Josh Warrington will make the first defence of his IBF featherweight title three days before Christmas after an all-British clash with Carl Frampton was confirmed for December 22.
Warrington and Frampton have finalised negotiations for a meeting at Manchester Arena, bringing together the country’s leading nine-stone boxers in a much-anticipated showdown.
Leeds fighter Warrington claimed a world title for the first time with a memorable win over Lee Selby in May, outpointing the Welshman after a bloody battle at Leeds United’s Elland Road Stadium.
Belfast’s Frampton, who held the WBA featherweight crown until suffering the only loss of his career to Leo Santa Cruz in January 2017, set up December’s contest by stopping Australian Luke Jackson at Belfast’s Windsor Park last month.
Warrington was ringside for Frampton’s recent victory and promoter Frank Warren revealed afterwards that he was working to agree a bout between them before the end of 2018. The contest has now been scheduled for the penultimate weekend of the year.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Inside Elland Road podcast earlier this week, Warrington said: “After beating Selby I believe I’d beat anyone in the world. I didn’t get out of second gear (in that fight) and I still think I’ve got more to give.
“When it comes to the big occasions, that’s when I really show what I’ve got. I’m going into this fight with the same belief I felt against Selby. With Selby I tried to exploit what we thought his weakness were. It’s the same with Carl.
“I reached my peak years. Selby’s had his peak years. Carl’s had his peak years and sometimes it’s about timing in boxing.
“It’s funny how it works. I’m world champion at featherweight but in this country Carl’s still ranked above me. At Christmas, to be ranked at number one, that would be not too bad.”
Warrington - a season-ticket holder at Elland Road - has established a large fanbase amongst United’s supporters. Leeds are due to play away at Aston Villa on the afternoon of his fight with Frampton.