After a further COVID enforced sabbatical big-time boxing returned to the UK on Saturday (13th) with a televised Matchroom promotion.
Headlining at the SSE Wembley Arena in London former IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington, recently having relinquished his title to avoid a repeat routine mandatory obligation, faced unknown Mexican Mauricio Lara. Leading into the fight it was considered a marking-time contest for the ex-champion from Leeds as he looked towards marquee fights. Little did we realize what was about to unfold.
Over the eight completed rounds Warrington was bludgeoned by the less experienced but heavy handed Mexican. Josh was dropped heavily in the fourth and despite rising at nine looked very unsteady on his feet. Referee Howard Foster almost reluctantly allowed the home fighter to continue. More punishment was to come over the following five rounds until the inevitable stoppage at 0:54 of round nine.
The end came after a heavy body shot was followed by an explosive left hook which forced the referee to stop the contest immediately as Warrington lay prostrate on the canvas. It took some minutes for Josh to gather his senses resulting in collective relief from the few officials, support teams and television crew in attendance.
Warrington (30-1, 7 KO’s) had been out of the ring for sixteen months during which time the Mexican had won five fights. The enforced layoff and lack of fanatical support from his usual home town fans were likely major contributing factors to such a hard and potentially career damaging defeat. The morning after the fight reports of him suffering from a fractured jaw and perforated eardrum started to emerge.
Lara’s performance on the night was exceptional and his victory transformational for his family. Facing his first world ranked fighter, an undefeated ex-champion in that, he can now look forward to more lucrative contests. His record now stands at 22-2 (15 KO’s) and at twenty two years old, with a heavy handed combative style looks set for an exciting career. The thirty year old Warrington must now re-group after what looks like a further extended layoff to allow his wounds to heal and confidence return.
Post-fight the Head of Matchroom Boxing Eddie Hearn summed it up; “He (Warrington) got beat by a hungry, hungry Mexican fighter who changed his life tonight”. Referring to Warrington he said “He will come again”. We hope his words come true as the Leeds man deserves his opportunity to rest and then continue what up to this point has been an excellent career.
Chief support on the Sky Sports televised card was a highly controversial twelve round IBF intercontinental super-featherweight fight between Manchester’s Zelfa Barrett and Spanish road warrior Kiko Martinez. The man from Alicante forced the pace from the onset and appeared to dominate the first two thirds of the fight. Barrett finally set himself to withstand the relentless pressure from Martinez in the last four rounds, but the thirty four year old Spaniard looked to clearly win the fight.
When scores of 118-111, 118-111 and 116-113 were announced in favor of Barrett, the majority of pundits and ‘experts’ were staggered. There was a very slim argument for a draw but that would’ve been very harsh on the Spaniard. The scores returned were quite simply an outrage.
Eddie Hearn to his credit was similarly shocked and disappointed. “118-111 doesn’t do anyone any favours…it wasn’t even worth him (Martinez) bothering”. Cut short by the Sky Sports interviewer despite having more to add, they switched to Martinez who was asked to comment. Speaking through an interpreter he added “I don’t think the judges have been fair to me”. That was the understatement of the night.
Martinez record now reads 41-10-2 (29 KO’s) and the twenty seven year old Barrett rises to 25-1 (15 KO’s).
The stacked card also featured Nottingham’s Leigh Wood (24-2, 14 KO’s) winning the vacant British featherweight title with a stoppage of Doncaster’s Reece Mould (13-1, 6 KO’s) in the ninth round. The official time at 1:03 and by technical knockout. The thirty two year old Wood said it had “Been a long time coming” and now looks to a rematch with old foe Jazza Dickens.
The evening was an excellent restart to a series of Matchroom promotions over the coming month. This will be augmented by a number of interesting Queensberry Promotions as boxing attempts to recover from the enforced suspension of combat.