Josh Warrington has labelled Shakur Stevenson a “gobshite” and says he is not bothered whether the American decides to move up in weight rather than face him.
Warrington, the IBF featherweight champion, had hoped for a Spring meeting with Stevenson, the WBO champion, only for Stevenson to back away from a unification and instead announce a fight against Miguel Marriaga in March. That fight was eventually scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic, but before then, Warrington had looked elsewhere, agreeing to a fight with WBA champion Can Xu.
Now Stevenson says he could move up in weight if a Warrington fight doesn’t happen soon, something that the Yorkshireman says he will not worry about.
“He doesn’t bother me and he certainly seems to get a bit more worked up about it than I do,” Warrington told BoxingScene.com.
“He’s a bit of a gobshite. If we did meet, I kind of think the build-up would be more exciting than the actual fight, due to the way he fights. He looks good in some of the highlights I have seen, but all the boxers he has faced are just tailor-made for him.”
Warrington last boxed in October last year, when he made short work of Sofiane Takoucht, and he had high hopes that a fight with Stevenson could be set up for Spring this year in Leeds.
When Stevenson declined, though, Warrington switched promoters to Eddie Hearn and had a fight pinned down with Xu, which was due to take place at Headingley, the rugby league stadium in Leeds.
“My interest [in Stevenson] dwindled a little bit when he got offered the fight last year and he said he didn’t want it because he was not getting enough money,” Warrington said. “Then we were looking to get the fight on again [in Spring] but he had already scheduled himself up to fight in March against some unknown.
“So when I asked ‘why is he having that fight?’ his guys turned round and said ‘we’ll fight Josh after this fight’. But at that stage I wasn’t prepared to wait that long.
“I’m not going to wait for him when there are other challenges out there. There is Gary Russell Jr, Can Xu. I don’t really need him because there are big fights out there, he needs me.
“Let’s have it right, he doesn’t have the biggest of fan bases out there, even though he is an Olympic medallist, he doesn’t have the biggest profile.
“I think he knows that if he fights me, he gets a big payday, if I fight him, he is a brilliant name to have on my record, but at the same time, so is Gary Russell Jr and so is Can Xu. If he is willing to wait around, I’ll fight him, but of he is going to throw his toys out of his pram and carry on, then let him do so and he can move up and fight some nobody for a lot less money.”
At 29, Warrington is seven years older than Stevenson, although he says he doesn’t follow the logic that his best chance to beat the American is now.
“People have said to me I need to fight him as soon as possible because he will become better and better,” Warrington said. “Well, I’m not too sure about that. Maybe that is true, or maybe he is peaking now. People peak at different times, especially in the smaller weights. I don’t know if he is trying to cash in early.”
“I’d rather fight him than him move up, because I don’t want to miss out on a big fight.
“But if they wanted the fight straight away they would have taken it. Last year they were saying he needed more experience and wanted one more fight, now, all of a sudden, he is experienced enough. He needs to make his mind.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for Boxing Scene. He worked for nearly two decades at The Times, where he was Boxing Correspondent - 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.