Repeat or revenge, we will have to wait. Mauricio Lara scored the biggest win of his near six year career in February when he came to Wembley in the United Kingdom and stopped Josh Warrington in nine rounds. Lara going by the nickname Bronco entered enemy territory as a massive underdog and an unknown. Warrington though no longer champion at featherweight vacated his belt in pursuit of a major fight and did not want to face a mandatory challenge. Lara was supposed to be a walkover on the way to a big money fight but Mauricio had other ideas. The Mexican power puncher had Warrington on the canvas in the fourth round and outslugged the flat ex champ over eight rounds. In the ninth round Lara ended the fight brutally with Warrington lying on the canvas in a massive upset. Over the ensuing months the rematch was set up and the debates swirled about whether this was a fluke or if Lara is for real. Warrington sought to recover his damaged reputation and prove his status as an elite fighter and Lara fought to confirm what observers wondered and debated.
Warrington once again had the homefield advantage and received a hero’s welcome in Leeds which is his actual hometown. Sadly, the elaborate ring walk wound up lasting longer than the fight which ended in a technical draw after two rounds had been completed. The fight was a more evenly paced bout with neither man completely selling out offensively or scoring concussive blows that turned the tide. Lara scored early and often with his powerful hooks in the first encounter but Warrington fought a much more measured fight. He fought in a lower stance with a high guard and did not go toe to toe in a slugfest like he did the first time. Warrington, who is not normally an out boxer fought on the back foot and did what he could to spoil Lara offensively. The heads began to come together and referee Steve Gray did not intervene early enough to prevent the fight ending clash. Lara began pointing at his forehead the universal symbol of “I just got butted” and Gray just let it go by. A viscous collision opened a cut over the left eye of Lara but watching it live it did not seem as bad. The blood was not streaming down his face which made it appear that the cut was not significant but once the corner began to go to work it became clear that the cut was serious. There would be no third round and the disappointment of the two fighters matched the disappointment in the crowd who got a less than satisfying result. The fight was close and the action pointed to another entertaining featherweight battle but we have been left to wonder.
Rematch: Eddie Hearn has come out in the wake of the result and declared a rematch has to happen. Also, Warrington when interviewed in his dressing room told reporters that he intends on facing Lara again. Will it be immediate, that is looking less likely. Hearn has stated that he intends to get Warrington in the ring one more time in 2021 but no opponent has been targeted. Xu Can the Chinese featherweight titlist lost his belt to British fighter Leigh Wood on DAZN. That is an interesting fight that seems easy to make businesswise and would be a solid all UK title match up. Will Lara wait around for Warrington or try to use his recent spotlight to pursue something larger?
Were the headbutts intentional?: This debate is raging on the boxing forums and comment sections as fans argue back and forth as to whether the fouls were accidental or not. Warrington detractors are saying he led with his head to weaken Lara, to deter Lara from being aggressive or that he knew he was on his way to losing and did this to get out of another KO loss. The other side says it was positional and accidental and unfortunate. I am on the fence with this disagreement between fans. Clearly Gray was ineffective as a referee in warning Warrington and effectively preventing the collision leading to the cut. I do not feel Warrington was lowering his head and ramming Lara and intending to cut him. I do feel he positioned his head in a way that prevented Lara from rushing him and used it more as a deterrent. That is different though it is bending/breaking the rules. I don’t think enough occurred in the ring to draw the conclusion that Warrington was by any means trying to sink the fight to get out of another loss. He won the first round and was boxing a much better fight this second time. Lara was still able to connect and did score some hard body shots near the end of the round but nothing resembling the first fight had happened.