Warrington’s Wembley Nightmare

Mauricio Lara caused one of the biggest shocks seen in recent memory in a British boxing ring, as he delivered a stunning ninth round knockout of Josh Warrington. Jamie McIntosh reports.

22-year old Mauricio Lara ended Josh Warrington’s unbeaten record with a shocking ninth round KO on Saturday night. (Photo Credit – Matchroom Boxing)

‘The Leeds Warrior’ Josh Warrington returned to the ring on Saturday night for the first time since October 2019, but things could hardly have gone worse for the 30-year-old. 

Firstly, Covid restrictions didn’t allow Warrington his usual ring walk – often accompanied into the ring by a Leeds hero – but he did enter Wembley Arena with Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow’s face printed on his shorts, along with the famous Leeds anthem Marching on Together. Burrow continues his fight with Motor Neurone Disease, whilst educating the public about his condition in the process – two very classy guys. 

After so long out the ring, it would be fair to expect Warrington to be a little rusty and that was the case, as the Mexican started well, looking comfortable in the centre of the ring and snapping Warrington’s head back with his jab.

Warrington had struggled to get going and just simply hadn’t looked himself, so when Lara sent Warrington to the canvas at the end of the fourth round, one of the biggest shocks in boxing history was on the cards. 

Warrington survived the fifth and sixth round, but he still looked out of sorts and the Mexican was looking at home on the big stage. 

There was a sense of inevitability when Warrington hit the canvas for the second time of the evening, at the start of the ninth round. It was the left hand of Lara that did the damage, his record now stands at 22 victories with 15 knockouts and two defeats.

As for Warrington, it was a disastrous evening. He looked out of sorts all night, a combination of ring rust, lack of atmosphere and potentially underestimating his opponent saw the first defeat of Warrington’s boxing career. 

22-year-old Mauricio Lara has stamped his authority on the Featherweight division and who knows what happens next for him. Eddie Hearn stated post-fight that there’s a rematch clause in the contract, but how long it is until we see Warrington in the ring again is anyone’s guess. 

“I’m just very happy, it’s a great night for me and I’m just so happy for my family and everyone back in Mexico,” Lara explained after the fight.

The Undercard

A close contest between Zelfa Barrett and Kiko Martinez rounded off the undercard action. (Photo Credit – Matchroom Boxing)

Sheffield’s Dalton Smith, one of the biggest rising stars in British boxing, continued to move in the right direction with an impressive third round stoppage against Ishmael Smith, taking his super-lightweight record to 6-0 in the process. 

32-year-old Leigh Wood won the vacant British Featherweight title with a brutal ninth round KO of Reece Mould. It was the second time in the fight that Mould had been on the canvas and Wood finished him off stylishly in his first fight under new trainer Ben Davison. 

The final bout before the main event was the IBF Inter-Continental Super Featherweight title defence of 34-year-old Spaniard Kiko Martinez, who was up against Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett. 

Barrett has only lost once in his 25 fights, however Martinez is a vastly experienced fighter and has given a good account of himself in previous bouts with Josh Warrington, Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton. Looking at the veteran’s form, Barrett shouldn’t have been expecting a walkover and if he did underestimate his opponent, the right-hand Martinez put on his chin in the second round would’ve served as a wake-up call. 

It was a close fight in my eyes, Martinez dominated the early and middle rounds, however Barrett finished strongest as the Spaniard tired. They couldn’t be separated after 12 rounds, so the judges’ scorecards were required. 

Unfortunately, it was unsurprising to see such ridiculous scorecards, with two judges scoring the bout 118-111 and the other 116-113, all three in favour of the Manchester man.

Eddie Hearn described the 118-111 scorecards as “disgusting” and went on to say it makes it very difficult to encourage fighters from abroad to fight in the UK when they are given “zero credit for their performance.”

What’s Coming Up…

The highly-anticipated rematch between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin takes places in less than three weeks. (Photo Credit – Sky Sports)

Carl Frampton gets the world title fight that he says has been a “long time coming”, when he takes on WBO World Super-Featherweight Champion Jamel Herring on February 27th, the fight is expected to be broadcast on BT Sport. 

The following Saturday (March 6th) it’s the turn of the Heavyweights, as Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin do battle for the second time in their careers. Povetkin shocked the boxing world when he became only the second fighter to defeat Dillian Whyte (Anthony Joshua being the other). The thunderous uppercut he sent on to the chin of Whyte was enough to secure victory at Fight Camp, however Whyte had bossed the fight up until that point and Povetkin’s victory wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Rocky film, so I’m expecting the opposite result this time around. Like the first fight, this will be a pay-per-view bout, however Ted Cheeseman and Chris Kongo have interesting fights on the undercard. 

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