IBF Featherweight champion, Josh Warrington, may be forced to abandon, at least temporarily, the pursuit of unifications with the three other ‘champions’ recognised in his weight class and face Sheffield’s Kid Galahad instead.
Following the positivity of the preceding article on BoxingWriter.co.uk, in which Warrington’s manager Steve Wood revealed the intention to “better 2018” by pitching the unbeaten 28-year-old in with one of Leo Santa Cruz, Gary Russell Jnr. or Oscar Valdez.
There was much to admire in the aspiration, but just a few days later, the sobering hand of boxing appears to have suffocated this would be plan.The IBF’s Jeanette Salazar was happy to confirm today that Kid Galahad had been made mandatory for the belt Warrington holds and that Warrington’s team had been informed of the 30-day negotiation period now being in effect. Should that process not reach a mutually agreeable conclusion then the promotion of the bout will be decided via purse bids. She also relayed that they accept the bout is unlikely to occur before the stipulated date 2/19.
However, it is hard to imagine Frank Warren failing to succeed in any such bidding process. Warrington has become one of his premier assets and with the backing of BT Sport’s cash reserves to support him and Galahad not able to generate any equivalent interest in his own right, it would be a shock if this didn’t become a Frank Warren event. Despite the misgivings the bout may draw, the style clash at work in any fight between Warrington and Galahad could make it more competitive than their resume’s suggest.
Steve Wood was frustrated by the IBF’s position; “I’d been lead to believe the Unification would over ride the mandatory and [there is] a lot of work and decisions to make now. The IBF are stopping unifications and I think that’s wrong.”
Whilst there is a sense of frustration that the mandatory requirement could usurp or delay potential unifications, and a solitary champion at every weight is the consensus aim for most boxing fans after all, fleetingly achieved or entirely elusive though it tends to remain, there is some sense of consistency in the IBF’s position.
They have proven to be immediate and unyielding in their imposition of the mandatory challenger’s status irrespective of the financial returns they sometimes risk losing in doing so. Anthony Joshua’s championship status, indirectly at least, began when Tyson Fury was stripped of the IBF title for having the temerity to agree to a contracted rematch with Wladimir Klitschko and ignore the IBF’s then mandatory challenger. In Fury’s absence, Charles Martin defeated the mandatory gooseberry, Vyacheslav Glazkov, and earned himself the Joshua payday.
The grander plan for Santa Cruz or Russell Jnr. et al may have to wait, IBF policy and history suggest Warrington will first need to keep Galahad’s slippery mitts off the belt before such luminious fights can be made.