By Matt Bevan
Many cities in the UK have a star that they can follow to title glory. Nottingham has Carl Froch, Sheffield has Kell Brook and Liverpool has so many that we’ve lost count!
But one city that was missing a star was Leeds; however that is all going to change. Following his emergence at the end of 2013, when he beat Samir Mouneimne for the Commonwealth title in Hull, featherweight Josh Warrington is now ready to step up to the plate and be that star.
Warrington, who is 18-0 as a professional with two stoppages is preparing for another headline spot in his hometown, when he once again tops a packed bill at the First Direct Arena on Matchroom Boxing’s Oct 4 bill.
As well as the Leeds star, the bill will also include former world champion Ricky Burns, recent world title challenger Brian Rose, WBA ‘Regular’ bantamweight Champion Jamie McDonnell and top super middleweight prospect Callum Smith.
Warrington said: “It’s unbelievable to be headlining these shows; I’ve got to pinch myself to make sure it’s actually happening! It’s really special for me to be on the same show as some of these names, but to be topping it is something else.
“I’ve been on the undercards to British title fights, and cards with people like McDonnell, Scott Quigg and Gary Sykes, but it’s great to be the main man.
“I love the pressure and I thrive under it. I’m a passionate, local lad and I want to bring the glory days back to Leeds. The big shows are happening sooner than I thought they would, but I’m not complaining because every time I box in the Arena is special.”
Hearn clearly has big plans for boxing in the city. The pressure is now on poster boy Warrington to perform and he’s certainly not short of confidence, as he claims he wants to be Leeds’ own version of Ricky Hatton, who had astonishing home support when he used to fight in Manchester.
Josh said: “I’ve not put any pressure on myself by saying I’m going to be the Leeds version of Ricky. I used to watch Hatton and I think the people of Leeds would love someone to follow and I think that person will be me.
“It spurs me on to perform and I know lots of people are going to be at the fight, which makes me step my game up, go out and get that win for them all.”
Warrington has begun preparations for his Oct 4 date, recently sparring Rossington super featherweight contender Maxi Hughes. He is aiming to move on towards bigger and better things this year and into next.
He said: “Everything is going well and I like to get some good fitness work in before I go all out in camp. It means I’m fighting fit a few weeks out from the fight and it gives me an advantage.
“The last few fights for me have been brilliant and my progression has been great. It was a while before I could get on that title trail, but when the opportunity came, I took it with both hands.
“The English title was a good start and the fight for the Commonwealth title came at exactly the right time. To add the British as well in my last fight, in the Arena was amazing.”
To win the prestigious Lord Lonsdale belt, Warrington had to get past experienced Belfast campaigner Martin Lindsay, although he cruised through his latest test, winning comprehensively on all three cards.
Warrington admits that it is definitely on his radar to win the British title outright, however the opportunity to go for the recently vacated European title, previously held by Wales’ Lee Selby, or any other international title could well tempt him to once again move up in levels.
“Winning the British outright would be ideal, but if I’m honest I’ll take anything as it comes. Once you get up to this level, all the fights are harder and you’re not going to be fighting journeymen anymore.
“But, I’ve shown that every time I get in with someone of decent calibre, I’ve stepped it up and got the victory. I leave it all up to Steve Wood, my manager and Eddie, as they are going to get me to the top.”