Impatient Warrington says Wood fight still makes sense, as City Ground battle looks unlikely

The news that Josh Warrington and Leigh Wood are unlikely to fight at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground is not much of a surprise to Leeds star Warrington.

He had feared that the silence meant the rematch was moving further away, and now Matchroom’s Frank Smith has said the date clash with the rescheduled Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk bill in Saudi Arabia on May 18 makes the fight at a football stadium unlikely. 

It also means other avenues are being explored for both fighters, away from each other.

“I have told my manager, Steve Wood, to keep his ear to the ground and his eyes open for other opportunities,” Warrington said, as he began to think the rematch of one of the fights of 2023 might not happen. “Over the last few years, I have done nothing but wait. Some things have been out of the promoter’s hands, like injuries that have set me back. But waiting for a fight is not good. Waiting for a fight when you are an older fighter is even worse.

“I’m in the gym more or less every day. I still feel in fantastic physical shape, and I am working on stuff. My mental game is getting better. I do think to myself that I wish I had the mentality that I have now a long time ago. 

“Time passes, and we are already into the second month of the year. It’s been almost five months since I boxed Leigh, and there have been talks of a rematch since then. It got to about Christmas time, and I thought, ‘You know what? I think it is time to get a safety net’.”

“I can’t wait another 10 months like I did after I lost to [Luis] Lopez. Ten months out is no good to anyone, like I have just said. We do potentially have a few things up our sleeve just in case it doesn't happen. I really just want to be boxing.”

Warrington’s inactivity in recent years has prompted fans and people in the street to ask him whether he’s retired.

The 33-year-old has been exasperated by why he has spent so much time on the sidelines. 

“Obviously, you will have people who will ask me if I have retired,” he said. “No, I have not retired. I just can't do anything until I am in the limelight again.”

Warrington has dreamt of taking his supporters out to Las Vegas for a major fight, and he likely would have taken thousands, but that opportunity is yet to materialise. However, his stablemate Maxi Hughes gets to headline in Vegas first, against William Zepeda next month.

“A few reporters have asked me if he is stealing my limelight,” Warrington joked. 

“Seriously, I consider Maxi as a major inspiration to myself. Over the last few years, his career has gone from strength to strength, and it has been absolutely fantastic to see how he has been able to do it. There is no screaming and shouting with Maxi on social media. What you see is what you get. He is a lucky, kinda guy and is taking opportunities which have presented themselves to him. 

“Over the last few fights, I think he has been getting the credit that he deserves, not just for his recent success but throughout his career. I always thought he was one hell of a talent. 

“Now, he has a massive opportunity in America, in Las Vegas. If anything, it gives me a massive kick up the backside to do it as much as he does.”

Yet it seems a waste not to capitalise on the Wood rivalry, that already seems to have plenty of momentum behind it, and Warrington’s vociferous Leeds crowd is always ready and willing to come out and support him.

“Yeah, definitely,” Warrington added. “We have done it more than once. I have boxed in two stadium fights [Selby at Elland Road and Mauricio Lara at Headingly rugby stadium], headlined the Leeds Arena 12 times and filled the Manchester Arena against [Carl] Frampton. I have always had the support behind me. I think it [Wood] is also a fight that appeals to the neutral; I think they would like to see us go at it again. Prior to the [first] fight, it was all, ‘Leigh is going to do this, Leigh is going to do that’. Then, all of a sudden, after the fight, it ended how it ended, but, ‘Josh looked like he was back to his best.’ So, I feel it would also appeal to more neutral fans, too. So we do have that little bit of history, and if he wants to fight someone else, then don’t have that with me. Boxing needs a story, which will get bums on seats.”

And with big fights shifting from the UK to Saudi Arabia with some regularity, Wood-Warrington would give both sets of fans plenty to shout about.

“This is it, really,” Warrington continued. “We have gone from having lots of big shows to having kind of dried up a little bit over the last year or so, especially on our own doorstep with everything going on in Saudi Arabia. The British boxing fans do want something they can attend, too. If me and Leigh fight, his fans can have a shout, mine can too, and if these kind of nights stop, we will be back looking at what's going on across the pond [in the USA] instead of focusing on ourselves [as a boxing nation]. 

“I have been thinking about moving up to super-feather; Leigh has too, so it really does make perfect sense to fight each other again, especially when the opportunity to do so is already there.”