Josh Warrington has admitted that giving up the IBF featherweight title to pursue other world champions is a risk as there are no guarantees that those fights will actually happen.
Warrington has vacated the title that he won from Lee Selby in 2018 after the IBF refused to sanction a unification fight against either Can Xu, the WBA champion, or Gary Russell Jr, the WBC champion, in April.
Warrington had hoped to face Can in February, but he declined to box in front of no fans, leaving Warrington matched against Mexican Mauricio Lara., which is now a non-title fight.
But the IBF have ordered Warrington to have a rematch with Kid Galahad, his mandatory challenger, whom he beat on points in 2019. Galahad regained the mandatory spot by winning a final eliminator last February.
Yet having seen Can say 'no' at the last minute, Warrington knows there is a risk involved in vacating the title with no guaranteed fight in place and says he has to put faith in Eddie Hearn, his promoter, to make it happen.
“These things do go in your head,” Warrington said. “I give up that belt, but that belt has pulling power.
“All of a sudden who wants to fight someone who can’t really bring a fanbase to the table, because fans aren’t there, is 30-0, will be 31-0 by then, is knocking out people at the higher level, why would we want to fight him? Without the belt, would the likes of Russell still entertain it?
“This is where I have to put the faith into the matchmakers and likes of Eddie to make these fights happen. That comes down to me as well putting on a monster performance (against Lara) so people will be excited to see me back in there.
“It is a little bit too late for me to start changing the person who I am and becoming like a Conor McGregor type on Twitter. I’m never going to be like that or a Ryan Garcia on Tik Tok. My talking has to be done in the ring. There is that frustration, that uncertainty, but I put trust in the team that I believe after February 13 I will be walking into another title fight.
“But the Ring magazine is still one that has massive pulling power. Only the best fight the best now.”
Warrington admits, though, that the prospect of a rematch against Galahad, whom he beat on a messy split decision in June 2019 in Leeds, was not enticing.
“I don't want to be giving up my belt but at the same time I don't want to be going over old ground,” Warrington said. “I just want to be fighting the best.
“You can't be telling me the fans want to be seeing that again, it was an absolute snooze fest. I want fans to be on the edge of their sofa, spilling the takeaway all over as they're watching the boxing and their heart pounding and saying ‘that was a right fight, save that on the planner, don’t delete that, I want to watch that one again'.
“I don’t want them to be turning it off and watching Babestation after round six because it’s an absolutely dogsh-te of a fight, you want to be watching entertaining fights.
“People can see it however they want, there might be some people who think Kid Galahad won the fight, put it down to facts: Compubox had me winning by landing 50 or 60 more punches than him throughout the fight. The fight is not going to be any different if we did it again, he hasn’t got the punch power to stand and trade with me, he’s always going to try to spoil me, it's only going to be a cautious fight.
“I feel like I’ve done everything over here with Carl Frampton, Lee Selby and the Kid. Now, Gary Russell’s there, Leo Santa Cruz is there, Can Xu is there, Emanuel Navarrete is there, I want to test myself against those guys.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for Boxing Scene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.