Now under the promotional might of Matchroom, Warrington ramps up his competition to face Mauricio Lara – a fighter who has only ever fought once outside his native Mexico.
Matchroom: Warrington vs Lara Predictions & Results
Josh Warrington is marmite to many boxing fans in the UK. I would say around the world, but the likelihood is that few Americans even have knowledge of the Featherweight’s existence. Always bringing a massive, vocal Leeds crowd to support his boxing endeavours, Warrington has repaid their loyalty in the form of an undefeated record. While his measly 23% knockout rate is abysmal for any professional, Warrington’s punches have seemed to carry extra weight since his unanimous decision to Carl Frampton. There will never be a power-punching version of the Space Raider, but by opting to sit down on his shots more regularly, he has been able to gain more respect in the early rounds than he used to (i.e. Kiko Martinez).
Mauricio Lara is an unknown quantity, and as such, should always be deemed somewhat dangerous before he showcases himself in the ring. Having only fought outside of his native Mexico only once, however, raises serious red flags. Without any names of real quality on his record, it is somewhat astonishing that Hearn has managed to fumble this fight together. Realistically, Eddie likely threw a dart on a list of names and it landed on Lara. Choosing not to risk it against Erislandy Lara, Hearn settled on the more suitable, Mauricio Lara.
Zelfa Barrett and Leigh Wood are two big names to keep an eye on further down the card. Barrett’s finish against Eric Donovan was certified highlight reel filth, but the crafty counter-puncher had struggled for the first six rounds. While technically superb, Wood is coming off of a razor-thin defeat against James Dickens for the European Featherweight title. Unable to establish a comfortable range in which to work his jab, Wood will no doubt be eager to break out of his domestic ceiling.
Josh Warrington (30-0, 7KO) vs Mauricio Lara (21-2, 14KO)
Space Raider deserves a little respect attached to his name these days. Once the meme of the boxing community, viewed as a loudmouth upstart with feather dusters for fists, Warrington has proved doubters wrong time and time again. I must admit, I had Warrington losing by a landslide in his first real step up against Lee Selby for the IBF title. Boy, was I wrong! The pace that Warrington can lay down in the first round, and continue until the final bell, is astonishing. Constantly edging forward on the front-foot, Warrington chips his way into range and patiently waits for his opponent to throw out a loose strike. Working around his crazy speed advantage, Warrington returns four/five shots in response to an opponent’s shot. While he rarely plants his feet to the extent that opponents will be treated to an early night’s sleep, Warrington’s volume accumulates on the scorecards and wears on an opponent’s mental. Against former champion, Carl Frampton, Warrington made the Northern Irishman look a decade older – beating him to the punch in every exchange.
Warrington’s desire to target the body is a double-edged sword. Once in the pocket, Warrington throws a couple of mean body shots that force opponents to shell up. Unfortunately, when Warrington does change level, he also drops his lead hand. As a result, it is far too common to see Warrington tagged by silly shots when he attempts to work the body. Lucky for the Yorkshireman, then, that his chin has never been in question throughout his career. Although trainer, Sean O’Hagan, may have little experience with world champions outside of Warrington – he has so far proved a shrewd coach. If Warrington is to succeed against the top dogs such as Emanuel Navarrete, Miguel Berchelt or Gary Russell Jr., he may have to consider transitioning to a more renowned camp.
If you hadn’t heard of Mauricio Lara before tonight then fear not, you are not a casual, you are just a victim of an Eddie Hearn matchmaking masterclass. On paper, Lara’s 21-2 record is appealing, however upon reviewing the tape, it flags many questions. Against Jesus Quijada (16-6-2) just a couple fights back, Lara frequently lunges into his punches. With fourteen knockouts to his name, Lara no doubt trusts his power, but his porous striking defence will be punished against a competent counter puncher. Lara’s footwork, while plodding, is surprisingly sharp on the back foot and goes some way to plaster over his lack of guard/head movement.
Predicted Result: Warrington TKO Round 6
Lara’s best work arises when his opponent is backed against the ropes and has the space to plant his feet. Against the volume of Josh Warrington, Lara’s lack of guard and inability to fight off the back foot will be his downfall. While the Mexican will provide the Yorkshireman a few competitive rounds, it is hard to see Lara having the quality to regularly crack Warrington’s chin – regardless of his fourteen KO power. Warrington’s counter left hook will hurt Lara bad when he inevitably lunges in.
