Leeds boxer Josh Warrington will make his first attempt to claim a world title when he fights IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby in May.
Warrington, who vowed to prove himself the “best featherweight in the UK”, has landed a long-awaited shot at a world belt after weeks of speculation about a possible meeting with Welshman Selby.
The pair have engaged in verbal sparring since Warrington installed himself as mandatory challenger for Selby’s IBF belt by stopping Denmark’s Dennis Ceylan at the First Direct Arena in Leeds in October.
Warrington’s 10th-round stoppage of Ceylan extended his perfect record to 26 fights, setting him up for a world title bout. Selby, who has held the IBF title since 2015 and successfully defended it four times, has suffered just one loss in his 27-fight career, a points defeat over four rounds in his fifth professional bout.
He last fought in December when he outpointed Mexican Eduardo Ramirez to retain his title in London.
The venue for his clash with Warrington on Saturday, May 19 will be announced next week but the contest is expected to be staged in Leeds.
Warrington, a lifelong Leeds United supporter, has spoken repeatedly in the past about his desire to fight at Elland Road.
Warrington said: “By winning this fight, not only do I get my hands on a world title but it’s a chance to show everyone I’m the best featherweight in the UK and propel myself onto the world level. For the past three or four years our names have always been mentioned together.
“He’s always been that one step ahead of me and everyone has always looked at him as the number one featherweight in the UK but that will change on May 19.
“It’s going to be an entertaining fight for the fans but there’s only going to be one winner and that’s me.
“He’s not a perfect fighter or a polished fighter. He’s got a lot of weak points and I’m going to exploit them.”
Selby admitted that Warrington, a one-time British, Commonwealth and European champion, “deserved his shot” but said he was already looking beyond the Leeds fighter to a potential meeting in Belfast with former WBA featherweight holder Carl Frampton.
“Let’s see what Josh is made of,” Selby said. “He’s done everything that’s been asked of him so far.
“He’s picked up my vacated titles and beat a lot of my past opponents. To his credit, he’s earned his position as my mandatory challenger and deserves his shot.
“He’s not a perfect fighter or a polished fighter. He’s got a lot of weak points and I’m going to exploit them.Josh Warrington on Lee Selby
“If Josh comes steaming out like he has done in the past that will just play into my hands as I’ll pick him off, like I have done with numerous past opponents.
“If he opts to box on the back foot I definitely can’t see him outboxing me. In fact, there’s no way I can see him beating me.
“The plan is to beat Warrington and then go over to Belfast and beat Frampton too.
“If I beat Frampton then the world is my oyster. This is a huge year for me and by the end of it I’ll prove to everyone that I’m the number one featherweight in the UK.”