The first boxing event of the year took place at The SSE Arena on Saturday, February 13, and what followed the event was a multitude of talking points and ensuing debates circulating around social media.
As Josh Warrington fell to unknown Mexican Mauricio Lara during an exciting fight that shocked every spectator watching, the debates were instantly ignited amongst fight fans. Reports have confirmed that Josh was given the all clear from routine scans overnight but suffered a fractured jaw, perforated eardrum and a shoulder injury. He has a rematch clause in the contract.
BBN have asked their panel of experts what they thought of the many things that took place during the fight night.
Eric Donovan, Irish featherweight champion: "Winning is important, I get that, but at what price? Warrington was fighting concussed there for 5/6 rounds. Fighters are warriors, sometimes they need to be saved from themselves. But I would have fought on the very same. Easier to be opinioated from the outside."
Danny Flexen, Seconds Out: "Situation reversed, referee stops that 100%"
Andrew Harrison, Boxing Writer: "After his balance went they should have saved him for another day. I'm sure there's a physical issue (burst eardrum maybe). Ref did him no favours at all letting it go."
Tim Rickson, BBN Editor: "Referee Howard Foster clearly knew who was paying his wages that night. There's no doubt that if Lara was taking the punishment that Warrington was receiving in round four, that the fight would definitely have been stopped. Because it was the home fighter, he was allowed to continue way past the point of when the stoppage should have been called. I have no doubt about that. Watching him walk back to the corner, not knowing where he was and barely making it there - he couldn't walk in a straight line - and then his team sending him straight back out again?!! I couldn't believe they allowed him to go back out after that, his balance was off, his legs were gone. Dangerous decision."
Mick Kane, Boxing Writer: "If the ref had stopped the fight in the fourth, I don't think anyone would have complained. When Warrington was walking back to the corner, he was all over the place, it couldn't even been stopped then. Saying that, after the first minute of the fifth when he still looked a bit ropey, Warrington came on strong and probably won that round. I thought then he had got over the worse but Lara was still able to catch him, culminating in the stoppage. Did he take unnecessary damage? Probably."
Jack Bradley, BBN Writer: "Absolutely. Warrington shouldn’t have been allowed to hear the bell for the end of the fourth round, never mind being allowed to come out for the fifth. Had it been Lara in that position, he’d have been back in his dressing room licking his wounds a few minutes later. Whatever damaged Warrington sustained after that first knockdown was wholly unavoidable."
Daniel Smith, BBN Writer: "It was a brutal and ugly night of featherweight fisticuffs at Wembley Arena. From the opening bell, Warrington found problems slipping into his renowned, rapid, violent gear, where powerful combinations wreak havoc, rattling-dizzy the toughest of fighters. Josh looked uneasy, and drained of bad intentions.
Lara banged and sank vicious shots into Warrington for nine, nasty rounds of boxing. Josh fired back with a glut of terse answers, but the Mexican’s questions kept coming; each one more convoluted than the next. After Warrington was hurt and dropped in the fourth, the bout could have easily been stopped. The punishment in the fourth carried its momentum into the ninth and final round, where Josh suffered a torrent of leathered damage before sinking to the canvas."
Tim Rickson, BBN Editor: "I think so. He's been looking ahead to either Xu Can or Gary Russell Jr. next, and I believe he understimated his 31st opponent. But then so did I and everyone else. I called him a 'middling' Mexican in my fight preview, thinking he wasn't on the same level as the former world champion, but I couldn't have been any more wrong!"
Mick Kane, Boxing Writer: "Looking at the fight with hindsight it appears Warrington did overlook Lara, most people probably did. The Mexican showed he has decent power and could be a handful for most."
Jack Bradley, BBN Writer: "Warrington is long enough in the tooth to know better than to look past an opponent. However, riding the crest of a wave of a string of good wins, it’s possible that he thought he would have enough to comfortably deal with a relatively unknown quantity in Lara. Events in the build-up to this, with the vacating of the belt, suggest that this fight was only a small part of a bigger picture but it’s perhaps unedifying to say it is Warrington who was overlooking Lara, rather than his team and promoter."