Result: Lara def. Warrington // TKO Round 9 0:54
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌
Super Featherweight (130)
IBF Inter-Continental Super Featherweight Title
Zelfa Barrett (24-1, 15KO) vs Kiko Martinez (41-9-2, 29KO)
As a fellow Mancunian, it is hard not to love Zelfa Barrett. Barrett looked phenomenal when he picked up the Commonwealth title back at the end of 2019, destroying the tough but limited Jordan McCorry over nine rounds. Utilising his superior reach to jab opponents, Barrett aims to bait opponents into a dangerous range before peppering them with lightning-fast counters. Once his opponent has been forced to respect his power, Barrett is more confident in fighting off of the front foot. Up close, Barrett attempts to sneak in a liver shot on most combinations – a strike that pays dividends later down the line.
Against Eric Donovan, a decorated Irish amateur, Barrett was outclassed during the early proceedings. During a tense affair, Donovan was able to avoid most of Barrett’s significant work. Moreover, Donovan kept complete control over the centre of the ring, and as such, forced Barrett to fight on the outside – perhaps his weakest area. Power is the greatest equaliser, so they say. With a surprise bang in the seventh round, Barrett landed a TNT left hook that sent Donovan on an Aer Lingus to the mat. Hopefully, Barrett’s failure to establish a comfortable distance was simply ‘new promotion’ jitters and an attempt to promote himself with an early finish.
Spaniard, Kiko Martinez, has been around for absolutely donkeys. Flicking through the career of Martinez, a sparkling list of former and future champions can be identified (Carl Frampton, Scott Quigg, Leo Santa Cruz, Josh Warrington, Gary Russell Jr). At thirty-four years old, and with over fifty fights to his name, Martinez can accurately be described as ‘over the hill’ at this point. That isn’t to say that Martinez is a no-hoper, however. It was only a few years ago that Martinez dragged Warrington through hell to a majority decision loss. Against Russell Jr, however, Martinez struggled to get any offence off against the fleet-footed American. Falling into his straight shots and leaving his body open for counters, it would seem that Martinez’s weaknesses play into Barrett’s strengths.
Predicted Result: Barrett TKO Round 10
Kiko Martinez’s experience should never be counted out. Well over the hill at this point, and with a chin that has been worn down over time, the Spaniard still operates with tight fundamentals and drag opponents deep into the fight. Unfortunately, after enduring a long career against Featherweight’s finest, Martinez will struggle to get inside the freak length of Barrett. While the Mancunian struggled to control a comfortable distance against Eric Donovan, his speed, power and bodywork will hurt the thirty-four-year-old. In fairness to Eddie, this is the perfect step-up match for Barrett.
Result: Barrett def. Martinez // Decision (unanimous – 116-113, 118-111, 118-111)
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Rest of the Card
vacant British Featherweight Title
Leigh Wood (23-2, 13KO) vs Reece Mould (13-0, 6KO)
Leigh Wood needs to capture the British title on Saturday night if he wants any chance at breaking onto the world level. At thirty-two, Wood has spent much of his on the domestic level, despite his skill. A tall, rangey fighter, Wood’s best work comes from the left hook off his jab. Able to use his reach to tag opponents with the jab, Wood then wheels on an angle to land his hook and turn his opponent’s around with ease. By changing angles, Wood stops opponent’s bull-rushing into range and forces them to continually set their feet – at which point, Wood has already started to land once again. Against Jazza Dickens, Wood’s lack of power reared its ugly head. Unable to gain any respect from Dickens, Wood was forced into an ugly dog fight against the ropes and tied up in clinches.
Warrington’s sparring partner, Reece Mould, is a heavy underdog coming into this affair. Despite his undefeated record, Mould has failed to a scalp of quality, even with an English featherweight title to his name. Securing a fourth-round knockout over Sean Davis, the then 14-2 fighter has since raced to a 14-14 record. Worse still, watching the fight, Davis was unable to eat some rather tame shots. As such, it is difficult to gauge just how good Mould is.
