Josh Warrington warns that 'talent' Shakur Stevenson 'hasn't been in deep water situations'

"He talks confidently about coming over to the UK and fighting me in my back yard. But he hasn't been in those kind of scenarios"

Josh Warrington
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Warrington wants featherweight unification fights

Josh Warrington insists that Shakur Stevenson's opponents have been "tailor-made" for him, and has warned that he plans to establish himself as No 1 in the division.

Undefeated IBF featherweight champion Warrington is targeting the other belts in his weight class with American southpaw Stevenson, who has the WBO title, top of his list.

"I'm open to that fight," Warrington told The Boxing Show on Sky Sports. "I've made it clear that I'm happy to fight any of the other champions, I want their names on my CV.

Stevenson is the WBO featherweight champion
Image: Stevenson is the WBO featherweight champion

"Stevenson is a talent. He's young, a former Olympian, he has a lot of people around him building him up. He's looked good in all of his fights so far.

"Everyone he's boxed has been tailor-made for him. He hasn't boxed someone who will close him down with educated pressure. People approach him in straight lines.

"I'm not saying he wouldn't be a tough fight. But he hasn't been in deep water situations.

"He talks confidently about coming over to the UK and fighting me in my back yard. But he hasn't been in those kind of scenarios.

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"I don't worry about him getting better and better. Some people peak early. He's a big featherweight - I want to fight him sooner rather than later, not because I'm worried about him improving, but he's mentioned that he wants to move up divisions.

"I want to keep fighting the big names, keep proving people wrong. People think: 'Stevenson will give Josh a good fight, he's a tricky southpaw'.

"Let me have that challenge!

"It's a great fight. If we can get it in the 12 months, then fantastic. Him or Gary Russel Jr - the WBC belt is a beautiful belt! Gary has been champion for over five years now."

Can Xu is the WBA featherweight champion
Image: Can Xu is the WBA featherweight champion

Warrington had been in negotiations to face WBA featherweight champion Can Xu prior to the coronavirus pandemic and is hopeful that the fight can be resurrected.

"We were more or less over the line, getting the final Ts and Cs over the line," Warrington said. "Obviously making a huge unification fight doesn't happen overnight.

"We were at the stage of having a date finalised. We looked like we were on.

"It still looks like it will happen later in the year.

"The WBA and IBF are involved, all the officials, they all need the all-clear. A lot of factors are involved before we can get a date locked on."

A rematch with Yorkshire rival Kid Galahad, who Warrington defeated last year, could also be on the cards.

"He's my mandatory challenger," Leeds' Warrington said. "I don't want to give up belts, I've had three defences of that title.

"I did what I had to do to win, and I believe I'd do it again. Having learned from the first fight I'd make it easier."

Josh Warrington celebrates winning the World Featherweight Championship against Carl Frampton at Manchester Arena.
Image: Warrington has a 30-0 record

Warrington also has options in the division above: "Leo Santa Cruz, Oscar Valdez are still exciting fights. Joseph Diaz has just become IBF super-featherweight champion and we almost fought a few years ago. There are many options."

Warrington, whose breakout year in 2018 saw him claim upsets in world title fights against Lee Selby and Carl Frampton, is 30-0 and hopes for a chance to box in the United States.

"It gets me excited! I grew up watching Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe going over there," he said. "I was there when Carl Frampton boxed Leo Santa Cruz for the second time.

"I would love to take my fans out there.

"We've been talking about it for a long time, me going to the States. If I get a shot to go out there, it would be a box ticked for my personal goals. But for those who followed me from the leisure centres in Yorkshire? It would be special."

Josh Warrington, Lee Selby
Image: Warrington upset Selby at Elland Road

He said about beating Selby to become world champion at Leeds United's Elland Road: "They said I'm going to get stopped, I've only got limited ability, I'm only where I am because of my fan-base, I don't have power, I don't have boxing skills, I can't adapt!

"It was a case, for me, of showing everybody what I'm really capable of doing.

"The Selby fight is when I was able to let everything go. Since then it's about being entertainment and doing what I need to do to win.

"These are my peak years. I'm the best I've ever been."

Warrington concluded: "What makes a legacy is who you've boxed in your career. If you fight those names consecutively.

"Potentially down the line I'll look at moving up and becoming a two-weight world champion."

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