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Boxing: Autumn defence looking likely for champion Warrington

Josh Warrington in world title-winning action against Lee Selby. PIC: Dave Thompson/PA Wire
Josh Warrington in world title-winning action against Lee Selby. PIC: Dave Thompson/PA Wire
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JOSH WARRINGTON looks set to make the first defence of his IBF featherweight world title at First Direct Arena this autumn with strength and conditioning trainer Mark Hurley admitting a bout with Carl Frampton in August would be “too soon”.

Warrington became IBF featherweight champion of the world when defeating belt holder Lee Selby at Elland Road on May 19 and the prospect of taking on Frampton in August was suggested immediately afterwards.

Potential Josh Warrington opponent, Carl Frampton - but it might not happen until next year. PIC: AP Photo/John Locher

Potential Josh Warrington opponent, Carl Frampton - but it might not happen until next year. PIC: AP Photo/John Locher

Northern Ireland’s WBO interim featherweight champion Frampton is set to fight at his country’s national stadium, Windsor Park, on Saturday, August 18 with an opponent yet to be announced. And the 31-year-old was ringside at Elland Road to see Warrington’s defeat at Selby.

Warrington said last Wednesday that he would have discussions with promoter Frank Warren and manager Steve Wood: “to see if we can make it possible.”

But the vibes from Warren’s team were already that an August bout would come too soon and one of Warrington’s key men does not envisage the fighter taking on Frampton this summer. Hurley is a pivotal member of Warrington’s team as strength and conditioning coach alongside the boxer’s dad Sean O’Hagan, and Hurley – who owns Dicky’s Gym where Warrington trains – believes everything points to a voluntary defence of the belt towards the end of the year.

Asked about the prospect of Warrington taking on Frampton in August, Hurley told the YEP: “That will be too soon. Josh has just had, relatively, two pretty hard fights against good kids who really came to it in Lee Selby and Dennis Ceylan as well – it was a tough fight that one.

World IBF featherweight champion, Josh Warrington. PIC: Steve Riding

World IBF featherweight champion, Josh Warrington. PIC: Steve Riding

“So I think he deserves a bit of a rest. If you were talking about Frampton in August that would literally mean he would have had to have been back in the gym on Monday. The camp we have just had was near on a four-month camp and in the middle of it all Josh had two baby girls which has a massive impact on your life.

“In a way he has had to sideline what he would have liked to have done if he hadn’t have been fighting. He’d have been a little bit different at home so he’s had to sideline things to a little effect. With the kids at home, he hasn’t really done exactly what he wanted to do, he’s had to have full focus on this camp and everything else had to take second place. I think he just needs to live a little bit of a normal life for a bit and I would say it would probably be a voluntary defence somewhere about October or November at the Arena.”

Warrington’s promoter Warren had already suggested that giving the date with Frampton in August a swerve might be wise in favour of potentially taking on the Northern Irishman next summer at Elland Road. Hurley added: “Now that we have had such a big fight of that calibre against a world-level guy in Lee Selby, it stands Josh in really good stead to fight Carl Frampton.”

Mexico’s Oscar Valdez is the regular WBO champion while there are two other featherweight belts on offer with the USA’s Gary Russell Jr holding the WBC belt and Mexico’s Leo Santa Cruz the WBA super champion.

Mexico’s Abner Mares is the regular WBA champion with Puerto Rico’s Jesus Rojas the interim champion.