IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington claims he is “levels above” mandatory challenger Luis Alberto Lopez as he prepares for his title defence in Leeds next week.
The 32-year-old returned to winning ways last time out and became world champion again with a seventh-round stoppage of Kiko Martinez, and will defend his title for the first time against Lopez a week on Saturday.
Warrington believes Lopez has fought nobody on his level and he downplayed the Mexican’s successes by describing some of the decisions in his favour as “lucky”.
Warrington told the PA news agency: “Luis Alberto Lopez is full of confidence, he’s made himself known quite a bit on social media, him and his team, and he has a big team behind him.
“He’s already lost twice in his career, he’s had a couple of lucky decisions, but he’s put himself into a mandatory position. But I am levels above. He’s boxed Isaac Lowe, but no disrespect to him, he’s not my level.
“This is my sixth world title fight and I’ve fought guys who are well above him.”
There have been talks of other possible fights elsewhere including a potential unification clash with Santa Cruz, who holds the WBA title, as well as a trilogy fight with Lara, who handed Warrington his first career defeat.
Warrington feels a unification opportunity is deserved despite vacating his IBF featherweight title after the governing body refused to sanction a unification bout in January 2021.
It seems there is unfinished business with Lara as personal matters have heated up since their technical draw in September 2021, when the Mexican suffered a cut over the left eye in an accidental head clash.
He said: “I would like that fight (with Santa Cruz). This will be my sixth world title fight on Saturday, what else have I got to do to get a unification fight?
“I vacated a belt and in between had a pandemic, the Lara loss – but now I’m world champion again. I don’t see any reason why I can’t fight for another championship after that, what else is there for me to do?”
On Lara, Warrington continued: “I took nine rounds of his best with my hands down. He wants to be grateful, if I’m being honest with you.
“The guy is a multi-millionaire now because of me so he probably feels like he should be champion, but at the time I didn’t have the belt so if he wants an opportunity to come get it, he can do.”
For now, Warrington’s full focus is on the upcoming clash with Lopez.
“My head knows there are bigger fights,” he said. “I know I’ve got to perform and if I don’t, I say goodbye to all the other fights and if you do well there’s opportunities to go on to bigger and better.”
::Josh Warrington visited Leeds Children’s Hospital to meet young patients and hand out gifts to help Leeds Hospitals Charity spread some Christmas cheer. https://www.leedshospitalscharity.org.uk/childrens-wish-list-present-drop-off.