A Headingley title unifcation bout will complete the set says Josh Warrington

Josh Warrington at Emerald Headingley.
Josh Warrington at Emerald Headingley.
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Josh Warrington believes that he will be fulfilling his destiny should he realise his ambition of fighting at Emerald Headingley Stadium in a world title unification  bout later this summer.

And, doing exactly that is the “absolute target” for the Leeds-based IBF featherweight champion after he was reunited Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn this week.

Josh Warrington (left) and Eddie Hearn

Josh Warrington (left) and Eddie Hearn

Warrington, 29, has already enjoyed some special nights in front of his home crowd at both the First Direct Arena and then Leeds United’s Elland Road ground, where he beat Welshman Lee Selby to secure his first world crown.

Next on his wish-list is a date at the 21,500-capacity home of the Leeds Rhinos, on what could well be a career-defining occasion.

“I don’t think there’s anything else that I want to do more in Leeds,” said Warrington of the possibility of stepping into the ring at Headingley.

“No-one expected us to do the Arena or to go on and do Elland Road.

“To do this now, it was destined to happen.

“That night at Elland Road will stay with me until the day I die.

“That was a box ticked and now to fight at Headingley would be so special. 

“Anyone walking out there wouldn’t know what had hit them.

“Fighting at Headingley will be the last thing for me to achieve here in the UK.”

The proposition also appears to be an attractive one to promoter Hearn, who has reunited with Warrington more than three years on from a parting of ways over a difference in opinion regarding what the fighter’s next career move should have been.  

“The early days, looking back at what we started at Leeds Arena, are probably some of the most rewarding days of my career,” Hearn said.

“Now, it is time to have the major unification fights here in Leeds.  

“We’ve already spoken to the guys at Headingley. Straight up, we want to do it there.”

As far as an opponent is concerned, Warrington is spoilt for choice.

“You look at the champions, Gary Russell, Leo Santa Cruz, Can Xu and Shakur Stevenson. They’ve all been on the phone yesterday,” Hearn added.

“I sent Josh a direct message from Gary Russell, saying ‘Let’s go, we’re ready. For me, the unification fight is the absolute target over the next week or two weeks to try and finalise.”

China’s Xu, who has already made two defences of his WBA crown, appears to be the favoured option for Warrington’s imminent Headingley date.

The Leeds Warrior is however confident that he will be able to see off whoever he comes up against.

“I believe I beat any other featherweight in this division,” he said

“They’ve all got their own little perks. Can Xu, you put us in a phone box, a very entertaining fight. He throws a lot of punches, I throw a lot of punches.

“Shakur Stevenson, that would be a very good build-up and Gary Russell Jr, I think he’s the second-longest reigning champion out of all of the champions.

“He’s got a green and gold belt as well, the WBC. Either one of those fights are massive fights.”

A big fight in the USA is also on the cards for Warrington in the not-too-distant future, while a re-match with Sheffield’s Kid Galahad must happen.

“There is the possibility of the American fight as well, next,” said Hearn

“We know Kid Galahad is the mandatory. At some point, that’s something as a champion, Josh has to focus on as well, but right now, the absolute priority – unification fights in Leeds and that is the aim for us this summer.”