Josh Warrington insists he cannot afford to look past unheralded Mexican Mauricio Lara ahead of potential lucrative showdowns against featherweight rivals Gary Russell Jr or Can Xu later in the year.
Leeds fighter Warrington, 30, vacated his IBF featherweight title after the organisation refused to sanction a proposed unification bout, and instead pushed for him to again face mandatory challenger Kid Galahad.
Hopes of meeting Can, the WBA’s ‘regular’ champion, on February 13 failed to materialise as the Chinese boxer was reluctant to fight in an empty SSE Arena at Wembley.
— Josh Warrington (@J_Warrington) February 9, 2021
Warrington, though, maintains there can be no room for complacency or lack of focus on the immediate task in front of him when he returns to the ring for the first time in 15 months.
“It is up to me to do a good job to keep the big fights alive and it is the winning which does that,” Warrington said.
“If you get beat, then you are not looking at the big unification fights any more, it is just building yourself back up.
“We have worked too hard over the years to allow that to happen.
“Obviously there is a massive dangling carrot in front of me – get through this one fight and there could be potentially an even bigger one, with more baubles on the line.
“But all of my focus has been on Lara, watching clips of him, obsessing, looking at his record, his style.
“I have been finding pictures of him on Google to get images of him in my head, because it is him who is going to be trying to stop me on Saturday night.
“You can get complacent, think it is going to be a given and then that is when things can go wrong, so I am ready.
“There is never an easy fight, no matter what promoters, managers or trainers say. It is sport, it is never a written, you still have to go out there and perform.
“I know I have to get past him to make these other fights happen, but that dangling carrot will get squashed and other big fights go out the window if you get beat.
“I am 30 years old and don’t want to be adding another two years on to my career because I have had a bad night, taken my eye off the ball or focussed too much on the fight in front.”
Saturday’s show at Wembley will see boxing resume in Britain after officials had banned all events following a surge in Covid-19 cases across the country.
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) February 9, 2021
Warrington’s last contest was against Sofiane Takoucht during October 2019, but the 30-year-old insists he is as motivated as ever.
“When fighters retire and then get back in the ring again, it must be what it is like,” the ‘Leeds Warrior’ said.
“Coming back after 15 months out and with the way we are doing fight week now in a bubble and everything else is a little bit weird.
“It has been a tough year sat on the sidelines, but I have kept motivated and cannot wait to throw leather again.”