Josh Warrington’s promoter isn’t as sure as Warrington that Gary Russell Jr. is the right opponent for him.
Nevertheless, the unbeaten IBF featherweight title-holder is completely confident in his ability to beat boxing’s longest-reigning champion. Warrington spoke about Russell, who owns the WBC featherweight title, during an Instagram Live interview with Eddie Hearn, Warrington’s promoter, on Monday.
“I don’t know,” Warrington said. “Sometimes fighters just get a gut feeling and sometimes you’ve gotta run with that gut feeling. Just like with the [Lee] Selby fight, I seen many things where I thought that we could expose, and I see it with Gary Russell. You know, he’s a great fighter. He’s got a lot of speed, but he’s there for taking. He’s there for the taking and he’s got a green and gold belt, man, the WBC belt, so I love that fight as a massive scalp. But in the same respects, the Can Xu fight will be an excellent fight as well.”
Hearn announced Monday that the 29-year-old Warrington will face China’s Xu in what will be a 126-pound title unification fight on an undetermined date during the summer.
Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs) and Xu (18-2, 3 KOs) will meet at Emerald Headingly Stadium, a cricket and rugby complex in Leeds, England, Warrington’s hometown. The date of their fight will be announced once the coronavirus pandemic ends and normalcy is restored within the boxing business.
Xu, 26, owns the WBA’s world featherweight title. Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs) is the WBA’s “super” featherweight champion, but he moved up to the 130-pound division for his last fight.
Hearn stated during their Instagram Live interview that the three opponents he and his matchmakers discussed with Warrington were Xu, Russell (31-1, 18 KOs) and WBO featherweight champ Shakur Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs).
Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Newark, New Jersey, has been lobbying for a fight with Warrington in Leeds. The 22-year-old southpaw was supposed to make his first title defense against Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga (29-3, 25 KOs) on March 14 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater, but that entire card was postponed due to coronavirus concerns.
Russell, 31, most recently made a mandatory defense of his WBC belt by out-boxing Mongolia’s Tugstsogt Nyambayar on February 8 at PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The Washington, D.C., native overcame Nyambayar (11-1, 9 KOs) by comfortable margins on all three scorecards (118-110, 117-111, 116-112).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.