By Jake Donovan
Opting to move forward following his near-flawless performance versus Joel Brunker last October, Josh Warrington begins 2016 with a bang. The unbeaten featherweight continues his bold march towards featherweight contention as he next faces Japan’s Hisashi Amagasa.
The bout will take place on April 16 at First Direct Arena in Warrington’s hometown of Leeds, England. Already on the show - as previously reported by BoxingScene.com - is the bantamweight title eliminator between Stuart Hall and Rodrigo Guerrero.
“This is a massive night for both Josh and Stuart,” said promoter Eddie Hearn of the Sky Sports-televised event.
Warrington (22-0, 4KOs) is currently angling for a featherweight title fight with Wales’ Lee Selby. The 25-year old contender was convinced the time has arrived for big fights after a 12-round shutout win over Brunker last year.
Other than gaining hometown advantage for the fifth time in his past six starts, Warrington is certainly not looking to travel the path of least resistance.
There existed behind-the-sceen talks of a possible showdown with Ireland’s Patrick Hyland. Such a fight never advanced beyond the conceptual stage. as Hyland is being groomed for a potential springtime title fight versus reigning WBC champ Gary Russell.
Ahead of his own title quest, Warrington is delivered a tall order – literally.
The 5’10½“ Amagasa (30-5-2, 20KOs) has won two straight since an 11th round stoppage to Guillermo Rigondeaux in their Dec. ’14 World super bantamweight championship fight.
“Josh is hunting a summer clash with IBF champion Lee Selby, so he cannot afford any slip-ups against Japanese banger Amagasa,” notes Hearn.
The same can be said for Hall (19-4-2, 7KOs), the former bantamweight titlist looking to once again fight for his old belt.
It was a dream come true for Hall upon outpointing Vusi Malinga for the vacant bantamweight title in Dec. ’13. With such glory came a nightmarish title reign, consisting of a technical draw followed by a split decision loss to Paul Butler in relinquishing the strap in June ’14.
Efforts to ignite a second title run where thwarted by Randy Caballero, who scored a decisive points win in their Oct. ’14 vacant title fight.
Hall has won three straight moving into his final eliminator with Guerrero (24-5-1, 16KOs), a former super flyweight champ who has won five straight. A win by Hall will put him in line for a rematch with reigning titlist Lee Haskins, against whom he dropped a lopsided 12-round decision in July ’12.
Both fighters have shown drastic signs of improvement since that night. However, for the 35-year old Hall, every fight these days comes with the possibility of a loss forever dashing any hope at one more title run.
“It would be a great story if Stuart could get his hands on the IBF belt once again – and he knows that this could be his last chance,” acknowledges Hearn. “Guerrero will be a handful for the Darlington man, but I know Stuart is desperate to land a fight with Lee and settle the score.”
Tickets are sale to Matchroom Fight Pass members from midday tomorrow (Tuesday February 16) with tickets priced at £30, £40, £60 and £100 and VIP tickets priced at £150 available from the Fight Pass area at www.matchroomboxing.com.
Remaining tickets in the £30-100 go on sale to the general public beginning Wednesday, February 17 and will be available from the First Direct Arena at www.firstdirectarena.com and on 0844 248 1585.
VIP tickets priced at £150 are available exclusively from Matchroom Boxing at www.matchroomboxing.com.
Tickets for April 16 are also available from StubHub (the official ticket partner and marketplace of Matchroom Boxing) at http://www.stubhub.co.uk/matchroom-boxing-tickets.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox