'I felt possessed' - Josh Warrington left reeling as Mauricio Lara rematch ends in technical draw
Josh Warrington felt like a man possessed heading into his rematch with Mauricio Lara but was left reeling at Headingley stadium.
The Leeds Warrior was out for revenge against his Mexican foe in his home city on Saturday night to right the wrong of his only blemish on an otherwise perfect professional 31-fight record.
Warrington, though, saw dreams of avenging his singular loss - which came six months ago behind closed doors at Wembley Arena - dashed just as the evening was hotting up under the lights.
A cut to Lara's left eye caused by an accidental clash of heads saw referee Steve Gray halt the night prematurely ahead of the third round and declare a technical draw with no result possible.
The featherweight Leeds boxer had arrived in hostile fashion in front of 20,000 raucous supporters but was left downbeat having yet again failed to taste victory against Lara.
"I don't ever think about a draw. It's win or lose," Warrington told the YEP.
"All I've always thought about is winning until I got chinned last time by him. It can happen to anybody. You can get knocked out. Tonight walking out to that was amazing.
"Even coming down before I was visualising myself and I could just see it then in the introductions. I was thinking it's going to be pandemonium when I get my hand raised but it hasn't happened.
"It doesn't happen when you lose, so that's why I feel so down. I'm gutted. I think he knew. There were a few things in that first round and he seemed to complain about absolutely everything.
"We both bumped heads but you don't see me crying about it. That's what is always going to bug me now. What would have happened if we got into the third, fifth or sixth when I've been ready to step it up."
Warrington was aiming to exercise his demons against the 23-year-old, admitting himself that the defeat in February had provided some major mental hurdles to overcome.
"I thought in the first round, yeah. I would have liked to exercise it a little bit more," the 30-year-old continued.
"It was the first time I was coming in off a loss and I was starting to doubt myself. I went through a real rollercoaster of emotions. In the last 10 to 15 minutes of getting warmed up, I felt you could stick any man in with me because I felt there was no way I was losing that fight.
"When I walked into the ring, that went up tenfold. That entrance, and all the people making the noise, on the podium I felt like a god.
"I felt possessed. I was telling myself I was not losing, this is my house. I am not losing in my house.
"Coming back after the first round, I thought to myself, 'How did I get knocked out back in February, I can't believe it, how did that happen?'
"I could see everything he was doing, he was so wild.
"In the second round, I went forward a little bit more to try a few little things. Cuts happen but I felt something had started to happen in the first round with a little spot of blood above his eye."