Former IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington returns to the ring after more than a year out of action on 13 February when he takes on Mauricio Lara at Wembley. Warrington last fought at the tail end of 2019, a one-sided TKO win over Sofiane Takoucht, and while the Leeds Warrior refuses to look past next week’s opponent, the undefeated star knows a good performance could lead to much more lucrative bouts later in the year.
Speaking on the Betfred Boxing Show, where he joined hosts Dom McGuinness and Anthony Crolla, the 30-year-old said he was eager to get going again and predicted that, although Lara is a tough operator, the fight won’t last the distance.
“I’ve been wanting to go for months, I’ve been itching, I can’t wait to slip my hand in them brand new 8oz gloves and get warmed up in them,” said Warrington.
“But at the same time, if I go out hell for leather then it’s a 50/50 isn’t it? And you’re giving him a bit of a chance. With that being said, I think as I get into it, get that first round done, second round, brush that bit of dust off and calm myself into it, the way that I’m firing at the minute, when I have been in training, I don’t see it lasting the full distance.
“That’s taking no credit away from Lara, and I hate looking over opponents, but I’m firing on all cylinders at the minute and with the talks of bigger fights down the line, you want to come back with a bang and a good impression.”
Lara might not be a household name, or even a name on the lips of the most avid fight fan yet, but the 22-year-old Mexican certainly has pedigree having started his pro career at just 17. And, despite never having fought for a world title, he is considered one of the top fighters in his boxing-mad home nation. Warrington has done his research though, and while he remains confident, he knows the bout has the potential to be a banana skin.
“He’s a typical Mexican - they love boxing, he’s gonna be fit, he’s gonna come forward, he’ll be able to throw punches from all angles. From the clips we’ve seen of him, he loves a left hook, he loves a left uppercut and he throws it a little wild,” added Warrington. “Now, that can be quite dangerous when you’re not anticipating them kinds of shots coming, so I’ve got to make sure that right hand’s tight and the counters are well.
“From the footage I have seen, I don’t think he does the distance well, even though he seems to keep on coming. He seems to blow and the arms start coming down a little bit so I think for the first three, four rounds it’s going to be very dangerous - the longer the fight goes on, the more susceptible he is to getting caught with a big one.”
In January Warrington vacated the IBF title he’d held since beating Lee Selby in 2018 when the governing body refused to sanction a unification clash with WBA featherweight champion Can Xu and instead ordered a mandatory defence against Kid Galahad, whom Warrington beat in 2019. Warrington wants to make it clear, however, that dropping the belt won’t have an impact on his plans this year.
“People have messaged me ‘Why have you done that, Josh? You worked so hard to get it.’ But it’s not about taking a step back or anything like that. We’re just taking a different route. I’m not going to be dictated to by one organisation and one belt - I believe I can go on and win more and more belts. I was ordered to fight my mandatory challenger [Kid Galahad], something I’ve done and it’s time to move on from that now.
“The Can Xu fight is still there and open, like with Gary Russell and the WBC. Get this one out of the way and there’s talks of Xu in a few months time.”