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Warrington wants inspirational Burrow to join him in the ring at Headingley

The former rugby league star revealed in December that he has motor neurone disease.

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Josh Warrington wants to unify the world featherweight titles (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Josh Warrington wants to unify the world featherweight titles (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Josh Warrington wants to unify the world featherweight titles (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Josh Warrington intends to elevate Leeds Rhinos hero Rob Burrow to centre-stage when he steps up his bid to unify the world featherweight titles at Headingley this summer.

The Leeds fighter has reunited with promoter Eddie Hearn who has confirmed he is close to finalising a deal for Warrington to face China’s WBA champion Can Xu at the rugby league stadium.

Warrington paid tribute to the inspiration provided by Burrow, who has waged a public battle against motor neurone disease since revealing his diagnosis in December.

Rob Burrow has proved an inspiration to Josh Warrington
Rob Burrow has proved an inspiration to Josh Warrington (Dave Howarth/PA)

Warrington told PA Media: “I would love Rob to be involved whether it be as part of the ring-walk or just being present in the ring.

“He was a massive inspiration as a sportsman, where he overcame the equivalent of me fighting Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury – physically he should not have been able to do it.

“Rob has touched so many people, whether it be by giving them joy when he scored a try, or when he gave them an autograph or a picture. News of his diagnosis put everything in perspective.”

Eddie Hearn, right, has Warrington on course for a unification fight at Headingley
Eddie Hearn, right, has Warrington on course for a unification fight at Headingley (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Warrington is determined to make the most of his own time in the spotlight by securing more of the big nights which began when he wrested the IBF crown from Lee Selby at Elland Road in 2018.

As well as the bout against Xu, Hearn is hopeful of luring American star Shakur Stevenson to the UK, before Warrington potentially heads Stateside for a clash with current ‘super-champion’ Leo Santa Cruz.

Hearn said: “Josh wants a big trip to America for his fans but the priority is the unification fight at Headingley, which we are going to spend the next few weeks nailing down.

“Josh wants to create that legacy by beating the other world champions and there is no reason why he can’t do that here when he can sell 25,000 tickets at the drop of a hat.”

PA