Former two-time world champion Josh Warrington says he is “hungrier than ever” as he looks to get his career back on track and win back the featherweight title.
Warrington enjoyed an impressive start as a professional, notching up 30 straight wins and lifting the IBF featherweight crown, but has had mixed results since Mauricio Lara ended his unbeaten streak in February 2021.
Following that loss at Wembley Arena, Warrington drew with Lara in their rematch at Headingley before beating Kiko Martínez in March 2022 to retain the IBF belt again, only to hand it over last December after losing to Luis Alberto López by majority decision.
Those setbacks may have led some fighters to question their future in the sport, but Warrington insists he has no intention of hanging up his gloves and has his sights set on another world title.
The 32-year-old told the PA news agency: “When I’m done, I want it to be on my terms and I’m not ready to go yet. I’m at my best, my belief to win another world title is still there.
“I feel hungrier than ever and I am just as hungry to win a world title again.”
Warrington had suffered a broken jaw in his win over Martinez which he says lingered in the back of his mind in the build up to the Lopez fight and even during the title defense.
“There was a moment in that fight when my dad gave me a wake-up call to try to get my broken jaw out of my head because I was barely throwing a jab,” he said.
“Once I got him out of my head and fought him, in the later stages I had him rocking, I swear he was squealing like a baby.
“I caught myself in a sparring room and when I left the session, I felt that when I was eating it was causing me pain.
“I went to get an X-ray and I was panicking. If this is screwed up and the fight is cancelled, I’ll have to vacate my belt, left me a little worried.
“I guess I needed to feel a clean punch to know it was okay. I know I certainly didn’t let go of my hands like I normally do. I was walking to the ring thinking about letting myself walk out of this ring with an intact jaw and a cautious mentality.”
Warrington, whose last three fights have been in his hometown of Leeds, is realistic about his possible route back to the top following the loss at First Direct Arena that ended his hopes of a 2023 unification fight.
He believes he still has a chance to crown the division, but knows he may have to bide his time, with Leigh Wood, another Brit looking to bounce back from defeat, a potential comeback opponent.
Wood lost his WBA world featherweight title in February after being knocked out in the seventh round by Lara.
Warrington said: “This moment in time feels a million miles away, but if you go back 15 months, I just had the rematch with Lara and I was in a similar position to where I am now.
“I’m back to being world champion again, so it’s funny how things work in this sport. Three years ago, we were talking about Leigh Wood and pushing him as a sparring partner and now he’s a potential opponent.
“The pair win to your credit at this level and all opportunities open up again.” it became “personal” between the couple.
Warrington’s feud with Lara has been building since the Mexican inflicted his first career defeat on him two years ago before being denied a rematch victory seven months later when Lara sustained a cut over the eye from a crash at the head that caused the rematch to end in a technical. draw.
Lara also admitted to spitting at Warrington ringside following his win over Wood earlier this year.
Warrington said: “He seemed to have made it personal and said he wanted to retire.
“I never thought it was personal until he spat on me, which is one of the most demeaning things anyone can do… I’d rather be hit than spit on. For me it’s the lowest of the low and now it’s personal.
“I’d love to put that to bed and I’m a firm believer that if I show up in the right mindset, I’ll beat him pretty comfortably.”