Josh Warrington v Mauricio Lara
Live on DAZN
The rematch we all wanted to see
Former IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington gets the chance to avenge the only loss on his record when facing rival Mauricio Lara this weekend. The pair renew rivalries over 12 rounds at the Headingley Rugby League Stadium in Leeds as the main attraction on a stacked card promoted by Eddie Hearn for Matchroom Boxing.
A huge audience will be in attendance, with millions of more fight fans watching worldwide thanks to the live TV action. Warrington v Lara I was a dramatic encounter with the previously unbeaten Englishman dropped to the canvas twice before being stopped in round nine. Will he level the score, or can the battle-hardened Mexican do the double?
No excuses from the Leeds Warrior
That first defeat moved Warrington's record to 30-1-0, with just seven of his victories coming by knockout. The Leeds Warrior is an all-action pressure-fighter who aims to overwhelm opponents with his work rate, but he lacked the power to keep Lara off that night in February at Wembley Arena. The popular 30-year-old must change things up if he is to stand any chance of levelling the score. Team Warrington now knows he can't meet fire with fire against Lara.
Despite entering as the overwhelming favourite for the first fight, priced like losing wasn't an option, it quickly became obvious all was not right with Josh. He lacked his usual energy and confidence, struggled to find his range, and took more shots in those nine rounds than he had taken in much of his career. Several excuses were made for his performance, including he was weight drained, struggling to get under the featherweight limit.
Making excuses isn't Warrington's style, and there could be no hiding the fact he was well beaten by Lara in London, an opponent who wanted it more and grabbed his opportunity. The performance isn't as important as the result here. Warrington must win at all costs to keep alive his hopes of becoming a two-time world champion. He's 1.9210/11 on the Betfair Exchange to win with a points win 2.68/5 and the KO/TKO 6.611/2.
Bronco aiming for more of the same
Lara's performance back in winter is what we have come to expect from Mexican fighters over the years. He came into his opponent's backyard as a huge outsider, kept quiet during the build-up, and then did his talking in the ring. Bronco was fit, game and fought like his life depended on winning the bout. He put it all on the line and became an overnight sensation of the fight game in one performance. Few knew his name beforehand, but Mauricio now has many more fans.
The 23-year-old from Mexico City didn't take a backwards step at Wembley, catching his English opponent with strong shots at will, and he looked to be hurting Warrington with every jab and backhand. There was little coming in return, but the shots Josh did get off were handled well by the defence of this young but experienced gladiator. He'll be confident of giving us more of the same.
Critics who had brushed Lara off as a man with no chance of stopping his opponent's march to the top of the division have been forced to take the Mexican seriously. That is reflected in the betting, but there's still value to be had in backing another upset. Lara to make it two from two is available at 2.0811/10 with another KO/TKO 2.3611/8. The points win on English soil is deemed unlikely at 76/1.
Warrington has the talent to improve
The value is with Lara in this fight as he's more than good enough to win again, but I won't be backing him. Warrington is a special fighter who is as honest as they come. He'll know what went wrong last time, even if he doesn't come out and admit it, and he's talented enough to put it right. It will take a huge effort to win the rematch, but Josh can do it.
His best chance comes from staying out of danger, getting off the centre and avoiding the crisps jabs of Lara. If he can take the jab away from his opponent and box him, the Mexican will lack the rhythm and confidence he did in February. Take Warrington to throw himself back into title contention with an exciting points victory.