On Saturday Night, former Featherweight Champion, Josh “The Leeds Warrior” Warrington (30-1) made his long awaited return to the square-circle against the heavy underdog, Mauricio “Bronco” Lara (22-2) of Mexico in London, England.
Warrington, who hadn’t fought since last successfully defending his IBF title against Sofiane Takoucht back in October of 2019, never lost his title in the ring, and had yet to experience a loss as a professional prior to this brutal and shocking stoppage loss to Mauricio Lara in an utterly brutal affair.
In contrast, Lara had last seen the ring in December of 2020 for his fourth bout during a year in which ring activity was scarce. Regardless of the activity, Lara had never competed against a top-tier opponent with Warrington presenting the first true world class competition of his career.
Warrington, on the other hand, was well versed in competing with top fighters, bolstering victories over Carl Frampton, Lee Selby, and Kid Galahad. However the extent in which he was able to utilize his experience advantage came by way of his ability to survive to the ninth round in a bout most other fighters would have fallen much earlier.
Most viewed Lara’s activity compared to the former champs as being the only area that favored him, perhaps the inactivity of Warrington would lead to some ring rust in his performance against the young and hungry Lara.
However, Lara proved to be more than that, showcasing true knockout power and championship ability.
In the first round, instead of a clear indication of what most expected, we received a round of back and forth fireworks in which both fighters were rocked. Warrington certainly didn’t look flat, as he came out firing. Meanwhile, Lara showcased his aggressive and sturdy punching powers, rocking the former champion with a right uppercut in the round.
More fireworks ensued in the following two rounds, while Warrington’s class began to peer through. Even so, Lara stood with the heavy favorite toe-to-toe, but it looked as though it might be a tough night–if not a short night– based on the amount of shots that were landed on the underdog.
The Bronco had other plans.
Towards the tail end of Round 4, Lara landed a huge left hook that took Warrington’s legs for the remainder of the round. Lara followed up with a barrage of shots that sent the former champ to the canvas, and didn’t let up once he shockingly returned to his feet.
It appeared the fight could easily have been stopped as the round ended, and likely would have if it wasn’t for Warrington’s status.
The fifth round began similarly as the previous ended as Warrington’s legs hadn’t returned. Lara continued to apply pressure and land a number of single hard shots. However, in the final minute of the round, the proud Leeds’ native seemed to find his footing, landing some big shots of his own, seemingly battling his way back into the contest–for the time being.
By the eighth round, both fighters were completely and utterly battered, but it did not dissuade either of them from continuing to battle to the very end. Lara was certainly the fresher fighter, if “fresh” was a term that could be used in a fight that could be characterized as a high-volume brawl from the opening bell.
Ultimately, nine rounds was all that Warrington could muster, with Lara landing another looping left hook that sent him to the canvas for the final time. Prior to then Warrington bravely battled through a number of cleanly landed shots by Lara, but was never able to get comfortable in a fight that belonged to the young underdog.
The optics of the knockout and subsequent body language from Warrington rightfully inspired some concern which is often the case in a contest as brutal as this one. However, he was able to leave the ring on his own, and as of this moment, there have been no reports of serious injury.
In Lara’s performance, he was able to plant himself in the conversation among the top of the Featherweight division with the impressive knockout victory against the formerly undefeated champion.
The result of Saturday night’s contest is as certain to bolster Lara’s stock as it is to diminish Warrington’s in the conversation of top Featherweight, but no one would dare question the heart of either fighter.