Bravery not enough as Josh Warrington suffers shock knockout

Promoter Eddie Hearn hailed the “incredible” bravery displayed by Josh Warrington against Mauricio Lara but felt that the 16 months of inactivity told as the ‘Leeds Warrior’ suffered a shock defeat at Wembley Arena on Saturday night.
Best of enemies: 
Josh Warrington congratulates Mauricio Lara. 
Pictures: Dave Thompson/Matchroom BoxingBest of enemies: 
Josh Warrington congratulates Mauricio Lara. 
Pictures: Dave Thompson/Matchroom Boxing
Best of enemies: Josh Warrington congratulates Mauricio Lara. Pictures: Dave Thompson/Matchroom Boxing

Fighting for the first time since October, 2019, the previously-undefeated Yorkshireman was caught by a vicious left hook in the fourth round but narrowly recovered to survive the referee’s count. 

However, he looked shaken for the remainder of the bout as Lara continued to wear down his opponent before a devastating right to the body was followed by a brutal, fight-winning left hook to the chin.

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Warrington had never been knocked down in his career prior to the contest but the hard-hitting Mexican gave the former IBF champion a torrid time. Warrington did not look like his usual self from the first bell.

Downed: Josh Warrington is knocked out.Downed: Josh Warrington is knocked out.
Downed: Josh Warrington is knocked out.

It seemed he was not going to survive the referee’s count in the fourth round and promoter Hearn hailed the display of character from Warrington as he recovered to finish the round in the empty arena.

“I don’t think I have seen better bravery in the ring than from what I saw from Josh Warrington for a long, long time,” claimed Hearn.

“He never recovered from the shot in the fourth round.

“I spoke to him in the dressing room before the fight and said the chance this young man (Lara) has in the fight is to trade up with you. We know he can punch, I said for him to be smart and he didn’t do that.

“He came out, he was erratic.

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“He has been 16 months out of the ring and the ring rust showed. He got caught with that shot in the fourth round and never recovered, how he got through that round I will never know.

“For the remainder of the fight, he was on empty. The bravery he showed was incredible.

“People will talk about the upset but you have to give Lara tremendous credit. For Josh Warrington it is an absolute crushing blow.”

Warrington had hoped to take his professional record to a perfect 31-0 and move onto fights against the fellow kings of the featherweight division. Hearn revealed that there is the opportunity for a rematch with Lara but the first focus is to get Warrington back to full health after he was attended to by medics in the ring before being able to walk back to his dressing room unassisted.

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The defeat will be a devastating one for Warrington, who has usually been the one to upset the odds on his way to the top.

He can take inspiration from fellow Brit Anthony Joshua, who returned to the summit of the heavyweight division in December, 2019 after a shock knockout defeat against Andy Ruiz in June of the same year.

There is also the example of Northern Irishman Carl Frampton, who has a shot at the WBO super featherweight title later this month despite losing to Warrington in a thrilling IBF title clash in December, 2018.

Hearn continued: “We wanted to be standing here after the fight talking about the return to Leeds after the pandemic, the Gary Russell fights, but now it is back to the drawing board.

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“This isn’t the kind of environment he is used to. He got beat by a hungry young fighter who changed his life tonight.

“After a fight like that he is going to need a long, long rest but he will want to fight this man again.

“We do have the opportunity for a rematch if Josh Warrington wants to but that is not even on our minds at the moment.

“We want to get Josh back to his family, get him time to recover as he comes to terms with what is a devastating career defeat.

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“He will come again, he is a great fighter. He has been out for a long, long time. Tonight showed us why we love boxing so much. One punch can change everything, for three rounds Josh was in control despite being erratic.

“But Lara has heavy hands and landed one on the chin that changed his life and changed the career of Josh Warrington.

“He will be back and I dare say, once he recovers, he will want to take him on again.”

Lara proved a threat to Warrington with an impressive pre-fight record of 21-2 that boasted 14 knockouts.

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Hearn hailed the display from the 22-year-old Mexican, who announced himself on the world stage with one of the biggest upsets in a British boxing ring.

“This is why it is the best sport in the world,” added Hearn. “A young man, 22 years of age, from Mexico City comes in when no-one gave him a chance.

“We knew he could fight, we said that in the press conference and spoke to people in Mexico.

“We didn’t think he would beat the No 1 ranked featherweight in the world but he did. We have to give him tremendous credit.”