Predicted Result: Wood Decision
The available tape for Mould is limited and his English Featherweight title fight against Sean Davis looks a joke on review. Mould effectively spent four rounds chasing a knockout and revealed little in the way of technique. Mould’s speed is no joke, but his propensity to shell up behind a high guard will play into the hands of Wood. Wood’s reach will pepper his opponent all night, and it is yet to be seen if Mould can drag Wood into a dogfight in the manner of Jazza Dickens.
Result: Wood def. Mould // TKO Round 9 1:03
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Super Lightweight (140)
Dalton Smith (6-0, 5KO) vs Ishmael Ellis (11-3)
Dalton Smith is certainly a prospect to keep your eye on. A decorated amateur, Smith claimed gold at the ABA championships, as well as representing Britain at several European/Commonwealth Championships. At only twenty-four, Smith stepped up from the path of can crushing to knockout Nathan Bennett in the fifth round. Remaining calm with his weight evenly distributed, Smith is a reactive fighter who can transition between the front and back foot with ease. While his output, especially with the jab, will need to be worked upon in the future – Smith looks the part so far.
It would be fair to say that Ishmael Ellis isn’t going to threaten the chin of Smith on Saturday night. Having to failed secure a single knockout over eleven victories, Ellis is a tall, speedy fighter. Ellis is sharp on his one-two and ends combinations with an uppercut that splits the guard. Unfortunately, Ellis regularly falls into his shots and leaves his chin exposed in the pocket.
Predicted Result: Smith TKO Round 7
Ellis’ speed may cause a few issues during the opening rounds, but his tendency to fall into shots and a refusal to cover his chin up in the pocket will result in Smith eventually hitting the mark. Smith’s limited output may be an issue, but Ellis doesn’t have any sort of power to threaten Smith into submission.
Result: Smith def. Ellis // TKO (Retired) Round 3 3:00
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ❌
Super Bantamweight (122)
Ivan Price (3-0, 1KO) vs Daniel Mendoza (11-11, 4KO)
At twenty-years-old, Ivan Price is yet another Matchroom prospect with an electric amateur background. Former European and Olympic Youth champion (the first British boxer to secure gold at the Youth Olympics), Price has already fought on the undercard of some mega cards (AJ vs Ruiz II and Crolla’s retirement). Against Jonny Phillips in his last outing, Price kept his foe at bay with a pawing jab and movement that left Phillips wafting at thin air.
Nicaraguan, Daniel Mendoza, has spent the past couple of years doing the rounds as a journeyman across the European scene. What was once the WBC Latino title challenger, Mendoza is now a glorified stat padder. I cannot find any footage of this man in action, so hey ho.
Predicted Result: Price Decision
Even with the complete lack of footage available online, Daniel Mendoza is unlikely to have the goods to threaten Price. The decorated amateur (former Youth Olympic champion) will gain vital experience against a seasoned professional from a different boxing culture.
Result: Price def. Mendoza // Decision (referee’s scorecard – 60-54)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Ibrahim Nadim (2-0) vs Jonny Phillips (5-5, 2KO)
Yet another young (twenty-one) prospect in the Matchroom stable with a glittering amateur background (ABA champion) who couldn’t be bothered waiting out several years for the Olympics. Currently spending his time learning against the journeymen, his giant 5’10” frame has dwarfed his two opponents so far. Nadim can lean in with his chin exposed, however, and it is a disaster waiting to happen unless he tightens up. Against Stefan Nicolae, Nadim was tagged clean several times with a hook.
Jonny Phillips returns once again as the Matchroom whipping boy, following his decisive defeat to Ivan Price a few months ago. Wilson is a blitzing fighter who throws full-blooded shots in bunches. The technique isn’t polished, but his work in the ring is honest and he lands far more often than he really should be allowed.
Predicted Result: Phillips Decision
It is time for a crazy prediction. Nadim’s height, amateur background and Phillip’s lack of power all point towards Nadim cruising this on the scorecards. Nadim’s chin remains wide open after he launches his own offence, however. While Phillips won’t always spy the opening, he has always adopted a risk-taking approach that will lead him to eventually land cleanly.
Result: Nadim def. Phillips // Decision (referee’s scorecard – 60-55)
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Matchroom: Warrington vs Lara
2021 Boxing Season
Takeaway comments: Oh Space Raider, what has happened to you fella?