Leeds boxer Josh Warrington warming to TV-only match-ups

Josh Warrington would reluctantly agree to a unification fight behind closed doors against Can Xu later this year but the Leeds featherweight would “feel guilty” at his sizeable contingent of supporters missing out.
JUST CHAMPION: Josh Warrington celebrates after beating Sofiane Takoucht at Leeds Arena last October. Picture: Steve Riding.JUST CHAMPION: Josh Warrington celebrates after beating Sofiane Takoucht at Leeds Arena last October. Picture: Steve Riding.
JUST CHAMPION: Josh Warrington celebrates after beating Sofiane Takoucht at Leeds Arena last October. Picture: Steve Riding.

A bout which would have seen Warrington’s IBF title and Chinese fighter Can’s secondary WBA crown put on the line was close to being finalised at the rugby ground of Headingley Stadium, only for coronavirus to scupper those particular plans.

The British Boxing Board of Control has intimated it will not give the go-ahead for a resumption once restrictions on movement are lifted as it is wary of overburdening the NHS at a time when emergency services are under pressure.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It is highly likely boxing shows will, at least initially, return without spectators in attendance, which would leave Warrington facing a dilemma as he recognises how important and enthusiastic his army of fans are.

PLENTY TO PONDER: Promoter Eddie Hearn. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.PLENTY TO PONDER: Promoter Eddie Hearn. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.
PLENTY TO PONDER: Promoter Eddie Hearn. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

However, Warrington knows that, if promoter Eddie Hearn offered the opportunity to unify the 126lb division in the next few months, it would be too tempting to turn down.

Warrington said: “If Eddie said ‘listen, you’re going to have to fight behind closed doors for a unification or you wait until next year but it’s not going to happen’ then I’d scoop up the unification fight.

“I’d feel guilty a little bit because there are a lot of fans who have been coming since day dot and have not missed a single fight and there are a lot of fans who sacrifice a lot just to be there.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It’s an occasion, a lot of them feel like they’re in there with me and I couldn’t imagine having to force them to sit at home and watch it on the telly.

TOUGH TIMES: Promoter Frank Warren. Picture: Chris Etchells.TOUGH TIMES: Promoter Frank Warren. Picture: Chris Etchells.
TOUGH TIMES: Promoter Frank Warren. Picture: Chris Etchells.

“I can imagine a few of them saying ‘surely you can just get me in, Josh, and I’ll stand at the back or something’.

“But, if that’s what it would have to be to make sure that we got the big fight, then it would have to happen like that.”

As the crisis lengthens, the window of opportunity for fighters competing this year shortens, which has led to fears of a logjam and rival promoters staging separate events on the same day.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Having been promoted by both Hearn and Frank Warren during his unbeaten 30-fight professional career, Warrington believes the pair should either work together or through intermediaries to make sure fans are not short-changed.

Warrington knows how detrimental that can be for all parties as his spectacular win over Carl Frampton in December 2018 took place on the same night as the grudge heavyweight rematch between Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora.

And Warrington said: “That was a nice lesson for both promoters on that day because they both missed out and lost out and obviously it wasn’t fair on the fans. I don’t think they’d want to do that again.

“Obviously there will be a lot of fighters who want dates and the shows are going to come thick and fast, which is probably going to be good.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“A bit of communication in some way, shape or form would be good.

“Maybe if it’s not directly between the promoters but if they did it between the TV networks, maybe get a schedule of their dates and they can shuffle around.

“Maybe one week Sky go on Saturday and BT go on Friday and then next week they alternate.

“There are ways and means of doing it but avoiding big shows on the same day, that’s what needs to be avoided.”

***

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Editor’s note: First and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected]. Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting www.localsubsplus.co.uk where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

Sincerely. Thank you. James Mitchinson, Editor