Josh Warrington is aiming to add the British featherweight title to his Commonwealth crown against Martin Lindsay at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports – and he’s ready to take on the mantle of Leeds’ number one fighter.
Warrington defends the Commonwealth title for the second time in as many months as he follows one step up against Rendall Munroe with his clash against former champion Lindsay.
The Leeds talent tops the biggest bill of his career in this brand new arena, and after promoter Eddie Hearn said that he could become the flag-bearer for Matchroom Boxing in the city, Warrington is determined to grab his golden opportunity with both hands.
“It’s an honour to be called the flag-bearer for boxing in Leeds,” said Warrington. “I’m a proud Leeds lad and I love everything about the city. Hopefully I can become like Ricky Hatton was to Manchester and I hope we keep coming back for big boxing shows in the city more and more.
“Sky Sports are buzzing in boxing now and I’ve got a massive fight with Martin. He’s beaten some top names and is a former British champ so I’d be a mug to look beyond Martin. It’s a huge opportunity for him too as he’s going to want to get his name back out there so I’ll have to be at my best on Wednesday and I’ve been training hard to make sure I am at my peak.
“People are so excited about the boxing coming here, it’s a great arena and it’s on the doorstep of a major sporting city like Leeds, it’s great for me, the rest of the fighters around here and for the city. Leeds United players say that they want to come down and the Leeds Rhinos boys too. Jamie Peacock is carrying the belt into the ring, which is amazing, so the city is embracing the boxing and that’s great.
“The pressure will spur me on, I’ve driven past the Arena pretty much every day since it’s been built and they did a little animation of what the place would look like with events going on and boxing was a part of it and I thought ‘wow, I’d love to box in there’ and now I am, it’s a dream come true. My first goal when I turned pro was to become the British champion and I’ve trained alongside the likes of Carl Johanneson, Gary Sykes and Jamie McDonnell, guys who have all won the British title and I am so close to joining them now, and to do so in this brilliant new arena is a double whammy. I won’t let myself get tired or overawed by the night because I want this so bad.”
Warrington’s clash with Lindsay is his third fight in six months and he admits it has been a whirlwind time, landing the Commonwealth belt two weeks before his 23rd birthday in November against Samir Mouniemne in Hull and then defending it against Rendall Munroe in April in Manchester.
“The last six months has been a bit surreal,” said Warrington. “After beating Rendall, I had only just got off my stool as he retired and they were asking me if I was ready for May 21, it’s come round really fast but I’m fully focused on it and I want to take these opportunities with both hands and I am ready to do so. It’s been a mad six months winning the Commonwealth title in Hull, defending it against a great fighter like Rendall and now defending it again with the British on the line against another big name in Martin, but I’m the type of fighter that will fight anyone out in front of me.
“If they had said ‘do you want to fight for the European title?’, I would say yes. ‘World title?’ Yes. Fighting the big names in 50-50 fights brings the best out of me and also it’s what the viewers want to see, British boxing is in a great place at the moment and we need to capitalise on that, people don’t want to see fighters in boring fights where one man can’t win, they want the 50-50 ones and this will be a great fight.”
Warrington’s clash with Lindsay tops a great night of action in Leeds as Stephen Smith takes on former world title challenger Mauricio Javier Munoz for the WBC world Silver super featherweight title in a crunch eliminator clash.
Kal Yafai fights for his first pro title as he meets Yaqub Kareem for the vacant Commonwealth super flyweight crown, while his younger brother, Gamal, makes his pro debut and Gavin McDonnell defends his British super bantamweight title against Josh Wale in a Yorkshire derby.
Hull’s lightweight star Tommy Coyle, newly crowned English light welterweight champion Tyrone Nurse, Brentwood’s super featherweight Martin J. Ward and Middlesbrough cruiserweight Simon Vallily are all in action.
Tickets are on sale now, priced at £30, £40 and £60, and are available from the First Direct Arena on 0844 248 1585 and at www.firstdirectarena.com. VIP tickets, priced at £120, are available exclusively from Matchroom Boxing on 01277 359 900 and at www.matchroomboxing.com.
Courtesy of the Matchroom Boxing press office