Josh Warrington says his rivals are too scared to fight him

The Yorkshireman is the IBF featherweight champion.

By Press Association Published: 7 August 2019 - 5.12pm

Frank Warren

Josh Warrington

Josh Warrington was once again left frustrated by a unification bout failing to materialise, leading the IBF featherweight titlist to lament: “The other champions don’t seem to want it.”

After a split decision points victory over mandatory challenger Kid Galahad in June, Warrington had high hopes of a Stateside fight against WBO champion Oscar Valdez.

However, Valdez has decided to move up to super-featherweight while WBA beltholder Leo Santa Cruz and WBC champion Gary Russell Jr are apparently uninterested in challenging the Leeds fighter for now.

Warrington will instead return to the First Direct Arena in his home city on October 12 to defend his world crown for the third time against little-known Frenchman Sofiane Takoucht.

The Briton (29-0, 6KOs) said: “I said we’d potentially be looking at a unification fight, I felt there was nowhere else for us to go but it’s not worked out like that. That’s no fault of our own.

“The other champions out there don’t seem to want it and it’s proving very difficult to try to make a unification fight.

“A few of the lads were saying they had their passports ready, putting their savings away and getting ready for a trip to the States. (Promoter) Frank (Warren) and my team tried everything to make it happen.

“I’m just desperate for that unification fight, I want it so bad. I’d be satisfied just to have that one fight against any of the other champions, win another title and call myself unified champion.

Josh Warrington will fight Sofiane Takoucht in October
Josh Warrington will fightSofiane Takoucht in October (Danny Lawson/PA)

“After that I’d just defend the title until the cows come home.”

Warrington became world champion by defeating Lee Selby on a split decision verdict at Elland Road in May 2018 before outpointing Carl Frampton in a barnstorming display at the Manchester Arena last December.

He underwhelmed in his last outing at the First Direct Arena against Galahad, who many thought deserved to have his hand raised, though Warrington believes his fellow Yorkshireman did not do enough.

Warrington said of Galahad, whose real name is Abdul-Bari Awad: “I’ll just apologise for the way the fight turned out. Barry didn’t want to fight. I’m not talking stood toe-to-toe, even a boxing match. He just wanted to hold and survive.

Warrington beat Kid Galahad in his last fight
Warrington beat Kid Galahad in his last fight (Dave Thompson/PA)

“I could have done things a little bit better but out of 29 fights, it’s probably my one bad night at the office. I still got the win and we’re moving forward. They’re not always going to be fights of the year.”

Warrington is therefore eager to atone in front of his home fans against a 33-year-old opponent who has won 35, lost three and drawn once in his 39 professional contests and is placed fourth in the IBF rankings.

Takoucht, speaking through a translator, gave a number of monosyllabic answers during his press conference but, as a former European featherweight champion, Warrington is not taking his next opponent lightly.

He added: “It would be ridiculous for me to think this is a walkover, especially with the last fight, the way that went and my own personal performance.

“I'm just desperate for that unification fight, I want it so bad”
- Josh Warrington

“I want to come back with a bang, not to make a statement to anyone but just to show that I’m a world champion.

“Everyone’s getting giddy about wanting to fight me, everyone who’s underneath me wants to be in my position.

“I just want to show that I’m serious here: I’m a world champion and if I were to step up to any of the other champions, I’d beat them as well.

“I’ve got to show class, I’ve got to bring the best on this night, this is the time to really show that.”