Anthony Joshua’s shock loss to Andy Ruiz Jr was a timely reminder for Josh Warrington never to underestimate his challenger.
Warrington makes a second defence of his IBF world featherweight title against English rival Kid Galahad at the First Direct Arena in his home city of Leeds, in a bout that will be streamed live on ESPN+ in the US and screened on BT Sport in the UK.
Warrington (28-0, 6 KOs), 28, is expected to triumph over Galahad (26-0, 15 KOs), 29, from nearby Sheffield, and move a step closer to facing one of the other three rival champions at featherweight.
But after seeing unheralded American-Mexican Ruiz stop Joshua in the seventh round for three world heavyweight titles in New York last Saturday, Warrington is not looking beyond Saturday’s fight.
“I’ve got goals I want to achieve in this division and names I want to fight like Leo Santa Cruz [WBA champion], Gary Russell Jr [WBC champion] and Oscar Valdez [WBO champion],” Warrington told ESPN. “I want to fight in Las Vegas and unify the division. But you can’t take your eye off the man in front of you — we’ve just seen what happens if you do that.
“Ruiz had massive odds to beat Joshua but he pulled it off and it reminds you that anything can happen in boxing. People say Galahad is not on the same level but for me he’s in the opposite corner on the night so I have to deal with him.
“You have seen fighters who have taken their eye off the ball and got beat because of it. I’m in a position where I don’t want to be sidetracked because I’ve had a setback and I have never looked past an opponent to what could be down the road.”
Warrington said Joshua fell victim to complacency and reckons there were other contributing reasons for his downfall against an unfancied opponent, such as being too muscular and having too many outside commercial interests.
“It was heavyweight boxing at its finest,” Warrington told ESPN. “These guys have a lot of weight behind them and one punch can change it. Nothing is a given in heavyweight boxing as we’ve just seen with Joshua and Ruiz.
“It was a surprise and I don’t think Joshua gave him a chance. But to go over to the States, even though he has dealt with massive occasions in the UK before, it’s a different kettle of fish.
“Plus the speculation about fighting Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury in the future, it all added extra pressure for Joshua. He’s a brand as well, he’s not just a boxer with a lot of people depending on him, and all those things can take a certain percentage away from you.
“He will have trained hard because he’s a good professional, but he just didn’t seem comfortable in the first few rounds and didn’t look right before the fight.
“Punching down may have been a problem for Joshua and he looks so big and muscle-bound. All that muscle needs oxygen, but he was breathing heavy and moving slow. You have to take your hat off to Ruiz for taking the opportunity.
“I believe Anthony Joshua will be back but he’s been toying around with his weight for too long, coming in at different weights. His arms look humungous, which will make it tiring for him. I just felt that would have had a big part to play in it and then you have someone who is pressing you constantly and it was as though he was having to time his shots so he didn’t waste any energy. Ruiz had too much energy for him and it took it out of Joshua.”