Boxing: Fury ‘can’t wait to smash Joshua’
If there was ever a fighter more deserving of a packed out arena, in need of a moment to confide in supporters, it was Josh Warrington as he laid on the canvas all alone. This potential banana skin against Mauricio Lara soon turned into a living nightmare, as the Leeds Warrior struggled to recover from a devastating knockdown in the fourth round that left his pristine record hanging by a thread.
After 16 months of inactivity, his misfortune – two collapsed fights with Can Xu – was savagely punished by his Mexican opponent, who executed a monumental 12-1 upset.
Lara was supposed to be the gateway to the promised land after Warrington surrendered his IBF world title. But his dreams of the Las Vegas lights and the prestigous Ring Magazine belt were wiped from beneath his feet despite a spirited fightback. Still, there’s no doubt he’ll be back.
There was a strange moment in the opening round when Lara appeared to drop his hands in frustration at something but Warrington politely declined the invitation of a cheap shot. It was a decision he would soon live to regret.
Lara’s clubbing blows that WBO world champion Emmanuel Navarrete had warned about following their wars in sparring, stunned Warrington, who was dropped in the fourth as his legs turned to jelly.
Warrington, who has never been dragged into these deep waters, began to fight on extinct, exchanging from range as he struggled to maintain his balance and co-ordination.
Josh Warrington was stunned by Mauricio Lara at the SSE Arena, Wembley
In truth, referee Howard Foster could have called a halt to the proceedings as Warrington was handed a get out of jail card, which he struggled to keep between his fingers as he smothered Lara in an act of desperation.
Slowly but surely, he began to grow stronger in the mind and legs but this enthralling contest, which by this point was just five rounds deep, was far from over.
Besides the noise and belief from Lara’s corner, the silent SSE Arena was sorely missing the injection of support from Warrington’s Leeds army, who by this point must have been fearing the worst.
But the 30-year-old dug deep and found some stability, as he began to trade and have some success of his own in Rounds 7 and 8.
Even then, Lara continued to eat up Warrington’s shots and it soon became clear that he felt he could close the show.
A swinging left hook sent Warrington staggering backwards in the ninth and a flurry of punches soon followed as the undefeated Yorkshire star tumbled to the canvas. This fight was done.
A rollercoaster affair that simply defied belief, but a night that could prove invaluable in Warrington’s quest for greatness. Although right now, it may not feel it.
Josh Warrington suffered his first career defeat to Mauricio Lara
In the chief support, former IBF super-bantamweight world champion Kiko Martinez made for an uncomfortable evening’s work for super-featherweight Zelfa Barrett, who somehow reigned supreme by unanimous decision.
The scandalous scorecards that read 118-111, 118-111, 116-113 once again made a mockery of British boxing as Eddie Hearn hit out at the judges, who quite frankly must have been watching something else.
He has now vowed to make sure a rematch takes place on his watch, as a downhearted Martinez questioned the integrity of his 10th career defeat.
The tenacious Spanish veteran, who has shared the ring with Carl Frampton, Warrington, Scott Quigg, Leo Santa Cruz and Gary Russell, was determined to make his experience count. In reality, he did.
Zelfa Barrett earned a unanimous points victory over veteran KIko Martinez
He began to ask Barrett testing questions right from the first bell and his relentless engine found something from within whenever the Brit tried to turn the screw.
“Throw more Zel, throw more,” shouted ringside promoter Hearn, encouraged by the left hooks and overhand rights that bloodied the nose of Martinez.
“Let ’em go now, take the centre,” Hearn added, clearly concerned by the 34-year-old’s durability and the rounds that he may have banked in the opening exchanges.
But Hearn was right and Barrett soon found his rhythm in Round 9 as he started to load up with a series of thunderous shots. Still, Martinez stood firm.
A nod to Hearn as the 27-year-old returned to his corner and trainer – former British boxer, Pat Barrett – a sign of his joy, shortly after the pair had exchanged after the bell.
If anyone had done enough to win this fight, it was Martinez and Barrett must learn a valuable lesson after he was let off the hook, although there were promising elements to his performance.
Leigh Wood beat Reece Mould by KO to win the British featherweight title
Lethal by name, lethal by nature: Leigh Wood is the new British featherweight champion after his devastating knockout of Reece Mould.
Ben Davinson’s man weathered an early storm as Mould landed flush on his chin and had joy to the body but Wood grew in confidence with every round that went by.
He had Mould down on the canvas twice, with a peach of a left hook inflicting the damage second time around and it looked like the 26-year-old wouldn’t recover.
But he was up to defy the odds, albeit gingerly, on his feet to beat the count before being pressed against the ropes, as a barrage of punches saw Mould’s night end in merciless fashion.
The silence at ringside was deafening but thankfully Mould soon regained consciousness to accept defeat and congratulate his opposite number.
Sheffield’s most successful amateur Dalton Smith looks like one of the brightest prospects in British boxing after his three-round demolition of Ishmael Ellis.
The light-welterweight inflicted severe punishment on the Brummie, whose corner made a sensible and well-timed decision to pull him out of the fight before he suffered further damage.
There were also wins for Dave Coldwell’s Hopey Price and Ricky Hatton’s Ibrahim Nadim against Daniel Mendoza and Jonny Phillips respectively.