Josh Warrington saw his plans for Featherweight domination lie in tatters, as he suffered a first defeat in 31 fights, with Mauricio Lara scoring a highlight reel shock ninth round knockout win at the SSE Arena, Wembley.
The fight topped the bill of the first UK Boxing show of 2021. Warrington was coming off a 16 month layoff, and had given up his IBF Featherweight title in order to pursue the big names of the division.
Firstly though, he had to see off the challenge of 22 year old Lara, who wasn’t expected to pose too many problems for him.
Warrington began in a spiteful and care free mood, taking advantage of the Mexican’s slow footwork to fire off cuffing shots.
Lara began wildly, electing to trade with his opponent, and he was cut by his right eye as a result. It was wild stuff, and Warrington was showing rustiness, tagged by Lara at several points in round two as he chose to swing and exchange.
The pair took turns to fire off hurtful punches, and Warrington was planting his feet a lot more than usual.
‘The Leeds Warrior’ was certainly showing signs of a long absence from the ring.
The fourth round saw a shocker, with Warrington first stunned by a stunning left hand that robbed him of his legs, and then dropped heavily by a short left hand.
It was the first time as a professional that Warrington had tasted the canvas. He rose very unsteadily, but the referee allowed him to continue, and Josh was still on spaghetti legs as he somehow made it out of the round.
The Brit still looked wobbly in the fifth, but showed tremendous heart in continuing to come forward and landed clean shots to work his way back into the contest.
Warrington was edging his way back into the argument, but was having to work hard to keep Lara at bay as the fight entered the second half.
Josh Warrington walked into a big Lara left in the eighth, but again showed great fortitude in firing back and meeting his man head on.
He was unable to complete a remarkable turnaround though, as he was wobbled again by more Lara lefts, before a final sledgehammer left to the chin of Warrington wiped him out for good.
After a lengthy and nervy delay, Warrington finally rose to his feet, and he will now have to re-evaluate his plans, and the rebuild starts in earnest.
Zelfa Barrett defended his IBF Intercontinental Super Featherweight title with a way too wide points win over old warhorse Kiko Martinez, who will be aggrieved that he didn’t come close to even sharing the spoils on the scorecards after a relentless display.
Martinez predictably came forwards, but found Barrett happy to work off the counter and at range in the opener.
Barrett had to take a stiff right hand from the Spaniard in the second that stunned him momentarily, but he regrouped to stay out of the range of the dangerous former world champion.
Martinez had definitely come to win, and had more success in the third as he continued to have little regard for anything ‘Brown Flash’ was throwing his way.
It was good give and take action, but Barrett seemed to be troubled when Kiko landed cleanly, and he was tagged several times in the fifth as the man from Alicante poured on the pressure.
Although Martinez’s face was bloodied, he was still marching forwards, and cut Zelfa’s right eye in the seventh as the Manchester man struggled to connect with powerful enough shots to dissuade Martinez from his attacks.
Barrett decided to meet fire with fire in the ninth, and this allowed him to back Martinez up, earning his respect finally in the process, and he finished well down the stretch, getting the better of the exchanges and controlling the action.
The last round saw the two open up in a last gasp bid to impress the judges, and the fight looked in the balance as the fight went to the cards.
Two scores of 118-111 and a third at 116-113 seemed very harsh on the Spaniard, who looked good value through the fight.
Leigh Wood claimed the vacant British Featherweight title with a ninth round knockout of the gallant and previously unbeaten Reece Mould.
Wood rebounded from defeat last time out to James ‘Jazza’ Dickens in the semi final of the MTK Golden Contract tournament to win the Lonsdale Belt.
Doncaster’s Mould certainly came to win against his more experienced opponent, but the Nottingham man’s extra seasoning was the telling factor in the fight, and he ground Mould down in the later rounds.
In round nine, Wood uncorked a cracking left hand that felled Mould heavily, and although he survived the count, he was out on his feet, and a two fisted salvo knocked Reece out with his head draped over the bottom rope.
Dalton Smith was in a scheduled ten rounder for the first time as a professional, but he only needed three against Birmingham’s Ishmael Ellis, who retired after a punishing trio of sessions.
Hot prospect, Ivan ‘Hopey’ Price improved to 4-0 as a professional, as the Leeds native took all six rounds against late notice substitute Daniel Mendoza. Price took a 60-54 verdict for referee Bob Williams.
Ricky Hatton trained Featherweight, Ibrahim Nadim, took a comfortable enough 60-55 win over six rounds against the durable Jonny Phillips.