Gareth A DaviesFri, 12 February 2021, 12:51 pm
The theory that sex before a fight lessens athletic prowess has been around since the Olympians in ancient Greece but unbeaten world-class featherweight Josh Warrington “just takes a week off” before his contests, quashing the notion that love-making lowers testosterone.
Warrington makes his comeback on Saturday night in London after 15 months out against Mauricio Lara, an ambitious Mexican who runs by the name of ‘Bronco’ and is looking to make it a rough night for the 30-year-old from Leeds, who is unbeaten in 30 contests.
While Mickey Goldmill – Rocky Balboa’s fictional trainer – told his charge that “women weaken legs”, Warrington revealed this week: “I used to have two-and-a-half weeks off [from sex before a fight] when I was a young whippersnapper coming through on small-hall shows. But that’s since gone.
“I think seven days or so is enough for me, I’m a little bit older now. I’ve heard some fighters says six months. That is not normal and it’s not healthy either. It used to be a strict two weeks for me but no. About a week.”
Warrington ditched his IBF featherweight belt so as not to be forced into a rematch with Sheffield’s Kid Galahad – whom he defeated in June 2019 – and must get through this “banana-skin fight” as promoter Eddie Hearn has labelled it, before pursuing the division’s champions – Gary Russell Jr, Can Xu and Emanuel Navarrete. China’s Xu – the WBA belt-holder – was the target in a unification contest but opted out of the battle due to the lack of crowds in the UK at present.
The Matchroom Boxing event at Wembley’s SSE Arena is the first televised contest in this country since heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua retained his belts against Kubrat Pulev at the same venue on Dec 12. The postponement of boxing was subsequently enforced by the British Boxing Board of Control due to the national lockdown amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
“Galahad is irrelevant, his career is defined by me,” explained Warrington of his decision to vacate the world title. “I don’t want to look back on my record and see three boring fights with Kid Galahad. I want to see Xu, Russell Jr, Navarrete, Oscar Valdes. I’m not saying I’ll win all of them but I want the biggest tests and challenges and I will try my f—— best to win them. I don’t want to sound like a d——–, or copy Conor McGregor, but when Galahad fights me it’s his red panty night, he only gets big pay-days when he fights me.”
Lara – who has 21 wins, including 14 knockouts, and two defeats – has broadcast loudly this week that he is “coming for war”. But Warrington brushed that off, saying: “He’s got a better knockout ratio than I have. This guy is a big puncher. But can he do the 12 rounds as well as I can? Has he got as much experience? I don’t think he can. But that’s up to me to expose that. He’s got punch power but, if I’m not there to be hit, he’ll be hitting thin air. It won’t go past six rounds. I strongly believe that.
“The way I’ve been hitting with 16oz gloves on? When I then put the 8oz gloves on and see the gaps in his defence, I expect an early night. But I’m experienced over 12 rounds. I’ve done marathons. I can do it at a good pace. This man here has no pressure. He is full of Mexican pride.
“I’m a big fan of Mexican fighters and how they wear their hearts on their sleeves. He will bring it but I wouldn’t want it any other way. He will bring it, which will tune me up nicely for the fights down the line. Make no mistake, I’m treating him like a monster because I can’t afford a slip-up.”
Lara, 22, sees this as his own world title fight, a way of promoting his name and career. “It’s a great opportunity for me and Josh Warrington is going to face a really tricky fighter in me. I’m also aware that I’m coming up against the No 1 ranked fighter and it’s my opportunity to show the people of Mexico and everyone what I can do. I enjoy coming for war…From the first bell I will be looking for the knockout. If it goes the distance I’ll be ready. I’ll be ready for whatever comes. I’d love to make history, to take this victory home to Mexico City.”
Just before the featherweights walk to the ring, there is an intriguing fight for Zelfa Barrett, nephew of the much-respected Pat Barrett, his coach, who defends his IBF Intercontinental super-featherweight title against the vastly experienced Kiko Martinez.
The Spaniard has been in the ring with world champions Leo Santa Cruz, Gary Russell Jr, Carl Frampton and Warrington himself, so it is seen as a step up in class for Barrett – who has 24 victories, 15 by KO, and one loss – and a marker of where the explosive 27-year-old sits in terms of the world stage. “I’m ready. I’m more than ready. I respect Kiko for what he’s done in the sport. He’s fought the best. I believe that I’m one of the best. It’s my time to shine and to show how good I am. Beating Kiko will put me in a good position,” he said.
Promoter Hearn is relieved to get Matchroom Boxing’s show on the road again, in what promises to be a busy period after the enforced layoff. “This is the biggest year yet for Matchroom Boxing as we go global. The start of 12 shows in eight weeks, in seven different countries,” he said.
For Warrington, victory will put him back on track for the big nights against the divisional leaders, but when Sunday comes, his expected triumphant celebration with his wife Natasha is unlikely to be celebrated with the words of ‘Micky’ from ‘Rocky’ and thoughts of cold showers.