Mauricio Lara comes out of nowhere to stunningly stop Josh Warrington in a huge upset
Boasting a spotless 30-0 record heading into the bout, Warrington had vacated his IBF featherweight title only last month in order to pursue fights with the likes of WBC champion Gary Russell Jnr and WBA secondary titlist Can Xu.
The 30-year-old Brit was expected to sweep Lara aside in what was essentially designed to be a rust-shedding exercise following 16 months out of the ring. But instead of a routine victory, it turned out to be a nightmare defeat for the popular Yorkshireman.
Typically a fast starter, Warrington’s trademark tenacity was strangely absent in the opener. The Leeds man threw jabs from the outside, while the heavy-handed Lara was happy to let his fists fly, although he did finish the frame with a cut by his right eye.
Warrington’s usual vim and vigour was still noticeably lacking in rounds two and three, which allowed Lara to grow in confidence. This was staggeringly evident in the fourth, when Lara badly buzzed Warrington with a weighty left hook, before the same solid shot dropped him heavily to the mat. The favourite was completely out on his feet and a stoppage seemed likely, but the bell came to his rescue.
Warrington bravely bit down on his gumshield and was able to land some clean strikes of his own in the fifth, yet Lara remained a real danger with his slamming hooks. In between rounds, Warrington complained to his corner that he was experiencing issues with his shoulder, just to add to his problems.
A robust-looking Lara marched through Warrington’s punches in the sixth and continually pressed forward. The seventh was full of gritty exchanges on the inside, with Lara’s right eye becoming increasingly bruised and swollen, and Warrington sporting damage to the right side of his mouth.
Lara brushed off Warrington’s attacks once again in round eight and backed his opponent up at times. Much worse was to come for Warrington in the ninth, however.
After an assortment of thumping blows had softened Warrington up, a final hellacious left hook shockingly wiped the Englishman out, leading the referee to wave the contest off at 0-54.
Warrington was immediately provided with oxygen, but was thankfully able to leave the ring on his own accord, before making his way to hospital as a precautionary measure.
While it was a disastrous outcome for Warrington, it was a remarkable result for the 22-year-old Lara, who was contesting his first-ever 12-rounder in what was only his second appearance outside of Mexico. Making a major step up in class, the twice-beaten underdog made Warrington pay dearly for an out-of-sorts display.
“I worked hard for this and I believed that I could do it,” Lara beamed in his post-fight interview. “This has been a great night and I’m really happy.”
In the chief support at super-featherweight, Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett, 27, was awarded a contentious unanimous decision over vastly seasoned Spaniard and ex-IBF super-bantamweight champ Kiko Martinez, 34.
The bout was close and competitive, yet somehow two of the judges saw fit to hand in excessively wide scorecards reading 118-111, while the third judge marked 116-113.