Eddie Hearn vows to turn Leeds’ Josh Warrington from city star into world star
That is the view of Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, who was recently reunited with the IBF featherweight world champion and now hopes to deliver a career-defining title unification bout at Emerald Headingley this summer.
The man who helped plot Warrington’s early rise had to watch from afar while the former dental technician went on to win a world title at Elland Road under rival promoter Frank Warren. But, having linked up with Warrington for a second time following their split in 2016, Hearn has been waxing lyrical about the Leeds Warrior’s supporters.
“There is no fighter who has a following like Josh Warrington,” he said. “Carl Frampton has a great following, Lewis Ritson in Newcastle, it’s beyond crazy. But those guys, right now, Ritson is trying to become a world champion, while Frampton has been a world champion.
“Josh is top of the tree in the division and his fans come out and they support him. This is on another level.
“Leeds is known for its sporting teams and now they have an individual who is at the top of a worldwide game. They [his fans] love him and they should be proud of him.”
Hearn may well have one of the biggest talents in world boxing on his hands, but he is adamant that Warrington’s appeal is based on much more than just his ability in the ring.
“Josh is always in exciting fights, he always gives 110 per cent and he’s a great ambassador,” Hearn added. “He carries himself well and the city is proud of him. He’s got that street support. He can’t walk down the street without hearing ‘Josh, Josh’, but he’ll go to Elland Road and support his local team and that’s why people love him. You might see him buying his vegetables in Tesco, there’s no living out in the country in his mansion and not setting foot in the city.
“It’s Ricky Hatton all over again and we got to make sure that he goes from popular British fighter to worldwide fighter who goes down as a pound-for-pound great.”
If Warrington is to achieve that, then he will likely have to defeat one of Gary Russell, Leo Santa Cruz, Can Xu or Shakur Stevenson in his next bout.
The plan is for that contest to take place at the 21,500-seater home of the Leeds Rhinos and, having put on some special nights at the First Direct Arena in the past, Hearn says his fighter’s supporters can expect more memorable moments going forwards. He said: “We had some amazing nights at the Arena because, really, we built this from scratch.
“We realised he had this crazy support, we took the chance and we’ve watched Josh go on to win British, European and then world titles.
“So, get excited. Home or away, we are going to have a lot of fun. These are the key moments of Josh’s career. It gets really serious now. There have been some big nights but now we are going to see if he can go from being a big Leeds star to a big international star.”