Mauricio Lara scored the biggest win of his career by miles tonight, going to London to knock out and upset Josh Warrington in a Matchroom main event on DAZN.
Warrington (30-1, 7 KO) had recently vacated his IBF featherweight title, hoping to find bigger fights instead of a mandatory rematch with Kid Galahad, but the move has backfired badly after a terrible night, where Warrington was looking OK early as far as winning rounds, but was also being routinely clipped by Lara (22-2, 15 KO), who was slow of hand and didn’t move with much grace, but clearly even in the first round or two was showing legitimate, thudding power in his hands.
Lara’s power caught up to Warrington in the fourth round, as he dropped the A-side, heavily favored fighter. Referee Howard Foster gave the 30-year-old Warrington every chance in a fight that, to be honest, probably would have been stopped if the roles were reversed. Warrington was staggering desperately around the ring for the remainder of the round, but he did heroically survive, stumbling back to his corner when the round ended.
And Warrington deserves enormous respect for the heart he showed from there, too. His legs were gone in round five, but he won the round, out-working Lara if only because he had no choice but to stand his ground and throw punches. He did try to keep some distance when he could, but his legs were still cooked and he just couldn’t keep away for long.
Lara, whose right eye was swelling and bleeding and closing up from damage, just kept coming forward. Both fighters landed good shots, but it was Warrington shaking, particularly on the left hooks to the head that he kept walking onto. It seemed as though, most likely, Warrington was fighting on instinct, albeit with great heart and determination. It’s too early to say for sure, of course, but people will wonder how much this took out of Warrington. He was fighting buzzed from the fourth round until the end.
“It’s been a great night. I’m really, really happy for my family and all the people back in Mexico,” Lara said after the fight. “We were working round-by-round and it worked out as we planned. Once I put the pressure on him, I didn’t want to tire myself out. He was number one in the world, and there was a reason he was number one. So we took it round-by-round.”
Warrington was taken for medical attention, but promoter Eddie Hearn did speak after the fight, as well.
“This is why it’s the best sport in the world. A young man, 22 years of age, comes in, no one gave him a chance,” Hearn said. “We knew he could fight. He beat the number one featherweight in the world. I don’t think I’ve seen bravery like I saw from Josh Warrington. He never recovered from the shot (in the fourth round).”
Hearn said of Warrington’s performance, “He was erratic after 16 months out of the ring. He got caught with a shot and he never recovered. I’ll never know how he got through the fourth round. ... It’s back to the drawing board (for Warrington). It’s looking to the future. No excuses, he got beaten by a hungry young fighter who changed his life tonight.”
Hearn said there is a rematch clause, if Warrington wants to use it.
“He’s gonna want to take this man on again. After a fight like that, he’ll need a long rest,” the promoter said. “The most important thing now is to make sure he’s OK. That was a brutal fight. We do have the opportunity for a rematch if Warrington wants to, but it’s not on my mind at the moment. Let’s get Josh back to his family, let him recover, and come to terms with what was a devastating defeat. But he will come again, he’s a great fighter. Tonight showed us why we love boxing so much.”
Warrington letting his hands go late in the 2nd. ️ pic.twitter.com/8UwG8Ro70Y— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 13, 2021
Lara stops Warrington and gets the upset victory! pic.twitter.com/16CG8KrYiS— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 13, 2021
Zelfa Barrett UD-12 Kiko Martinez
A closer fight than the scores would tell you, at least the two 118-111 cards, the third was 116-113, all for Barrett, obviously. But I don’t think this was a robbery or something hugely controversial, either. There is often an instinct to say, “Oh, the judges had it wide, they had Barrett running away with it,” but a lot of these rounds basically looked the same. If you consistently scored those to Barrett, you can get a wide card, even though it was clearly a competitive fight.
Martinez, who is still somehow just 34, drops to 41-10-2 (29 KO) with the loss, while Barrett goes to 25-1 (15 KO) with the tough win. It was Martinez who pushed the pace and tempo pretty much all fight, so if you preferred that, you could have scored it his way. If you liked the counters and maybe some of the cleaner shots from the 27-year-old Barrett, you might have kept sliding the rounds in his favor.
I wound up having it 115-113 for Barrett, but I could have gone two rounds wide for Zelfa, I think, or switched two rounds the other way and given it to Martinez. It was not a super easy fight to score, but there was acknowledgement that Kiko just didn’t get much credit, for whatever it’s worth, and that came from all parties.
