Eddie Hearn lists Josh Warrington options for next fight

By Scott Gilfoid: Eddie Hearn will be deciding with newly crowned IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington today which direction to go for his next fight following his victory over Kiko Martinez last Saturday night in Leeds.

Warrington (31-1-1, 8 KOs) stopped the old warrior Martinez (43-11-2, 30 KOs) in the seventh round with a blizzard of shots at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, England.

Winning the IBF title was the easy part for Warrington because Martinez was lucky to have the belt after pulling out a sixth-round miracle knockout in his previous fight against Kid Galahad last November in Sheffield.

What’s going to be difficult is for the 31-year-old Warrington to hold onto his IBF title, should Hearn pick a tough opponent for his next fight.

Hearn says these options for Warrington’s next fight:

  • Isaac Lowe – IBF mandatory
  • Leigh Wood – WBA ‘regular’ champion
  • Leo Santa Cruz – WBA ‘Super’ champion
  • Emmanuel Navarrete – WBO champion

Missing from that list is Mauricio Laraa fighter that knocked out Warrington in the ninth round last year in February.

Many boxing fans believe that Warrington owes it to Lara to give him a third fight after head-butting him repeatedly in their rematch, resulting in the fight being halted.

Hearn doesn’t appear to be interested in matching Warrington against Lara, and you can understand that. If Warrington is matched tough against Wood, Santa Cruz, or Navarrete, he probably only has one or two fights left in his career.

Assuming Warrington doesn’t wreck his fights against those guys by head-butting them into submission until they’re a bloody mess, as he did with Lara and Kiko Martinez, it’s hard to imagine him beating those champions.

It’s going to come down to money. Would a unification fight between Warrington and Wood pay more for Josh than a unification match against WBA Super champion Santa Cruz or one against WBO belt holder Navarrete?

If Warrington fights Wood, he’d be battling for his secondary WBA 126-lb belt, not the one that counts held by Santa Cruz. Assuming this is just about money for Hearn and Warrington, not about sport, Wood probably be the better option.

It’s doubtful Warrington can beat Santa Cruz or Navarrete because those guys can fight, but the head-butting could even things out. If Warrington fights Santa Cruz or Navarrete in the US, he probably won’t get away with the head-butting without being penalized repeatedly & disqualified.

It’s a tough decision Warrington must make. Go for the money against Wood or focus on fighting the best by taking on Santa Cruz or Navarrete? At this point, Navarrete is arguably the #1 fighter in the 126-lb division. So if Warrington wants to prove himself as the best, he would need to face Navarrete.

Wood is clearly not #1, #2 or even #3 at 126. The fact that Wood went life & death with the limited Michael Conlan tells all you need to know about what level he’s fighting at.

This writer sees Wood losing to these fighters:

  • Gary Russell Jr
  • Mark Magsayo
  • Leo Santa Cruz
  • Emanuel Navarrete
  • Mauricio Lara
  • Eduardo Ramirez
  • Brandon Figueroa
  • Raymon Ford
  • Isaac Dogboe
  • Ruben Villa

“I’m so happy because it’s been an absolute nightmare, to be honest with you. The pandemic came, he lost the Can Xu fight, he vacated his title, we took Mauricio Lara, and everyone felt it was their fault,” said Eddie Hearn to iFL TV on how things fell apart with Josh Warrington’s career in 2021.

“But he stayed with it, he went to rematch Lara, showed a lot of courage there. That was ended with a cut, and then this opportunity came out of nowhere,” said Hearn about Warrington getting the opportunity to IBF featherweight champion Kiko Martinez despite failing to win his last two fights.

“It was kind of like the opportunity that we kind of deserved because of everything that had happened to him, and he had to win tonight,” Hearn said of Warrington deserved the title shot against Kiko.

“You seen the pressure that he had put on himself and the pressure he put on himself in camp. But everything we dreamed of when he re-signed with us, and everything I sold to him when we resigned him on that little hotel or whatever it was. Now we can do it and that’s important.

“He’s got to go to the hospital,” Hearn said of Warrington. “We’ve got a mandatory [Isaac Lowe]we’ve got Leigh Wood, we’ve got [Leo] Santa Cruz, and we’ve got [Emmanuel] Navarrete. Now, we’ve got to do our work and navigate around things. Let’s not even think about it right now.

“Let’s just remember that he’s got the world championship right back around his waist. He’s a two-time world champion, and we’ll worry about that on Monday,” said Hearn.


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