“I never thought I’d get put down...” Older and wiser former Carl Frampton foe Josh Warrington determined to take Anto Cacace’s world title

“I’ll come again” says Feargal McCrory after world title heartbreak in Washington

Anthony Cacace and Josh Warrington face off during Wednesday's press conference in London. Picture by PA
Anthony Cacace and Josh Warrington face off last week (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

IT’S six years since Josh Warrington ambushed Carl Frampton in Manchester to retain his IBF featherweight title.

Warrington was the B-side against Frampton but he jumped on him in the first round with a daring full-blooded assault that took the zip out of the Jackal’s legs and ultimately did enough to win him the fight.

The ‘Leeds Warrior’ was on the way up then but half-a-dozen years later he has fallen on hard times and intends to arrest a slump in form and results by taking former Frampton stablemate Anto Cacace’s IBF super-featherweight title in London on September 21.

Cacace won the belt brilliantly in May with a career-best performance to stop defending champion Joe Cordina in Saudi Arabia. ‘The Andytown Apache’ will be expected to successfully defend his title against a fighter who is stepping up from featherweight and has won just one of his last five fights (and had his jaw broken in the win against Kiko Martinez) and was knocked out by Leigh Wood last time out.

However, to put that bad run in context, Warrington has been campaigning at the elite level of the sport since he beat Lee Selby in 2018 and, as Michael Conlan could tell you, Wood is a hammer-handed puncher capable of knocking anyone out.

Josh Warrington (right) and Carl Frampton in action in the World Featherweight Championship at Manchester Arena in December
Josh Warrington (right) and Carl Frampton trade leather in Manchester

“It’s a fantastic opportunity and I’m very grateful to Anthony and his team for accepting to fight me,” said Warrington.

“It’s one of them where a finished-looking Warrington can put himself back on the map. I don’t feel like I’ve been forgotten about but I know winning this will put me back in a better position so it’s a brilliant opportunity and one that we had to grasp with both hands.

“From the outside looking in people might think: ‘Oh Warrington just has a good CV and a good name’ and I’m being used to make Anthony look good. Full credit to Anthony, I respect him but we’re coming to win.”

He agrees that Cacace took his long-awaited opportunity brilliantly against Cordina and accepts that some may see him as fortunate to get this shot. Warrington has jumped IBF number one rated contender Eduardo Nunez to get the opportunity to return to centre stage and, at 33, he has to take it.

“I’m a boxing fan so I pay attention to other fighters,” he said.

“I’ve watched Anthony in the past and I know what he’s about and the Irish boys are always entertaining, they always fight with their heart on their sleeve and I love that. But of course I’m confident I can beat him – I’m not going to take the fight because it’s a pay-day or because it’s a big show.

“I’ve taken it because I can make history for myself and for British boxing. I’m looking forward to it, I’m coming to win and take the belt away home with me.”

Warrington lost his world title against Mauricio Laura in 2021 but won it back against Martinez only to lose it to Mexican hitman Luis Alberto Lopez in 2022. His challenge for Wood’s WBA title last October didn’t go to plan but intends to become a two-weight world champion by dethroning Belfast’s Cacace.

“Believe me, at one point in my career I thought I’d never get put down or get hurt,” says Warrington.

“Lockdown came in and I had that period of not being out for 15 months. I came back against (Mauricio) Lara and I’ve had to accept that I can be put down. My career over the last four years has been a bit of a rollercoaster. I recaptured the world title and then I lost the defence against Lopez when mentally I don’t think I was there that night even though I thought I did enough to win it (lost on majority decision). I didn’t start the fight well and then Leigh Wood… Up to the seventh round people were saying I was back to a vintage Warrington, I was back to my best and picking his head off and then I got caught with a shot…

“It’s the highest level of the sport, isn’t it? Instantly you want to bounce back and be back in there in the ring but time can pass by and all people remember is your last result. All I can do is train hard and turn up on the night on September 21 and show that I’ve still got good nights in me.

“You can’t argue with my CV, no matter what anybody says. I’m a former world number one, a two-time world champion and this will be my eighth world title fight. I’m only in exciting fights – every fight I’m in is a Fight of the Year contender and me and Anto is going to be another one.”

Feargal McCrory will be in attendance at Omagh's INF Hall on Saturday
There was disappointment for Feargal McCrory in Washington last Saturday night

FEARGAL McCrory insists he will “come again” after his challenge for the WBA super-featherweight title ended in an eighth round stoppage defeat in Washington.

Tyrone native McCrory showed plenty of heart and spirit but he’d have to admit he was out-classed on the night and unable to make inroads against home favourite Lamont Roach who seemed to be a step ahead of him and displayed impressive power off both hands.

Roach dropped McCrory in the third round with a left hook and had him down twice in the fourth with body shots, McCrory had his best spell of the fight in the next two but he endured a torrid seventh and a ramrod right hand from ‘Reaper’ Lamont set up the finish in the eighth when McCrory’s coach Colin Morgan called a halt.

“I wanted to win, I believed I could win, I trained to win,” said a downcast McCrory.

“Full credit to Lamont, tonight I lost to the better man. He hit me more than I hit him.

“The first one was a flash knockdown. The other two were good knockdowns, solid shots but we bite down and we keep going.”

The defeat was the first of McCrory’s career and leaves him at 16-1. He rolled the dice and came up short but he hasn’t given up and intends to work on his skills and bounce back.

“I’m heartbroken, but I’ll come again,” he said.

“We go back to the drawing board - we’ve a lot of things we’ve got to fix. We dared to be good, we came to the champion’s backyard and we were second best. When this fight was offered to me, we jumped on it. We knew Lamont was a good fighter and they don’t give out world titles.”