Eddie Hearn has expressed his joy and delight at teaming back up with Josh Warrington.
The Matchroom head honcho recently rekindled his relationship with the IBF featherweight world champion after he split with Frank Warren.
Warrington left Hearn in pursuit of bigger opportunities, having won the British, Commonwealth and European titles as well as a plethora of ranking baubles with various sanctioning bodies.
Warren was the man to get the Leeds ticket seller, thanks to his manager Steve Wood, and what followed was quite the story.
‘The Leeds Warrior’ (30-0, 7 KOs) made a defence of his WBC International featherweight title before taking on Dennis Ceylan in a final eliminator for Lee Selby’s world title.
That shot at Selby came at home –– at Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium –– and the win snowballed into a pay-per-view headline attraction against Belfast’s Carl Frampton, a former two-weight world champion, at Manchester Arena.
Since then, 29-year-old Warrington outpointed his mandatory challenger in Kid Galahad at the First Direct Arena in Leeds before ousting number four-rated Frenchman Sofiane Takoucht in his last outing as recently as October.
It seemed that unification fights were now the order of the day, with potential showdowns mooted with WBO champion Shakur Stevenson and even WBC kingpin Gary Russell Jr.
But they didn’t happen, Warrington’s contract with Warren and Queensberry expired and it was revealed on Wednesday that the journey had moved full-circle as Hearn welcomed Warrington back to the Matchroom Boxing team.
“It’s been amazing to watch Josh’s development since we first parted company,” said Hearn at a press conference in Leeds on Thursday. “What he’s done has been sensational. When you talk about the best atmospheres in boxing, you talk about [Carl] Frampton in Belfast and Lewis Ritson now in Newcastle, but Leeds was second to none with the energy we used to feel when we came out.
“Unfortunately, I’ve had to watch the great nights that Josh has had without me and Matchroom and it has been sickening.”
Warrington and manager Wood had worked their way up from small-hall team to world champion, from dental technician to world number one, and Hearn is ecstatic to have him back on his side, back with Sky Sports and, arguably, more importantly, Stateside on DAZN.
“This is the number one featherweight in the world and now I feel like it’s time to go and have those away days in America, to establish that legacy internationally, and the absolute focus must now be the unification fights.
“All four of the champions have been on the phone and the unification is the target to try and get it finalised over the next two weeks.”
Hearn revealed that Can Xu, the WBA ‘regular’ champion, and the sanctioning body’s Super champion Leo Santa Cruz are also under consideration.
“These big fights, for me, have to happen in Leeds,” Hearn continued, “and we’ve had discussions about doing the fight at Headingley.
“The American experience is another thing that we could do next, but we know Kid Galahad is mandatory and that’s something which, as a champion, Josh has to focus on at some point.”
Sheffield man Galahad –– who was on the wrong end of a split decision last June –– retired Claudio Marrero in a final eliminator earlier this month at the FlyDSA Arena, as part of the supporting cast to Kell Brook’s return from a 14-month hiatus against Mark DeLuca in which he won the vacant WBO Inter-Continental super-welterweight title and is somewhere on the radar.
“But,” Hearn concluded, “right now the absolute priority is unification fights in Leeds.”