Josh Warrington is ready for his much-anticipated 10-round featherweight bout with Mauricio Lara but he won’t deny his main focus goes beyond Saturday’s fight. The Leeds Warrior is hellbent on becoming the king of the division. He plans to win the battle and succeed in the war, a war he hopes will lead him to achieve his dream of landing the Ring Magazine belt.
Going into the fight unbeaten, the 30-year-old fighter is a 1/25 favourite with Betfred this weekend. But he hasn’t fought since October 2019 when he defeated Sofiane Takoucht to take his record to 30-0. He had been set to take on WBA champion Xu Can, but when that fight fell through, up stepped Lara.
The 22-year-old Mexican is certainly a dangerous opponent, but Warrington’s experience and nous in the ring should be enough to see him win.
“I don’t think it will go past six,” Warrington said at his pre-fight press conference. “When I put on those little 8oz gloves and the little gaps I’ve seen in his defence I expect an early night but with that being said I’m experienced for 12 rounds! I’ve done those marathons many many times.”
Warrington will be looking to make a statement against Lara as he plots future fights with Can and WBC champion Gary Russell to fulfil his ambitions as top dog. It is such an aim, he vacated his IBF world title after failing to secure the unification bout with Can and later refused the IBF’s order to defend against Kid Galahad in order to make it happen.
Warrington is not going to let anything or anyone stand in the way of him and his shot at boxing glory.
“It’s disappointing we couldn’t have the IBF title on the line, but I can’t let those decisions stand in the way of me going down in British boxing history by facing the very best in the division.
“I’ve always dreamt about winning the Ring belt, for me it leaves no doubt who the king of the division is. Right now, my mind and focus is on Lara and then I’m looking to pick up that beautiful red and blue belt.
“People have messaged me saying ‘Why have you done that [vacated the IBF title]?’ For me it’s not about taking a step back or anything, just taking a different route. I’m not going to be dictated by one organisation or one belt - I believe I can go on and win more and more belts now.”
The fight marks British boxing’s return in 2021 after the sport was halted in January due to the global pandemic and increased lockdown restrictions. And promoter Eddie Hearn believes it is vital for Warrington to get back in action at the start of the year before seeing his name in lights in a possible ‘Fight of the Year’.
“It’s so important for Josh to be in a mega-fight after Lara,” said Hearn. “He has his heart set on the Ring belt and it’s up to us to make the Xu Can or Russell fights for April or early May.
“I’ve been working hard with Robert Diaz of Golden Boy to close Xu Can and also had several conversations with Luis De Cubas regarding a Gary Russell bout – both fights are Fight of the Year contenders.”
First up, it’s Lara on Saturday. But the Ring belt opportunities and Fight of the Year contenders will surely soon follow.