Hearn talking to Xu and Russell Junior over April showdown with Warrington

Josh Warrington's promoter Eddie Hearn is negotiating with Can Xu AND Gary Russell Junior as he tries to land the IBF featherweight champion a unification fight in April.

But Warrington's IBF belt may not be on the line by then as he is considering vacating the title if it means getting a shot at either of his fellow world champions.

The 30-year-old Leeds star was left devastated last week when WBA top dog Xu pulled out of a proposed clash on February 13.

He was desperate to return with a bang after more than a year out of the ring.

Xu’s withdrawal means he must now face Mexican Mauricio Lara in a tune-up, but Hearn is hopeful it will be the first of three, maybe four, fights for the popular Yorkshireman this year.

Hearn said: “There are two things — Can Xu wants to fight in front of a crowd and also his deal was better with numbers on the gate.

“I wouldn’t say it was a financial issue but he genuinely wants to fight in front of fans, he doesn’t want to fight behind closed doors.

“When the lockdown was announced here and he’s coming in from Beijing, he looked at it and Robert Diaz [of Golden Boy Promotions] said, ‘Can we not do it for April or May?’ I said, ‘Yes, we can’.

“It causes some problems with the belts but Ring Magazine have approved that the belt will be on the line and that’s what Josh really wants to win.

“He wants to fight the top guys in the division and he wants to win other belts.

“So there is a chance that after February 13 the IBF title could be vacated if it means taking a step up and fighting Can Xu.

“Kid Galahad is the IBF mandatory challenger, Josh has to fight him at some point.

“But Josh could vacate after February 13 because he wants to fight Can Xu and Gary Russell Junior.

“We’re also now in negotiations to fight Russell at the end of April.

“It’s one of those situations where Josh needs to be flexible with the belts to step up and take those challenges.

“Warrington wants something major and really wants to test himself, and the plan is to have him out three or four times.

“He will box on February 13 and then April 24, and I’m hoping that as the end of April and start of May arrives, can we start going outdoors?

“Can we go to Elland Road, can we go to Headingley, can we do 10,000 or 15,000?

“Who knows? But you’d hope once this vaccine is rolled out, hopefully by the end of March, you’d hope they have done a good job.”

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