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JOSH WARRINGTON is eyeing unification bouts in Las Vegas but first intends to prove he belongs at the elite level by defeating Lee Selby and Carl Frampton in the same year.
Warrington surprised the vast majority when he bullied and harried betting favourite Selby en route to a split decision victory in his home city of Leeds in May.
The 28-year-old is once again the underdog ahead of the first defence of his IBF featherweight title against Northern Ireland’s Frampton in a blockbuster domestic showdown at the Manchester Arena on December 22.
Beating Selby and Frampton within months of each other would be an emphatic statement from Warrington, who told Press Association Sport: “I’m a world champion, I believe I’m the best, I want to prove I’m the best.
“I’m one fight away really from putting myself as a world name in boxing. Beating Carl puts me up there.
“I want to prove I didn’t just do it as a one-off fluke or it wasn’t just handed to me, I beat Lee Selby and now I’m doing Carl Frampton.
“It doesn’t happen like that normally and I want to be different. Normal fighters do have a big fight, like win a world title and then a steady defence, to get that notch under their belt, but naff that!”
Leeds fan Warrington achieved a lifelong ambition when he fought at Elland Road against Selby, but he is eager to branch out to the United States in an effort to add further world titles to his collection.
The prospect of taking his vast number of followers to Las Vegas for a showdown with either WBC titlist Gary Russell Jr, WBA beltholder Leo Santa Cruz or WBO champion Oscar Valdez is proving alluring.
It is Valdez, like Warrington a relentless pressure fighter, who seems to appeal most to the Yorkshireman.
He added: “If I had the choice to go back to Elland Road or Stateside, I’d probably choose Stateside because Elland Road was its own little chapter.
“Since beating Selby people have spoken about ‘are we going to Vegas’ or ‘are you going to take us to Vegas?’
“I want to – after big Carl – go on and fight Oscar Valdez. I believe when you get to this stage, you want the big fights when you’ve got momentum and confidence going with you.
“I’ve got in my head I want to go and unify the division. Those things motivate me and it’s what I’m in the sport for.
“This IBF belt is lovely but it needs a partner, it needs a companion on the mantelpiece.”
Warrington was speaking ahead of the release of a feature-length documentary chronicling his ups and downs over the past couple of years, culminating in his win over Selby.
Victory over the Welshman has catapulted Warrington to fame and an increased media profile, which has not gone unnoticed by his wife Natasha.
Warrington added: “The missus said to me five or six weeks after the fight had passed ‘when is this going to calm down?’ I said ‘Tash, as long as I have this belt it’s not going to, it’s just going to get busier’.”
– Josh Warrington: Fighting For A City is on DVD and digital download from November 26