If Josh Warrington wants the rematch Mauricio Lara is contractually obligated to give him, Eddie Hearn believes that the former IBF featherweight champion will avenge his knockout defeat.
Mexico’s Lara brutally knocked out Warrington in the ninth round of what was supposed to amount to a tune-up fight for the previously undefeated Leeds native Saturday night at Wembley Arena in London. Warrington was listed by most Internet sports books as a 25-1 favorite to beat Lara in their 12-round, non-title fight.
Warrington (30-1, 7 KOs) gave up his IBF featherweight championship three weeks before facing the rugged Lara (22-2, 15 KOs) because the New Jersey-based governing organization wouldn’t sanction Warrington’s tentatively scheduled, subsequent bout against WBA champ Can Xu. It didn’t take Lara long to prove just how live of an underdog Warrington’s unknown, 22-year-old opponent was in their fight.
Once a stunned Warrington recovers physically and mentally from this devastating defeat, Hearn will discuss the possibility of accepting an immediate rematch with Lara.
“Josh is a competitor, he’s a great fighter, he’s a winner, and he will be back,” Hearn, whose company promotes Warrington, told IFL TV in a post-fight interview. “And if he chooses to face Lara again, I believe he’ll beat him. But he needs rest now.”
Lara’s left hook knocked Warrington flat on his back 55 seconds into the ninth round. Referee Howard John Foster quickly waved an end to their fight, without counting.
Warrington had taken a lot of punishment prior to that second knockdown.
Lara’s left hand first floored Warrington with 38 seconds to go in the fourth round. Warrington somehow was able to withstand Lara’s onslaught in the final 23 seconds of that round and valiantly attempted to remain competitive in their fight during the ensuing rounds.
“Again, I hate not giving credit to Lara,” Hearn explained. “You know, [Warrington] was beaten because, you know, I said to Josh in the changing room before the fight, ‘The only way this kid can beat you is if you’re reckless and you trade with him,’ because we knew he could punch a bit. But he’s not in Josh Warrington’s league. You know, Josh Warrington is the ranked number one Ring magazine fighter in the world at featherweight. You know, he’s the featherweight king. ‘So, this guy shouldn’t be beating you. But if you’re not on your game, if your reckless, if you open the door to opportunities, anything could happen.’
“And that’s what happened. And he never recovered. He never recovered from the fourth round. I’ve not seen that much bravery – too brave, to be honest. And he’ll be back. You know, it’s gonna take him a while. It was a brutal fight – a thrilling fight, incredible. And, you know, if there was ever a rematch, it will be epic. But right now, it’s about making sure he’s fit, safe and healthy, and he can rest and recover.”
Hearn suspects Warrington will want a rematch, though he feels the 30-year-old Warrington will need an extended break.
“It’s only a fight that happens if Josh is healthy, fit, safe, firing and wants it,” Hearn said. “Do you know what I mean? We now have options on Lara. I’m working with his team and that option is on Josh. You know, if he wants the rematch, he can make it happen. It’s a massive fight, but I don’t even think it’s worth talking about at the moment because what we should be talking about is making sure he’s OK and giving credit to Mauricio Lara.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.