belts at both nine-stone and super-bantamweight but the Belfast puncher last held a major title in January 2017, when he lost the WBA’s featherweight version to Leo Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz continues to hold that title with Oscar Valdez standing as the WBO’s champion. Gary Russell Jr has retained the WBC’s belt since 2015.
Valdez suffered a broken jaw in his last bout against Scott Quigg in March but is due to make his comeback on January 12. Warrington is front of the queue to face the Mexican after being awarded the WBO’s interim title on Saturday night.
Warrington said he hoped that his dramatic performance against Frampton would silence long-standing questions about his ability to cope at the highest level.
“We’ll have to see what social media says,” he joked. “There’ll always be those knockers. Look at Floyd Mayweather. He’s 50-0 and he still gets some but that makes me to the longest unbeaten British fighter.
“I’m not the fastest, I’m not the strongest, I’m not the most intelligent or the flashest boxer but I always wear my heart on my sleeve. Maybe people will start to look at me as having a bit of a chin as well as a punch. I’ve always been able to take one.”
Warrington and Frampton avoided any controversy in the build-up to their clash and spoke highly of each other at the end of a bout which matched its billing as fight-of-the-year.
Frampton admitted that he had been beaten “fair and square” and said he would ponder his future in the months ahead after a second professional defeat.
“Me and Carl both said beforehand that you can go in with full respect and still have a fight like that,” Warrington said. “You don’t have to be bad mouthing each other and you don’t need to trade insults to sell a fight. It’s two sportsmen in their prime wanting to prove who’s the best. It lived up to everything.”
Warrington’s trainer and father, Sean O’Hagan, urged Frampton not to hang up his gloves.
“I don’t think that’s the last we’re going to see of him,” O’Hagan said. “People saying he’s done after that performance? Do me a favour. Carl’s not done yet.”