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Eddie Hearn wants Josh Warrington’s unification fight in Leeds

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By Scott Gilfoid: Eddie Hearn said he’s planning on having IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington fight a unification match next this summer at Headingley Stadium in Leeds. Hearn says he’s already been contacted by the representatives for 126-lb champions, Gary Russell Jr., Can Xu and Shakur Stevenson.

WBC featherweight champion Russell Jr. (31-1, 18 KOs) directed messaged Hearn, saying, “Let’s go, we’re ready.” Hearn says he wants the 29-year-old Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs) to “PROVE” that he’s the best featherweight in the world by fighting unification matches. He understands that Kid Galahad is Warrington’s IBF mandatory, but he prefers that he take a unification fight next.

Hearn says Warrington’s next fight will be announced in the next couple of weeks. He plans on moving swiftly to put the fight together for Warrington, and obviously it won’t be difficult. Hearn has already been contacted by the other champions at 126, who can’t wait to get a chance to fight Warrington to take his IBF belt from him .

Hearn looked excited talking about Josh vs. Xu

Although Hearn mentioned wanting to put Warrington in with Russell Jr., Santa Cruz and Shakur Stevenson, he seemed to have a GLEAM in his eyes when he mentioned WBA ‘regular’ featherweight champion Can Xu (18-2, 3 KOs) as a potential next fight for Warrington.

Hearn seemed very excited when he started talking about the 25-year-old Chinese fighter Xu, and started talking about how many punches he and Warrington would throw in a fight.

You can argue that Xu is the weakest link among the current champions at 126 with Stevenson being the best, Russell Jr. #2, Santa Cruz #3, and Warrington #4. In picking Xu for Warrington, Hearn would be spoon feeding Josh someone that is a less of a threat to beating than if he were to fight the other champions at featherweight.

You hate to say it, but Hearn will likely match Warrington in ith Xu next rather than Stevenson or Russell Jr., the perceived top two guys. It would be nice to see Warrington step up and take on Stevenson, Russell Jr. or Santa Cruz next, but Gilfoid sees him being matched against the light hitter Xu this summer in Leeds.

Warrington’s unification fight will be finalized soon

“This is the #1 featherweight in the world,” said Hearn at a news conference on Thursday about Warrington. “The Carl Frampton performance was an unbelievable performance, and he went on and beat Carl Frampton in a great fight.

“For me the focus on Josh Warrington has to be the unification fights here in Leeds,” said Hearn. “You look at the champions, Gary Russell, Leo Santa Cruz, Can Xu and Shakur Stevenson. They’ve all been phone yesterday. I sent Josh Warrington a direct message from Gary Russell, saying, ‘Let’s go. We’re ready.’

“For me the focus on Josh Warrington has to be the unification fights here in Leeds,” said Hearn. “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 Warrington a direct message from Gary Russell, saying, ‘Let’s go. We’re ready.’

“I know you guys are big fans of his,” said Hearn. “At some point as Josh as the champion has to focus on as well, but right now the absolute priority is unification fights in Leeds. That’s what we feel we have to deliver for Josh,” said Hearn.

Will Josh face Stevenson or Russell next?

It’ll be interesting to see if Hearn matches Warrington tough by setting up a fight between him and Russell Jr., Stevenson or Santa Cruz next. Ideally, you’d like to see Hearn and Warrington take the hard road for his next fight, but in reality it’s probably not going to happen.

Let’s put it this way. If Warrington faces Russell, Stevenson or Santa Cruz next, he’ll probably lose. Once that happens, Hearn will need to decide what to do with him. If he has an escape clause in his contract, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Warrington let go at some point. If Hearn keeps Warrington, what can he do with him once he loses his IBF belt?

Coming events cast their shadows before. Look at the guys Warrington has been fighting during his 11-year pro career. It’s been a lot of softer opponents, and weight drained old guys like Lee Selby and Carl Frampton.  Warrington hasn’t fought the dangerous talents: Russell Jr., Santa Cruz or Stevenson. Heck, Warrington hasn’t even fought Tugstsogt Nyambayar or Jessie Magdaleno.

Eddie talks options for Warrington’s next fight

A fight between you and Can Xu, with the amount of punches he threw in his last fight and the amount of punches you threw in your last fight, would be just a breath-taking fight,” said Hearn to Warrington.

“Obviously the Shakur Stevenson fight, that’s the Hollywood fight, and Leo Santa Cruz that you might have to head State-side for, and Gary Russell, a very, very tough opponent as well,” said Hearn. “Which of the fights out of them would you look for as well? He’s [Warrington] not only one of the top pound for pound fighters in Britain, but also one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world.

“Now it’s time to prove that. We’re on the case. You’ll start hearing news in the next couple of weeks about unification fights here [Leeds],” said Hearn.

As you can see, Hearn is already banging the drum hard for a fight between Warrington and Xu. If the idea is to make sure Warrington has a good chance of keeping his IBF belt, then Xu should be the guy.

Warrington will be the ultimate decider in which of the champions he fights next in Leeds. If he’s good with Hearn picking a champion that is less of a threat to him, then he’ll probably go in that direction.

Putting Warrington in Leeds will ensure that he sells tickets. That’s a smart move on Hearn’s part, as he’s not going to be going to be a Sky Sports Box Office PPV type of guy.

Josh wants his next fight at home in Leeds

“I want to fight next in this city [Leeds], and then after that fight around the world,” said Warrington. “I believe I beat every other featherweight in this division. Can Xu would be a very entertaining fight,” said Warrington.


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