By Jake Donovan
With a mandatory title defense versus already ordered and a purse bid hearing looming overhead, Frank Warren still seems uncertain on next steps for Josh Warrington.
The unbeaten featherweight titlist is due to next face mandatory challenger Kid Galahad in his next fight, with the International Boxing Federation (IBF) prepared to hold a purse bid on Thursday, January 24 at its New Jersey headquarters. The outcome could very well dictate whether Warrington will go through with the contest or head in different direction.
“We will make our minds up in the next few days which direction we will go,” Warren told BT Sport in a recent interview of Warrington’s immediate ring future.
The mandatory title fight was ordered by the IBF on January 7, with the two sides granted a 30-day free negotiations period as is the case with any ordered title fight.
At any point during said negotiations, either side can request the matter go straight to a purse bid hearing pursuant to IBF Rule 10A. Galahad’s promoter, Eddie Hearn requested as such, just five days after the fight was first mandated.
Talks between camps figured to be interesting from the outset, if not a non-starter altogether given the history between England’s two leading promoters.
Warrington (28-0, 6KOs), the 28-year old unbeaten titlist from Leeds, England is with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, while Galahad (birth name Abdul Barry Awad) fights under Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing banner. Warren and Hearn rarely do business together but are willing to do so when the opportunity makes sense.
Apparently, this fight never made enough sense for at least a sit-down.
Warrington signed with Warren in 2017, shortly after parting ways with Hearn with whom he worked with for the prior three years. Warren has network deals with BT Sport in the United Kingdom as well as ESPN’s streaming platform—ESPN+—in the United States, while Hearn has long served as the primary boxing content provider for UK’s Sky Sports, a role he now similarly enjoys in the U.S. market with sports streaming service DAZN USA.
Both boxers last performed on the desired platforms of their respective promoters.
Warrington—who claimed the featherweight title with a points win over Lee Selby last May—made his first defense last December, turning back former two-division champ Carl Frampton over 12 thrilling rounds in Manchester, England. The bout aired live on BT Sport Pay-Per-View in the UK and on ESPN+ in the U.S.
Galahad (26-0, 15KOs) became the mandatory challenger to Warrington’s title following a 12-round win over Toka Khan-Clary in their title eliminator this past October. The bout marked Galahad’s U.S. debut, with the fight taking place in Boston, Mass. and streaming live on DAZN USA.
The 28-year old contender returned to his hometown of Sheffield, England for his most recent start. That moment came last December, earning an eight-round win over Brayan Mairena on the undercard of stablemate Kell Brook’s 12-round victory over Michael Zerafa on a show which aired on both Sky Sports and DAZN USA.
While both sides come armed with lucrative network deals, there’s no guarantee that either lands the promotional rights to the fight. Because the mandatory title fight is now subject to a purse hearing, all IBF-registered promoters are free to bid on the contest. The winning bidder will also have to submit on the spot a 10% deposit of the total purse amount along with proposed dates and locations in order to be accepted.
Of course, there’s little indication that the fight will break the bank as it’s not a major event outside of the United Kingdom. Depending on the outcome of Thursday’s hearing, it’s entirely possible that Warrington and Warren head in a different direction. The win over Frampton was a massive domestic success, no surprise given the challenger's built-in fan-base and Warrington's rising popularity as he's advanced from prospect to contender to champion.
On the ESPN/BT Sport side of the street, there exists the possibility of Warrington pursuing a showdown with unbeaten featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez, who next defends his belt February 2 versus Italy’s Carmine Tommasone. Such a bout, however, would be far more attractive with two belts on the line, which would lead back to Warrington still looking at Galahad as his next opponent.
Because his fight with Frampton was granted as a one-time voluntary title fight exemption, Warrington is obligated to honor his mandatory versus Galahad. The only other option would be to relinquish the title and pursue other avenues, which in turn, would put Galahad first in line for a shot at the vacant title versus the next-highest ranked available contender.