Josh Warrington vs Mauricio Lara: Leeds Warrior will impress and keep his title hopes alive

Boxer Josh Warrington
Josh Warrington picked to keep sharp with another impressive win

Josh Warrington leads UK boxing's big comeback card this weekend and Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse can't wait...

"Warrington was preparing and hoping for a much bigger challenge"

Josh Warrington vs Mauricio Lara
Saturday, 22:30
Live on Sky Sports

Boxing comes out swinging

UK professional boxing returns to our screens following a month-long lockdown and the sport seems determined to come out swinging. Matchroom Sports frontman Eddie Hearn has put together a mouth-watering menu for fight fans to tuck into, starting with this weekend's action at Wembley Arena.

Former world champion and unbeaten fighter Josh Warrington returns to the ring to face Mexico's Mauricio Lara over 10 rounds in a non-title fight. This will be the first time since 2017 Warrington hasn't been involved in a world title bout, but Saturday's outing is no less important as the Leeds Warriors charts world domination.

Can Xu falls through

Warrington takes part in his 31st professional outing and does so with a perfect CV detailing 30 wins with seven coming inside the distance. The 30-year-old fighting pride of Yorkshire won the IBF world featherweight title with a split decision over Welshman Lee Selby in 2018. He made three successful defences, beating Carl Frampton, Kid Galahad and Sofiane Takoucht.

Josh was expected to put his title on the line in a unification bout with China's WBA world champion Can Xu but that one fell through. The 26-year-old from Beijing shelved any plans to face Warrington in a winner takes all match, citing an unwillingness to box with no fans in attendance. That was a blow to the Brit, but he refused to let it derail his plans.

Scrambling for a new opponent, matchmakers made Warrington vs Lara and it's no surprise to see bettors show their strong support for Josh. The current fight winner odds on the Betfair Exchange has Warrington as a 1.051/20 jolly. That's sure to push backers into the method of victory market where the KO/TKO is 1.654/6 with a points win 2.447/5.

Bronco boasts a winning run

Arriving in London intent on spoiling the party is Mexico City featherweight Lara. The 22-year-old brings a record detailing 21 wins and 14 knockouts against just two defeats with one of those coming inside the distance. Bronco lost on his pro debut back in 2015 but responded to win each of his next 11 as a paid fighter. That shows an incredible amount of character and gives British fans a taste of what to expect from Lara.

He was stopped in a round by Eliot Chavez three years ago and, again, immediately set back down the comeback trail. He jets into London with the confidence that comes from a 10-fight winning run and it could have been 11 if not for a no-contest decision in Mexico City last summer when stopping Alejandro Palmero in a round.

Despite his form and obvious punch power - the Mexican brings a 58% KO average - Mauricio has been written off in the betting as little more than an opponent. Backers will find Lara trading at odds of 2221/1 for the win and that price tells the story of what the away fighter should offer. He's 109/1 to win by knockout, a points victory also 109/1 on the Betfair Exchange.

Josh to double up

Lara looks like a worthy opponent on paper but it's fair to say Warrington was preparing and hoping for a much bigger challenge than the one he's getting on Saturday. The home fighter is on course for a title bout this year but must win at Wembley to keep those hopes alive.

Josh doesn't just have to win he must do it in style. He isn't known for his knockout power, but he did stop Takoucht in two rounds last time at the Leeds Direct Arena. He looks worth a bet to double up here but it's unlikely to be early. Bet this fight to go beyond the 6.5 rounds stage at evens on the Sportsbook.

Barrett to box clever on the undercard

Zelfa Barrett vs Kiko Martinez
Saturday, 21:30
Live on Sky Sports

Zelfa Barrett takes on experienced Spaniard Kiko Martinez in the programme's chief support. Brown Flash brings a professional record of 24 wins against one defeat with 15 victories inside the distance. His only defeat came back in 2018 against Ronnie Clark on a majority decision over 12 rounds.

Martinez has seen it all in a career that can be traced back to 2004. His CV currently stands at 41 wins against nine defeats and two draws. He has stopped 29 of his victims but has been halted four times himself. At 34 he's not an old fighter but will be feeling the effects of a long, hard career spent battling the best in the lower weights.

Kiko will know enough to give the favourite a test and take him into the later rounds but the younger Barrett should possess the energy and sharpness to get the job done. He's picked to win this one on points at 2.3611/8.

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