Feb 7, 2021
Close•Reports on boxing for ESPN.co.uk, as well as several national newspapers
•Has been reporting on British boxing for over 15 years
•Appears on BoxNation’s Boxing Matters show
British boxer Josh Warrington said he is inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo in how to maintain his mindset at the top level, as he returns to the ring for his first fight in 16 months.
Warrington has been trying to adopt the mindset of Ronaldo, Juventus and Portugal forward, who turned 36 last Friday, and is still one of the biggest stars in world football.
“I’ll be honest with you. I’m not going to be one of those fighters who goes on into their late 30s. I’ve turned 30 late last year. I’ve got a few things I want to achieve but I don’t want to be hanging around for too long,” Warrington said.
“I’ve been taking inspiration from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, how has he managed to maintain his level at the top? It’s his mindset. He doesn’t have to do anything, to prove anything to anyone but he’s there and he’s working his balls off to be the best.”
Warrington’s exile from the ring has made him appreciate his position in boxing, as one of the leading fighters at featherweight.
“With lockdown and the big void in sport, it has made me realise how much I love boxing,” he said.
But the 30-year-old now has to regain momentum after his layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic, and his decision last month to drop his IBF world title.
Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs), faces Mexican Mauricio Lara (21-2, 14 KOs), 22, on Feb. 13 at the SSE Arena in Wembley, London, which he hopes will set up a world title fight by the spring.
Cristiano Ronaldo has continued to break records and improve his standards since his move to Juventus. Matteo Bazzi/EPA
Warrington, who is a Leeds United fan, keeps notes on his training, and says it is that attention to detail which he hopes will see him take his career to the next level in 2021.
“I’ve gone back to old notes that I’ve written before previous fights, reminding myself of the mindset I’ve got to keep,” he said.
“I’m a bit of a stats geek-weirdo. I’ve kept training logs for the past six years. My weight, where I am before fights, little reminders about how sessions have gone before fights.
“It started out as just times of runs and then how many rounds of sparring I’d done. But then I went deeper over the past few years. How I felt before certain training sessions, what I’d eaten and it’s nice to go back and compare before fights.
“It’s reassurance. It’s gives you targets. I’ve got a certain amount of runs that I do before fights. I know when I’ve felt my fittest. I know, for instance that 130-150 rounds of sparring is where I’m at my optimum. It all adds up. It’s fine margins.
“It’s like [Leeds manager] Marcelo Bielsa or Cristiano Ronaldo. They’ll look at these fine margins. I think at the top level, you cannot ignore these things.”
The Leeds-based boxer relinquished the belt to avoid a rematch with English rival Kid Galahad, the IBF mandatory challenger, and hopes the decision will pay off later this year with fights against Xu Can (18-2, 3 KOs), 26, of China, the WBA ‘regular’ champion or WBC king Gary Russell Jr (31-1, 18 KOs), 32, from Maryland in the United States.
“It was a difficult decision [to give up the IBF title],” Warrington added. “It’s not like I could drown my sorrows in a tub of ice cream.
“Normally, if I’ve been down, then I’ll turn to a tub of Ben and Jerry’s — a Caramel Chew Chew goes down particularly well. I couldn’t do that with this.
“I’ve got a fight coming on Feb. 13. No one wants to give up a belt. I’ve had three successful defences of it. I’m not going to be defined by that one belt. I’ve beaten Lee Selby, I’ve beaten Carl Frampton, I’ve beaten Kid Galahad and I want the big fights against the likes of Xu Can and Gary Russell.
“I’ve not lost it in the ring. I’ve lost it to the politics. Ultimately, down the line it will be worth it.”