Josh Warrington was floored and ruthlessly finished by Mauricio Lara in a sensational knockout loss that shattered ambitious plans for the former IBF king.
The ‘Leeds Warrior’ endured a stunning upset defeat as he was dropped and nearly stopped in the fourth round before Lara sent him crashing to the canvas again in the ninth to end Warrington’s unbeaten record at The SSE Arena in Wembley on Saturday night.
Warrington had vacated his IBF belt in a bid to speed up negotiations for a major fight later in the year, but this massive setback has scuppered a proposed challenge to any of the world champions in his weight class.
In a frenetic opener, Warrington whipped in early hooks to test the defences of Lara, who was eager to unload his own crude punches.
Warrington was warier in the second round, having felt the rugged power of Lara, but could not resist the temptation to plant his feet, hammering in hooks in the closing seconds.
This respectful approach from Warrington continued into the third as he eventually darted into range to deliver thudding body shots.
But Warrington endured a disastrous round in the fourth as he crumpled to the canvas after a string of clubbing hooks from Lara.
Rising unsteadily, Warrington appeared to be on the brink of being stopped and somehow staggered through more power punches from Lara.
Warrington displayed his grit in the fifth, firing back defiantly in a bid to stall Lara’s charge.
But the heavier, hurtful shots came from Lara in the sixth and Warrington had to withstand a thudding right hand in the seventh.
The Brit was forced to back off in the eighth, having again felt the force of the man nicknamed ‘Bronco’, and the fight came to a brutal finish in the ninth.
Lara uncorked a huge left hook to send Warrington toppling to the canvas and referee Howard Foster waved it off to send shockwaves through the division.