Daniel Kinahan is a ‘dangerous man’ says Boxing’s Barry McGuigan
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“I have to remind my Mrs who she’s talking to, the No 1 fighter on the planet,” laughed Josh Warrington at Thursday’s pre-fight press conference. The Leeds Warrior, brimming with excitement and ready to release 16 months of frustration, could hardly sit still knowing his return to the ring was finally in sight.
Staggeringly, this is Warrington’s first outing since re-signing with Matchroom last February, before the world transcended into chaos and plans for his all-action unification with Can Xu at Headingley were temporarily scrapped.
That very bout, that Eddie Hearn describes as “one of the best fights in boxing” was later rescheduled at the turn of the year and saw Warrington bravely vacate his IBF strap, following the governing body’s failure to sanction the unification with Xu.
No belt, no crowd, “no problem,” says Warrington, who is on a one-man mission to clean out the featherweight division with Gary Russell Jr and Emanuel Navarrete firmly in his sights.
But first standing before him is Mauricio Lara, an unknown entity on British shores but a fighter that simply cannot be ignored despite being a 25-1 underdog. Compatriot Navarrete described him as the “heaviest puncher” he has sparred, a line that has been the talk of the Matchroom bubble on fight week.
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Warrington is determined to blast off any ring rust or cobwebs in typically enthralling fashion. He’s currently averaging over 100 punches per round on the bags and pads, having also endured 140 rounds of sparring.
And if there has even been a fighter more deserving of the return of supporters, and less suited to boxing behind closed doors without a rowdy crowd singing Sweet Caroline, it’s 30-0 Warrington.
But he is adamant that Las Vegas will be calling his name by the end of the year when he hopes to get his hands on the illustrious Ring Magazine belt against one of the division’s other top dogs.
“It’s going to be different and quite unique. I haven’t been in this scenario at all,” Warrington exclusively told Express Sport.
“Even when I’ve been on the smaller shows, I’ve always had at least five people there including my Mrs, who’s got quite a big gob!
“She can make the noise of quite a few people, so it’s going to be different.
“There’s not going to be people chucking pints and getting all giddy but I’m experienced as well.
“I’ve had 30 fights, headlined 11 shows on TV, I’ve done a football stadium, a box office show in Manchester Arena, I’ve been about. What that brings is experience and once that first bell goes, I’m ready for whatever.”
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Warrington will be wearing Rob Burrow’s name and number on his shorts when he makes his way to the ring at the SSE Arena, as he looks to honour the Leeds Rhinos legend in his campaign to raise awareness for motor neurone disease.
He posted on Instagram: “Many of you know, it’s become tradition I share the ring walk with a Leeds Legend. There was only ever going to be one man for my next fight if restrictions would have allowed. I am honoured and extremely privileged to wear the Inspired by 7 logo on my shorts. MBE Rob Burrow you truly are an inspiration to us all, keep strong and we’re all supporting you and @mndassoc.”
The tenacious and determined Warrington, who uses meditation and visualisation to ease nerves, has welcomed the additional isolation during his fight-week preparation, even claiming it’s something he’d potentially be willing to incorporate into future camps.
“Maybe I rent a house or one of my houses that I’ve got and have the team move in with me, so I’m not too isolated and I’ve got some social but I’m not at home,” he said.
“It’s something that you can add to your armoury, I’ve boxed at home, away from home and out of your comfort zone and that’s a new one. There’s plenty of positives to take.”
Promoter Hearn believes being away from the day-to-day commotion will allow Warrington to sharpen his tools, as he prepares to put on a show for his fans back home in Leeds.
He said: “It’s so weird because Josh Warrington on fight week is going out delivering tickets to people…
“When he was first with me, he was going round in his car selling tickets ‘here you are, £40’.
“This was only a couple of years ago but he’s still got that problem of people in his ear ‘Josh I need four tickets’ and here it’s gone.
“Fighters are learning a different side to preparation through being in this environment, you don’t want to take that away from Josh as that’s why people love him, because he’s so down to earth.
“But this is a different kind of environment, the performance will tell us if that’s a good or a bad thing.”
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