Josh Warrington vs Mauricio Lara: Can Xu sends warning as ‘Leeds Warrior’ bids to grab champions’ attention

Josh Warrington has been warned to stay unbeaten tonight against Mauricio Lara by his future rival Can Xu, whose “speed and incessant punching” awaits ‘the Leeds Warrior’.

Warrington has promised to knock out Lara within six rounds of Saturday night’s fight, live on Sky Sports from 7pm, to secure a career highlight opportunity against one of the featherweight division’s champions.

He vacated his IBF belt to smooth over negotiations to fight either Xu (WBA), Gary Russell Jr (WBC) or Emanuel Navarrete (WBO) to decide the true No 1, and has received a warning from his future rival.

?RETURN OF THE VAC?@J_Warrington told @ChrisMoyles and @RadioX all about his unusual pre-fight routine… which involves a warm up with Henry The Hoover?

*Other vacuums are available?

“I’m confident that I will be the one who ends Josh’s undefeated record,” ‘Monster’ Xu told Sky Sports.

“A fighter should always believe he can win and keep this big heart from the start until the end. I know a lot of boxing fans don’t believe that I can stop Josh’s record, it doesn’t matter. I’d like to show those people who look down on me what I can do, just like I did every time away from home.

“Speed and incessant punching are my best weapons but Josh has them, too.

“We are both warriors and we also have best teams. That’s why I don’t think there’s a big gap between us.

“The key to victory is not the skills, it’s about our heart. Who has a stronger heart is who wins the fight.”

Warrington was left battling back tears when a scheduled collision with Xu in a world title unification fight at Headingley, home of the Leeds Rhinos rugby league team, was called off.

He is inextricably linked with his home city – he has been joined on ring-walks by Vinnie Jones and current Leeds United captain Liam Cooper, and tonight will wear a tribute to Rhinos’ legend Rob Burrows on his shorts.

Leeds became a cauldron of atmosphere when he upset Lee Selby to become world champion in 2018. Another such momentous occasion is what Warrington is striving to deliver but he must dispatch Lara tonight first.

“The dream match-up is the Xu fight,” Warrington’s promoter Eddie Hearn said. “But I do see Navarrete as a major player.

“Stylistically I would love to see the Xu fight. Two guys with tremendous punch output, all-action, they come forward.

“The perfect 2021 would be Lara, Xu, Russell Jr, Navarrete. That is a hell of a year. Two of those three would be nice.”

A post shared by 徐灿Xu Can (@xucan_monster)

Undefeated in 30, Warrington has described tonight’s opponent Lara as a “banana skin” but the task ahead is to look devastating.

“He’s got a better knockout ratio than I have,” Warrington told Sky Sports.

“But can he do the 12 rounds as well as I can? Has he got as much experience?

“I don’t think he can. But that’s up to me to expose that.

“He’s got punch power but, if I’m not there to be hit, he’ll be hitting thin air.

“It won’t go past six rounds. I strongly believe that.”


Emanuel Navarrete described Mauricio Lara as the heaviest puncher he has sparred… are we set for an upset on Saturday???⚡

Warrington is one of Britain’s most underappreciated boxers – at his peak aged 30, he already has two defining victories over Selby and Carl Frampton but is seeking more.

A veteran of small hall shows with no fanfare, he rose up to win English, British, European, Commonwealth and world titles belts with his father, Sean O’Hagan, as his trainer.

The Leeds lad who once fixed teeth as a dentist and now smashes them as a boxer is one fight away from the biggest moments of his career – but to grab them, he must dispatch Lara emphatically on Saturday night.

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