Exclusive: I want to return and fight the best, says Josh Warrington

The "Leeds Warrier" talks about his most recent fight with Mauricio Lara, what's next, his world title hopes and predicts Herring-Stevenson.

September 4 was the date for redemption. Headingley Stadium was sold out, and it was the return of big time boxing in Leeds, the stage couldn't have been set better for one of their own.

Josh Warrington - who vacated his IBF world title to pursue bigger fights in the featherweight division - was back in action and back looking for revenge against Mauricio Lara in a highly-anticipated rematch.

The unknown Mexican stopped Warrington in the ninth round to deliver one of the biggest upsets of the year in February.

The stakes could not have been higher. Victory and Warrington was back in contention for the biggest fights at 126lbs. But another crushing defeat and it would leave his career hanging by a thread.

Neither scenario would play out with the bout ending in a technical draw after Lara was unable to continue following a clash of heads in the second round.

It left some 20,000 fans, as well as both fighters, devastated about the result with the fight heating up nicely. A trilogy you ask? Well, it won't be next.

Lara's cut above the left eye will take some time to heal meaning Warrington will have to look elsewhere. With just 11 rounds in the bank this year, Warrington is keen to return to the ring sooner rather than later.

A tune-up fight is likely to be next for the "Leeds Warrier" followed by another potential world title charge. Emmanuel Navarette - who told Planet Sport that he would be open to facing Warrington - holds the WBO strap, Gary Rusell Jr. owns the WBC crown and Kid Galahad won the vacant IBF belt.

Meanwhile, Leo Santa Cruz and Leigh Wood possess the two versions of the WBA title at 'regular' and 'super'.

Josh Warrington is looking to return to the ring as quickly as possible after a frustrating 2021

"I'm keeping myself sharp, ticking over and there are some big fights out there with Gary Russell but I would love to put the Lara situation right but he's not going to be ready for a long time. I've only had 11 rounds (since 2019) so it's just not enough," Warrington told Planet Sport.

"The atmosphere was incredible, I felt like an absolute God. I was switched on anyway because I knew what I was facing this time around. When I got on the platform there were fireworks going off behind me and I could see everyone inside the ground and I was thinking, 'there's nobody beating me whatsoever'.

"I feel like I was warming into the fight quite nicely but the clash of the heads is s**t but what can you do? The only plus point is mentally I can take a lot away from the fight. There was a big difference in the first round of the second fight I could see everything he was throwing at me. I thought to myself 'I'll knock this kid out'.

"I didn't unfortunately. I went into his changing room to look for him but his doctor was in at the time. It's one of those things. It's frustrating because of the language barrier, him reacting like he did but I'm hardly going to bump into him in the city centre am I so it doesn't really matter."

Warrington backs Stevenson to prevail

Rising star Shakur Stevenson will attempt to become a two-division world champion when challenges WBO junior lightweight king Jamel Herring.

Planet Sport Bet has Stevenson an overwhelming favourite to extend his unbeaten record to 17-0 but he is coming up against a fighter who most recently retired British legend Carl Frampton.

Once linked with a fight against Stevenson, Warrington believes the slick southpaw has enough in the tank to outwit Herring, the former US marine.

"I think Shakur might just have the skills, I think it's going to be a very tough fight. Herrington beat Carl Frampton but with his youth and sharpness, I think Shakur Stevenson will put up a better fight. With that being said, Jamel Herring is fit, a big puncher, is tall and awkward so I think it'll be a tough fight but Shakur Stevenson does the business."

"I don't know it depends if the opportunity rises" Warrington replied when asked about whether he would move up in weight like Stevenson to 130lbs.

"I can make the weight quite comfortably, but if I'm given enough notice and we had a good fight out there then yeah I would consider it," Warrington concluded.

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