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Josh Warrington vs Can Xu in the works as IBF king targets Headingley outing

Having rejoined Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing, Josh Warrington targets defining fights, with Can Xu emerging as the front-runner, writes Elliot Foster

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Josh Warrington at Headingley (Dave Thompson/Matchroom Boxing)
Josh Warrington at Headingley (Dave Thompson/Matchroom Boxing)

Josh Warrington is closing in on a featherweight unification fight after rejoining promoter Eddie Hearn.


The IBF champion’s contract with Queensberry Promotions had expired and he decided to head back to Matchroom Boxing –– just over three years after their first stint together ended –– after the mutual decision to part ways was confirmed by Frank Warren on Wednesday.


Warrington has been out of the ring since ousting Sofiane Takoucht of France back in October and has long craved big fights. Shakur Stevenson, the WBO champion, had been mooted as a potential future foe, but it seems that China’s WBA ‘regular’ champion Can Xu is the front-runner to be in the opposite corner to the 29-year-old when he returns.


“It’s great to be back with Matchroom, Sky and now DAZN and I’m very excited about the future,” said Warrington. “I have enjoyed my time at BT but now I’m looking forward to going on to achieve my dreams of both fighting in the USA and unifying the division.”


Xu is promoted by Golden Boy who are tied in with broadcaster DAZN in the US –– the same company Hearn is under contract with in the States –– and I understand that talks are already underway for Warrington to face the belt-holder.


Hearn, who along with manager Steve Wood guided Warrington to English, British, Commonwealth, European and a plethora of ranking baubles with various sanctioning bodies, has hinted that the other champions in the division have already been in contact.
And ‘The Leeds Warrior’, who had his defining night against Lee Selby at Elland Road back in May 2018 before beating former two-weight king Carl Frampton in a pay-per-view-headlining world title defence in December of that year at Manchester Arena, is eager to cement his legacy by taking on the big boys in the 126-pound division.


“It’s about making memories for me now and Eddie [Hearn] and Matchroom have got the connections,” Warrington said at a press conference in Leeds on Thursday. “I’m only for the big fights and obviously there are plenty of fights out there to keep me busy, but Eddie has said he’ll deliver everything he initially offered and I believe he will do so.”


The move back to Matchroom came after a chance meeting between Hearn and Warrington’s manager Wood. Hearn is understood to have asked for a meeting after it came to light that Warrington’s deal with Warren was coming to an end.


“The win at Elland Road, for the world title, is a box ticked for me and it’s something that will stay with me until the day I die and that’s done now,” Warrington added. “But can you imagine a Shakur Stevenson or a Can Xu or a Gary Russell Jr walking out at Headingley [Stadium, site of the press conference]? They wouldn’t know what had hit them and it would just capture the city again.
“A unification fight over here would be the final box ticked in terms of achievements over here and then, after that, it’s time to just travel around the world. Any of the big fights excite me, it’s about being part of the big nights.
“When I first turned professional, I never thought I’d achieve a world title fight, never mind win one. We set a goal and I just wanted to win a British title and now, with that world title around my waist, I believe I can beat them all.”

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