Featherweight world champion Josh Warrington has cast his opinion on whether his beloved Leeds United can get back on track and secure promotion this season.
The 29-year-old, who is a regular at Elland Road, has special memories of the ground having captured the IBF title against Lee Selby there back in 2018.
It was a special night in British boxing and a spectacle none of the 25,000 in attendance will forget. The ‘Leeds Warrior’ was accompanied to the ring by former Whites skipper Lucas Radebe. The South African achieved legendary status during his time at Leeds and is still fondly thought of in the area to this day.
Warrington, who was at Headingley Stadium on Thursday to announce his blockbuster deal with Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, remains upbeat about the chances of a Premier League return under Marcelo Bielsa.
Leeds have seen their stranglehold on the automatic promotion spots etched away following a poor run of form that has seen United collect just two wins in 11 matches – making Saturday’s clash with fellow promotion hopefuls Bristol City at Elland Road a must-win affair.
Defeat in the fixture could see Leeds slip all the way down to sixth if other results go against them, such is the tightness of the division, but Warrington is adamant they can still end securing one of the automatic promotion spots this season.
“I think so, yeah [on gaining promotion]. We’ve had a little stumble and a recent dip in form but it’s about what happens and where we are at the end of the season so if we can get back into form on the home stretch then I think we’ll be there.
“I see the lads and go to the Thorp Arch to see them train. I just leave them to it and keep quiet in the stands. It depends where it is and then we’ll see.”
Warrington’s next fight is expected to take place in May with Headingley Stadium favourite to host the event. Many names have been touted, with Gary Russell Jr, Can Xu and Shakur Stevenson all interested in a lucrative unification at 126-pounds.
If the fans could choose, Stevenson would be selected from the trio of names mentioned above. It helps that Stevenson, who Warrington referred to as a ‘gob*****’ in the interview, has been calling out Warrington’s name out in recent months.
Warrington believes Stevenson, represented by Top Rank’s Bob Arum, may crumble in front of 20,000+ northerners this summer should he agree to fight him.
“He seems like quite an emotional guy, he screams and shouts so I think he would be probably get a little worked up but I don’t know, he’s never been in that type of scenario before so you don’t know how you’re going to react to it until you’re put into it so we’ll see won’t we.”
By Joe Hewlett – follow him on Twitter