The first major British boxing show of 2021 is in the books and we saw a shock result in the evening’s main event.
The British Boxing Board of Control suspended all fights scheduled for the month of January due to COVID-19, meaning that last night’s Matchroom Boxing card from Wembley Arena was the first opportunity for fight fans to witness domestic action since December.
The headline contest saw previously unbeaten former featherweight world champion Josh Warrington take on unheralded Mexican Mauricio Lara.
The contest had been considered a relatively straightforward task for Warrington, who had been out of the ring for more than 16 months, but it quickly turned out to be anything but.
‘The Leeds Warrior’ surrendered his IBF featherweight world title a few weeks ago in order to focus on securing fights against American names such as Gary Russell Jr. and Shakur Stevenson.
Those bouts seem a long way off now, though, as Warrington was emphatically stopped by his 22-year-old opponent in the ninth round on Saturday night.
Warrington never looked his usual self from the moment the first bell rang, struggling for timing during the opening three rounds. Things got even worse for Warrington in the fourth as he was sensationally floored for the first time in his 31-fight career by Lara.
A second knockdown followed shortly afterwards.
Truthfully, the bout could easily have been stopped there and then by referee Howard Foster, but Warrington was given every chance to continue.
Bravely fighting on with what appeared to be a shoulder injury, Warrington did well to survive the fifth round – frequently needing to hold to Lara in order to stay upright.
More of the same was to come in the rounds that followed, with the Brit continuously getting nailed with unforgiving shots by Lara – who rarely missed with his left hook.
Warrington’s resolve was finally broken in the ninth, however. A stiff right hand to the body, followed by a left hand to the head, left Warrington sprawled out on the canvas.
Beaten for the first time in his 12-year career, Warrington was visibly devastated by the result.
For a man who typically feeds off of his rabid hometown supporters in Leeds, the absence of a crowd inside the eerily quiet venue might well have affected Warrington.
A rematch between the pair once fans are allowed back into venues seems a likely next step. Before that bout can be talked about, though, there is much for Warrington to ponder.
The 30-year-old was immediately taken to a local hospital after the fight and will no doubt need time to recover and fully reflect upon his stunning defeat.