osh Warrington insists he cannot afford to focus on anything but the here and now as he faces Mauricio Lara this weekend, despite the tantalising prospect of a featherweight unification bout on the horizon.
The 30-year-old takes on the unheralded Mexican at the SSE Arena in Wembley on Saturday night, kick-starting what could be a huge year, with a lucrative showdown against either Gary Russell Jr or Can Xu on the cards.
Leeds fighter Warrington vacated his IBF featherweight title after the organisation refused to sanction a proposed unification bout, and instead pushed for him to again face mandatory challenger Kid Galahad.
Hopes of meeting Can, the WBA’s ‘regular’ champion, on February 13 failed to materialise as the Chinese boxer was reluctant to fight in an empty arena.
Warrington, though, maintains there can be no room for complacency or lack of focus on the immediate task in front of him when he returns to the ring for the first time in 15 months.
“It is up to me to do a good job to keep the big fights alive and it is the winning which does that,” Warrington said.
“If you get beat, then you are not looking at the big unification fights any more, it is just building yourself back up.
“We have worked too hard over the years to allow that to happen.
“Obviously there is a massive dangling carrot in front of me – get through this one fight and there could be potentially an even bigger one, with more baubles on the line.
“But all of my focus has been on Lara, watching clips of him, obsessing, looking at his record, his style.
“I have been finding pictures of him on Google to get images of him in my head, because it is him who is going to be trying to stop me on Saturday night.
“You can get complacent, think it is going to be a given and then that is when things can go wrong, so I am ready.
“There is never an easy fight, no matter what promoters, managers or trainers say. It is sport, it is never a written, you still have to go out there and perform.
“I know I have to get past him to make these other fights happen, but that dangling carrot will get squashed and other big fights go out the window if you get beat.
“I am 30 years old and don’t want to be adding another two years on to my career because I have had a bad night, taken my eye off the ball or focussed too much on the fight in front.”
Additional reporting by PA.