Josh Warrington left with fractured jaw and a perforated ear drum after shock defeat to Mauricio Lara
Josh Warrington’s return to the ring after vacating his International Boxing Federation featherweight title ended in a brutal ninth round knockout for Mauricio Lara, the unranked 22-year-old Mexican, and will likely have serious consequences for the Leeds fighter’s career. The move to vacate the belt in order to challenge the division’s other world champions backfired horribly for a number of reasons, though the old adage that you should ‘expect the unexpected’ was in full flow at Wembley Arena as live boxing made its return after a two-month enforced lay-off due to the national lockdown. Warrington had been out of the ring for 15 months, and his inactivity, something many fighters are having to cope with at the moment, was clear to see. The former champion’s strategy of trading leather from the opening bell against a fighter eight years his junior proved to be reckless when he was floored in the fourth round having left himself open. Should referee Howard Foster have stopped the contest then, with Warrington’s senses scrambled and the boxer clearly in deep trouble? Ordinarily, yes, but factor in his staying power shown many times in past fights, and the facts he was the home fighter and a world champion, and it’s easy to understand Foster’s thinking. The five further rounds that Warrington battled on for – using his fitness, instincts and champion’s heart to keep him in with a slim chance of turning the fight around – may cost his future career and health dear. But Sean O’Hagan, his trainer and father, could also have thrown the towel in at any point from the fourth round on. He is the man who knows Warrington best.