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Josh Warrington ready to get back to business against Leigh Wood

Josh Warrington believes his costly slip-up set in motion a chain of events that led to Leigh Wood becoming world champion ahead of their all-British showdown this weekend.

Warrington vacated his IBF featherweight crown in January 2021 to pursue a fight with WBA titlist Xu Can but the following month a tune-up went horribly awry as he was brutally stopped by Mauricio Lara.

As Warrington licked his wounds, Wood stepped up to dethrone Xu while earlier this year the Nottingham fighter avenged his own knockout defeat to Lara by outpointing the Mexican to regain his WBA title.

In the interim, Warrington won back and lost the IBF belt but he can now become a three-time world champion at 126lbs against an opponent he believes has enjoyed success as a result of his setback.

“Credit to Leigh, he’s taken the opportunities that have been put in front of him,” Warrington (31-2-1, 8KOs) said.

“His drive has got him into this position but that position has come through me, technically – he got the opportunity to fight Can Xu because I lost against Lara. His fights with Lara are what’s made his stock rise, Lara became big because of me.

“I’ve been involved in all this and unfortunately for Leigh Wood, I’m going to squash it as well.”

Warrington has previously admitted he was too embarrassed to leave his house in the weeks after the Lara defeat and the Yorkshireman endured a few sleepless nights when he dropped his world title in December last year following a razor-thin majority points loss to Luis Alberto Lopez.

However, neither retirement nor a tick-over fight were options for Warrington, who still harbours ambitions of a Las Vegas bout if he is able to defeat Wood at Utilita Arena in Sheffield on Saturday.

“I didn’t want to be dropping down from world level, I didn’t get stopped, it was a close decision, there were one or two rounds in it and I thought I won,” the 32-year-old added of his loss to Lopez.

“(In the weeks after that) it was probably more on a night time in my head when I was trying to sleep – coulda, woulda, shoulda.

“But you can’t cry over spilled milk, you can only learn from it and the best way to get round it is by putting the gloves back on, getting back in the ring and doing the business.

“I only want to be in big fights. I don’t need warm-up fights or comeback fights.

“I know in my heart of hearts I can become a three-time world champion and still be at the top. You know as a man, a boxer and a person when you’re done. No one else can ever tell you, you know inside.”

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