“I thought it was close, I was in the fight,” Barrett said. “Depends on what you like. Do you like to see pressure, do you like to see boxing?”
Promoter Eddie Hearn took a harder stance on the scores, noting that it’s not good for boxing in Britain if foreign fighters think they won’t get a fair shake.
“Zelfa’s our fighter and it was a very, very close fight. I thought 118-111 was absolutely disgusting for Kiko Martinez,” he said. “How are we gonna bring foreign fighters to this country to take on opponents when they get absolutely zero credit for their performance? If Zelfa won the fight, he won it by a round or two. 118-111, (Martinez) might as well have not even bothered.”
Hearn continued, “It don’t do me any favors, it don’t do Zelfa Barrett any favors, and it don’t do Kiko Martinez any favors. After all that effort, (with those scores), (Martinez) might as well have boxed off the back foot and had an easy night!”
“I don’t think the judges have been fair with me. The best outcome would be a rematch,” Martinez said through a translator. “I don’t think my opponent thinks he’s won, but it was a great fight that has possibly been tarnished by the results.”
“I’m ready for the rematch,” Barrett added, while also saying he definitely thought he won. “I’ve learned a lot from the fight, he’s a good fighter. He’s fought the best. So if it’s a rematch, it’s a rematch. He’s a good fighter, and I don’t take credit away from him.”
Leigh Wood TKO-9 Reece Mould
A spectacular finish from Leigh Wood! pic.twitter.com/HtOsZfJNxp— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) February 13, 2021
This is only a TKO technically, as Wood straight knocked Mould out in the ninth round, but no count as administered because it was over. Really good fight here, the experience of Wood (24-2, 14 KO) was really the biggest difference. Mould (13-1, 6 KO) had some good stuff early on, definitely shook Wood some in the early rounds, but the 32-year-old Wood — now British featherweight champion — came through it nicely and started putting things together.
Mould, 26, was down in the fourth round and on bad legs, but he survived the round and hung in there, showing a lot of toughness. But he didn’t have the variety in offense to break through for too long against Wood, didn’t have the well of experience to draw from; this was the first time he’d ever gone past the sixth round, and a big step up in competition for him.
Mould battled back enough to bloody Wood’s left eye, and Wood kept switching southpaw to protect it, giving Mould a chance to get back in the fight in the eighth round especially. But when Wood got an opening in the ninth, he made it count, as he smashed and dropped Mould with a short left hook that Mould walked onto, then finished things with a flurry of rights and lefts to the head. Mould getting up from the first knockdown of that ninth round said a lot about his toughness, but he was effectively toast there.
Wood credited new trainer Ben Davison with getting the most out of his offense and power, following last year’s loss to Jazza Dickens in the MTK Global Golden Contract tournament. With Dickens now headed for a vacant IBF featherweight title fight against Kid Galahad, Wood would love to get a rematch with the man who beat him a year ago.
“Jazza Dickens is fighting for the world title next, I think he could win,” Wood said. “I would love that rematch, and I think I’d knock him out under Ben Davison.”
- Dalton Smith RTD-3 Ishmael Ellis: Smith, a 24-year-old junior welterweight, is one of my favorite UK prospects on the rise. He’s shown good power, going 7-0 (6 KO) thus far, and more than that he’s shown good accuracy and timing with his shots. His right hand couldn’t miss in this one, and Ellis (11-4, 0 KO) just couldn’t do anything with him. Ellis was tough, and also came in on short notice, but he was out of his depth, and his corner made the smart and right move to end it after three. Ellis had no hope in this fight, and it was scheduled for 10, so there was a long way to go. Keep an eye on Smith if you aren’t already. “You’re seeing the emergence of a great world class fighter,” promoter Eddie Hearn said. “Area levels, English levels, that’s what he’s been beating with ease. ... I believe he can fight for a British title in the next couple of fights.
- Hopey Price PTS-6 Daniel Mendoza: A pretty easy 60-54 score for Price (4-0, 1 KO), a 20-year-old junior featherweight who might settle in at featherweight, he’s tall for the weight; lanky, but tall. Mendoza (11-12, 4 KO) succeeded in making this ugly and getting six rounds out of it, but the fight was all Price, Mendoza didn’t get much of anything done offensively and struggled defensively at range, and when he’d try to get in close Price smothered him well and got it reset to the distance he wanted.