Its been a strange period for Josh Warrington, who in the peak of his career has been starved of action for over a year until last weekend having beaten the odds on multiple occasions.
The Leeds born boxer already vacated his IBF Featherweight belt prior to the fight, and reunited with boxing promoter Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport in an attempt to match up against the world’s elite.
However, a shock knockout loss to unknown 22 year old Mexican Maurico Lara set Warrington back in his quest to conquer the division and defy the odds yet again.
Lara seemed to be having the best of Warrington for the majority of the contest, and dropped the Yorkshireman in the fourth round. Warrington was able to get back up but his legs were buckling and the bout was close to stopping.
It was a similar story there after until Lara landed the final blow in the ninth round to record a first professional loss for his opponent.
After beating the likes of Lee Selby, Carl Frampton and Kid Galahad, it was a real kick in the teeth for Warrington, so what really went wrong on the night for him that caused such an upset?
Right from the first bell, it was not a Josh Warrington performance we are used to seeing which is high pressure and intensity that terrifies opponents and has them on the back foot.
The 30 year old looked sluggish and was easily stunned when caught by the power of Lara. He was looking to be much more technical and precise, traits that Warrington is not known for as we usually see punches in bunches due to his terrific cardio and energy he has in the ring.
With only having seven stoppages on his resume, the former champion has rare one punch knockout power so seeing this approach from him was unusual.
Warrington did show true fight when he was dropped in the fourth round for getting back up and recovering when the fight was seconds away from ending, a credit to him having a strong chin and the desire of a champion.
However, as the fight ticked on it was more and more obvious that Warrington needed a stoppage to win which was always going to be unlikely.
He usually sets the tone for the fight from the first round onwards, and unfortunately for him that was a tone in benefit of Lara on this particular occasion.
Overall, there were rare moments in the contest where Warrington was looking a real danger to Lara, and looked more and more vulnerable after the fourth round knockdown until the inevitable finish.
Something which has been affecting many boxers by the pandemic, but ring rust definitely had a part to play in Warrington not looking his normal self on the night.
It was October 2019 when he last competed against Sofiane Takoucht, a fight that only lasted a couple of rounds. 16 months of inactivity is not ideal for a man desperate to prove himself once more and this has a huge effect on athletes, not least in the fight game where losses can lead to devastating consequences.
Tyson Fury even commented after the bout agreeing that ring rust is a huge reason for fighters looking off the boil and unlike their usual selves.
It is said that inactivity can be damaging for fighters, as sparring and drills in the gym can only take you so far and professional fights are the only way to keep improving drastically.
The preparation of a fight day can only be practiced through being active, and the lack of this can cause rustiness inside the ring. The hiatus proved costly for Warrington who will no doubt be wanting to recover from the loss as quickly as possible once he has recovered.
Another one due to Covid-19, but no fans inside arenas can impact some athletes more than others and Warrington is a fighter who feeds off the energy of the crowd better than most.
When he usually makes the walk, he is greeted by the roar of his hometown fans singing ‘Marching on Together’ to spur him on. During the fight, the noise of the arena will naturally raise adrenaline levels for fighters, and the high pressure style of fighting that Warrington brings suits this to a tee.
Despite the lack of recent activity, fans in attendance may have helped him in the opening rounds to find that hunger and get off to a quick start like he usually does.
With Lara being a youngster from Mexico, the absence of fans may have helped him settle the nerves in comparison to a packed crowd who are screaming for his opponent to rip his head off.
Albeit this was not the main factor for the loss, it certainly impacted Warrington and made it less of an occasion that he normally thrives from.
Underestimating the opponent
Although Warrington takes every opponent seriously, there may have been a slight underestimation in the danger that Lara would bring to the fight.
Prior to the bout, pundits were suggesting that Warrington would breeze the fight and considered it a tune up bout for what is to come in the future. Lara was written off from the get go because of his age and lack of high profile names he has faced in the past.
Lara has now recorded 22 victories in a career that is just getting started, 15 coming by way of knockout which highlights the power he possesses in comparison to Warrington. It was always naïve to judge Lara in this way and the pressure that Warrington was under to put him away quickly may have hindered him.
After the fight, Eddie Hearn talked about how foreign fighters are sometimes disrespected when they come over to England, and could prevent them from competing in the country in the near future.
This was when he was referring to the co main event on the evening when Manchester born Zelfa Barrett defeated Kiko Martinez via unanimous decision when the fight was much closer than suggested. Hearn lashed out on the judges disrespecting Martinez, a similar picture to how Lara was being portrayed prior to his clash with Warrington.
One thing we need to be better at is paying the dues of overseas fighters, and this perception around Lara being weak may have come into the mindset of Warrington.
Whoever Warrington faces next must be at the next available date once he is fully healthy.
A rematch in the not so near future with Lara seems sensible for now, with a seasoned veteran more appropriate for his next fight in order to get his timing back and to get back to winning ways.
Although the route to further success has taken a setback, there is still plenty of time for Warrington to prove the doubters wrong further more in the coming years.