Boxing

Josh Warrington is targeting a world title unification clash at Headingley Stadium

Josh Warrington’s ‘absolute target’ is a world title unification clash at Headingley Stadium this summer after linking up again with promoter Eddie Hearn.

The IBF featherweight champion has signed a multi-fight deal with the Matchroom Boxing boss, who intends to deliver a career-defining fight against one of Warrington’s rival champions.

Elland Road staged Warrington’s first world title fight as he ripped the IBF belt from Lee Selby and the local favourite could now head to the home of Leeds Rhinos, a 21,500-seater venue.

🥊 Headingley Stadium, then America 🇺🇸@J_Warrington wants one more fight in front of his home crowd before going to conquer America! pic.twitter.com/uHLQxtNhtr

“For me, the absolute focus for Josh Warrington has to be now the unification fights,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “He’s been there, he’s done it, he’s seen it all. Now it’s time to have the major unification fights here in Leeds.

“You look at the champions, Gary Russell, Leo Santa Cruz, Can Xu and Shakur Stevenson. They’ve all been on the phone yesterday. I sent Josh a direct message from Gary Russell, saying ‘Let’s go, we’re ready.’

“For me the unification fight is the absolute target over the next week or two weeks to try and finalise. We’ve already spoken to the guys at Headingley. Straight up, we want to do it there.

“That’s where we want to do it. I see we’ve even got some standing as well. As if the atmosphere wasn’t mad enough. Get them up there, it’s going to be incredible.”

Warrington has already proven himself at the highest level, having made three defences of his IBF belt, including a convincing points victory over two-weight world champion Carl Frampton.

“I believe I beat any other featherweight in this division,” said Warrington “They’ve all got their own little perks. Can Xu, you put us in a phone box, a very entertaining fight. He throws a lot of punches, I throw a lot of punches.

“Shakur Stevenson, that would be a very good build-up and Gary Russell Jr, I think he’s the second-longest reigning champion out of all of the champions. He’s got a green and gold belt as well, the WBC. Either one of those fights are massive fights.”

Hearn revealed that Warrington is also likely to fulfil his ambition of fighting at a major US venue and must also fulfil a mandatory IBF title defence against Kid Galahad, who stopped Claudio Marrero in a final eliminator last weekend.

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