Josh Warrington could be set to announce a world featherweight unification fight on Thursday after parting ways with his promoter, Frank Warren, to re-sign with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Group.
The IBF featherweight champion left Matchroom for Warren in 2017 leading to the most prolific period in his career, as he claimed his world title and then successfully defended it against Carl Frampton.
But Warrington’s hopes of a world title unification fight were frustrated.
Thursday’s press conference had been called for the Emerald Headlingley Stadium in Leeds, a cricket and rugby league complex that has recently undergone a major refurbishment, hinting that it will be the venue for Warrington’s next fight.
Speaking after Kid Galahad won an IBF final eliminator at the weekend, Hearn said that he “understood” Warrington would have a unification fight before going for the rematch with Galahad.
That was before any talks between Warrington and Hearn were revealed.
In an interview with SecondsOut Boxing, Warren said that he had been close to a deal with Top Rank for Shakur Stevenson, the WBO champion, to come to the UK in the summer, but the decision by the IBF to call for purse bids for a rematch with Galahad made it difficult to move ahead.
“That’s not a fight that excites me after the last time,” Warren said. “I wouldn’t want to watch that and I wouldn’t want to pay for it. I believe that will be his next fight.
“We did everything we said we would do for Josh. Everything I said I would deliver, I delivered for him and we had some great times together. I wish him well.”
Warrington said that the deal with Matchroom would see him making his US debut, something he had spoken about wanting to do.
Warren said there had been offers for Warrington to box in the US, but they were so low, he would have been taking a pay cut to go.
“The offers were derisory for him to go over there and fight a unification,” Warren said. “Richard Schaefer for one fight said it was going to be such a bad offer he was embarrassed to tell me. But it was what he said it was worth, so we were trying to bring the fight here.”
While Matchroom have no obvious featherweight stars of their own, beyond Galahad, Can Xu, the WBA champion from China, is signed to Golden Boy, which promotes alongside Matchroom on DAZN in North America.
Earlier this week, BoxingScene.com reported that talks for a unification clash between Warrington and Stevenson were at “an impasse” after Stevenson had opted to box in New York in March, making a planned May date for Elland Road, Leeds, for the fight impossible.
The 29-year-old had endured a frustrating last 12 months after a sensational 2018, which saw him claim the title from Lee Selby at Elland Road before beating Frampton in Manchester.
He had set his heart on a unification or a fight in Las Vegas in 2019, but neither happened, as he ground out a close decision win over Galahad in June, before making short work of Sofiane Takoucht in October.
He was hopeful of pinning down a unification in the first half of this year, but when talks broke down for a match with Stevenson, his deal with Warren’s Queensberry Promotions ran out.
A world champion, unbeaten in 30 fights, with a large travelling support, there were likely to have been plenty of suitors for Warrington.
“I’m ecstatic to welcome Josh Warrington back to Matchroom,” Hearn said. “We had some amazing times helping to build Josh in Leeds and now we re-unite at a time when he is the king of the division.
“Josh has some of the most loyal and passionate supporters in sport and we look forward to delivering nights they will never forget. There is so much more for Josh to accomplish and today starts a new chapter in the thrilling Josh Warrington story.”