Warrington bids to be Euro star

  • By: Simon Crawford
  • Last Updated: August 27 2014, 21:26 BST

Leeds featherweight Josh Warrington has vowed to reward his army of fans by being crowned European champion on October 4.

Josh Warrington: Bidding to become a European champion
Josh Warrington: Bidding to become a European champion

The unbeaten Yorkshireman will have hometown advantage when he challenges Italian Davide Dieli - 12 years his elder - for the vacant title at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, live on Sky Sports.

A hugely successful year for Warrington will hit another high if he adds the European title to his British and Commonwealth belts.

The 23-year-old (18-0 2KOs) has already picked up wins over respected domestic rivals Rendall Munroe and Martin Lindsay in recent months.

But landing the European strap against the tough Dieli (15-3 5KOs) will surpass even his own expectations.

"Fighting for the European title at Leeds Arena is the stuff dreams are made of and it's not easy to put into words what it means for me," Warrington told sportinglife.com.

"Previously the pinnacle for me had been the British title but I managed to win it and there is always progression after that. I’m going to grab this opportunity with both hands and on October 4 there will be a new European champion and he will be from Leeds.

"I think winning fights makes me feel as though I’m now ready for the next level. The names I’ve beaten in my last couple of outings (Munroe, Lindsay) were tough, but I’ve been beaten them so there is plenty more to come from me."

Warrington packed the Leeds Arena in May when he defeated Ulsterman Lindsay for the vacant British title and he admits he can't wait to do it all over again.

"It was unbelievable experience to walk out at the Leeds Arena, with ‘Marching on Together’ playing and the getting into the ring to see so many people," he said.

"It was very special but I think October 4 could be twice the numbers and twice the noise! Fighting for titles is a fantastic experience, but to do it in front of your own fans when you know they’ve come out to see you is brilliant. It makes me want to perform well for them.

"I don’t know too much about Dieli other than he has bags of experience and he’s been champion before so he knows what it’s like to be up there. But he’s coming into the lion’s den, it won’t be easy for him and he’s in for a tough night."

Warrington has so far juggled his flourishing boxing career with his job as a dental technician, but now he is progressing steadily up the featherweight ladder he has decided that boxing must come first.

"I’ve put work on the back burner for the time being – I’m having some time away and then I’ll see about going back part-time," he confirmed.

"I like the job and I work with some great people which is why I keep going back there. But for fights like this I’m training twice, maybe three times a day so there is no time for work. The balance hasn’t been too bad but now the level is going up then I need to have an even greater commitment to boxing.

"I could train four or five times a day if they would let me. My team are telling me to slow it down because I need to be the best I can be. My strength and conditioning are improving – records are in  the gym are always being beaten now so I know I'm going to be in top shape for October 4."

Warrington has signed a five-fight deal with promoter Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing which will ensure all those match-ups will take place in his home city.

Such is Warrington's popularity In Leeds that he has sold over 1,000 tickets in pre-orders.

“It’s great to have signed the deal so that I know that there’s going to be more big nights in Leeds in the next year," said Warrington.

“I have already had orders for over 1,300 tickets and I reckon I might do 2,000 for this one. Against Lindsay it was pretty short notice and on a Wednesday night, so this time there’s plenty of time to promote the show and the fans can look forward to a great night out in the city. The atmosphere was incredible last time and I reckon we’ll top that for this one.”

Hearn expressed his delight at securing Warrington’s services and believes that the popular Leeds man has the chance to become a new fan favourite in British boxing.

“Josh is the biggest ticket seller in the country right now, and we have an opportunity to do something very big in Leeds,” said Hearn. “We dipped our toe in the water in May and now we’re diving in headfirst. It’s a huge opportunity for Josh and I think we could see one of the most memorable atmosphere in a British arena for some time.”

There is also a stellar undercard with former two-weight world champion Ricky Burns beginning life at light-welterweight in a 10-round fight, light-middleweight world title challenger Brian Rose faces Juan Manuel Bonanni, Liverpool’s unbeaten super-middleweight sensation Callum Smith defends his WBC International title and Tyrone Nurse fights for the vacant Commonwealth light-welterweight title.

*** Tickets are on sale now priced £30, £40 and £60 from the First Direct Arena on 0844 248 1585 and at www.firstdirectarena.com. VIP tickets priced at £120 are available exclusively from Matchroom Boxing on 01277 359900 and at www.matchroomboxing.com.