Josh Warrington has vacated his IBF featherweight title after the organisation refused to sanction a proposed unification bout in April.
A showdown against Can Xu, the WBA’s ‘regular’ champion, on February 13 fell through because of the Chinese’s reluctance to fight in an empty arena, leaving Warrington to take on unheralded Mexican Mauricio Lara instead.
While Warrington had hoped to resurrect the deal with Can or organise a meeting with WBC titlist Gary Russell Jr in the spring, the IBF has been pushing for the Leeds fighter to face mandatory challenger Kid Galahad once more.
A purse bid was set to be held on Thursday but Warrington has elected to relinquish his crown to pursue fights against Can or Russell Jr, which promoter Eddie Hearn revealed would be for the prestigious Ring Magazine belt.
“It’s disappointing we couldn’t have the IBF title on the line, but I can’t let those decisions stand in the way of me going down in British boxing history by facing the very best in the division,” Warrington said.
“I’ve always dreamt about winning the Ring belt, for me it leaves no doubt who the king of the division is. Right now, my mind and focus is on Lara and then I’m looking to pick up that beautiful red and blue belt.”
Warrington claimed a razor-thin split decision victory over Galahad in June 2019 but was frustrated by what he perceived to be spoiling tactics from his fellow Yorkshireman.
Galahad, who routinely changed from southpaw to orthodox and grappled with his rival in the fight, believed he should have been given the nod but bounced back to beat Claudio Marrero in an IBF eliminator last February.
Reflecting this week on a potential rematch against Galahad, Warrington said: “You can’t be telling me the fans want to be seeing that again, it was an absolute snoozefest.
“The fight is not going to be any different if we did it again, he hasn’t got the punch power to stand and trade with me, he’s always going to try to spoil me, it’s only going to be a cautious fight.
“He’s very good at making people miss. I don’t want to walk into that fight, if I’m honest, I want to keep on testing myself against the other guys.”
Hearn backed Warrington’s decision, saying: “It’s so important for Josh to be in a mega fight after Lara. He has his heart set on the Ring belt and it’s up to us to make the Can or Russell fights for April or early May.
“I’ve been working hard with Robert Diaz of Golden Boy to close Xu Can and also had several conversations with Luis De Cubas regarding a Gary Russell bout – both fights are fight of the year contenders.”