Tim Rickson, BBN Editor: "I've heard all the excuses already - the twins, the layoff, the weight. Keeping it as simple as possible, I think there were three factors above the rest, that Mauricio Lara was far better than we all thought and gave credit for; his power was too much for Warrington, I've seen him take a few and always respected his chin, but Lara must have been the hardest puncher he's ever faced; lastly, I think Warrington wasn't himself in there. Taking nothing away from Lara, but Warrington wasn't as busy and energetic as normal, I didn't see as many punches coming from him as I'm used to seeing, he didn't apply pressure like he usually does, so I definitely think it was an off night for him. Other factors could have been the lack of crowd, he loves his support, so may not have got up for this fight feeling more like a sparring session in a gym; then there's the long layoff too."
Mick Kane, Boxing Writer: "I think the biggest reason for Warrington losing was the strange emptiness of the arena, he is used to a raucous support who could have spurred him on, made him fight on the front floor rather than throw one or two punches at a time. He seemed off the boil from the start and a lack of atmosphere and indeed a lack of action from Warrington in the preceding 16 months took its toll."
Jack Bradley, BBN Writer: "He got caught with a good shot in the first and continued to get tagged. It’s as simple as that really. Warrington’s style is one that doesn’t benefit from an extended period out of the ring, whilst Lara fought several times last year, and backed himself to trade with the Leeds man. Come the fourth round, Warrington was taking damage, suffered a bad knockdown against a lad who knew he could change his life here - Lara was never letting him off the hook."
Daniel Smith, BBN Writer: "Time away from the squared circle has played its part in Warrington’s defeat. I do believe the ‘Leeds Warrior’ can come again and seek revenge upon the Mexican. Here’s to a second waltz."
Matt Macklin, World title contender: "I had it 114-114. Barrett finished strong but lost too many of the early rounds. 118-111 is an absolute shocker of a card."
Tim Rickson, BBN Editor: "It was atrocious! There needs to be a review of these bad scorings because it's just the same old story. For me, Zelfa only really came alive in the championship rounds, and that is too late to turn the fight back in your favour when you only dominate in the final three or four rounds. Martinez's aggression and workrate should have swung nearly every one of the early rounds in his favour, and yes there were a few swing rounds to consider, but I was scoring it as a draw, with my fingers crossed that Zelfa would get the nod. 111-118 twice? That is absolutley diabolical!"
Jack Bradley, BBN Writer: "Absolutely disgusting - just abhorrent scoring. Let’s called a spade a spade here: it was a robbery. It’s right up there with the Ritson-Vazquez result from October last year. The sad thing is, this won’t stop. Chances are, we’ll see a similarly poor display of scoring before the month is out. Kiko Martinez won that fight and should be travelling back to Spain the victor, but instead, he’ll be left to pursue a rematch that other parties probably won’t want to take after that performance. I like Zelfa Barrett, but he was way off in there last night - will he really fancy that rematch?"
Liam Smith, Former World Champion: "Huge welterweight Dalton Smith, gonna take some beating, really rate him."
Chris McKenna, Sports Journalist: "Dalton Smith is one of the most exciting rising prospects in British boxing. Good team behind him too."
Eric Donovan, Irish Featherweight Champion: "Very good stoppage from the Ellis corner, well done. Dalton Smith is a serious operator, great future ahead of him."
Tim Rickson, BBN Editor: "For me, it was Dalton Smith. I thought he looked very good, and it was one of those performances where you come away thinking that this fighter could be the next biggest thing! I was a fan already, but now he's going to be a fighter that I'm going to follow very closely. He had a decent opponent in front of him too.
On the subject of the three undercard fights, I thought that Nadim was very patient and professional in his fight with Jonny Phillips. Trained by Ricky Hatton, he boxed intelligently and was so calm and composed.
I hate to say it but Hopey Price didn't impress me. I think he had the easiest assignment of all the fighters on the event, but didn't blow him away like I think he should have done.
I would have chosen Leigh Wood as the fighter of the night, but I kind of expected him to win the way he did. That was a great fight and brilliant performance from Wood, I'm pleased he finally got his hands on that British belt. He was 11-0 when he lost to Gavin McDonnell for the British title, so Reece Mould will come again. He showed a lot heart and bravery and I think he'll become the champion one day."
Jack Bradley, BBN Writer: "Mauricio Lara has to take the plaudits here, but a special mention goes to Dalton Smith, who put in a really accomplished performance. Composed as you like, he picked his shots and paced himself well, breaking down Ishmael Ellis. Jon Pegg - who is undoubtedly one of the ‘good guys’ of the sport - did the right thing in pulling his fighter out, as Ellis was starting to get hit cleanly far too regularly."