Why young Mexican Mauricio Lara poses big threat to Josh Warrington

MAURICIO LARA will be the underdog when he steps into the ring with Josh Warrington next month but the former IBF featherweight champion would be unwise to underestimate the 22-year-old.

Challenger: Mauricio Lara. Picture: Getty Images
Challenger: Mauricio Lara. Picture: Getty Images

The ‘Leeds Warrior’ is 1-20 odds on to win his first contest for over a year but Lara will be travelling from Central America keen to make a name for himself.

The bout was due to be the Mexican’s first shot at a world title fight but the IBF belt will no longer be on the line after Warrington vacated his title following the governing body’s refusal to sanction a unification clash for later this year, instead ordering a mandatory with Kid Galahad, whom Warrington defeated in June, 2019.

Despite being heavily favoured by the bookmakers, Warrington does not expect an easy ride against a fighter who made his professional debut at the age of 17.

Josh Warrington: Getting back in the ring. Picture: PA

Lara hails from the San Felipe de Jesús area of Mexico City and is regarded amongst the top boxers in Mexico.

He was beaten on his debut in 2015 fight but did not let that setback hold him back as he went on to win his next 11 contests, claiming six knockouts.

He was also defeated for just a second time in his 13th fight.

The 22-year-old already has 24 contests under his belt, winning 21 – 14 of those by knockout – losing two while the other was declared a no contest.

In his last 11 bouts, he has won by knockout six times and two of his opponents have been retired by their corner.

Despite racking up an impressive number of wins by the age of 22, Lara has still to fight for a title.

“He is a tough fighter. He has got similarities to how Can Xu fights,” said Warrington of his opponent.

“All Mexicans are tough and they love to bring a fight. I expect a tough one. We will change a few things up in terms of tactics.”

Most of Lara’s fights have taken place on home soil.

His contest with Warrington will be just the second time he has fought outside of Mexico.

Lara’s only previous clash outside of his home nation was in Argentina when he beat the previously-undefeated Eduardo Estela.

Lara has been holding his training camp in Oaxaca, a city almost 300 miles south of Mexico City.

This has been as a precaution due to Covid-19, with Lara determined not to have the pandemic put his fight with Warrington on hold.

“We want to arrive in England clean for the fight,” he told Marca Claro.

“This is a quiet area. Also, mentally it does not affect me to fight there.”

Lara has not watched much of Warrington ahead of the pair’s meeting as he has left the analysis to his coaching team.

“I don’t like to watch videos of my opponents, but what my team has told me is that he hasn’t fought with hard-hitting opponents,” he added.

“He is an opponent who throws a lot of punches. Let’s see what the outcome will be on the day of the fight. I promise to have a war inside the ring against him.

“He does not scare me or anything. We have worked hard. I am in my best moment both personally and on a sporting level.

“I have noticed that I am growing in my career. I’ve had tough opponents.”

Lara has recently become a father, with his wife Barbara giving birth to his daughter Aitana and it is something which has given him added motivation.

He continued: “It is my second international fight, in the first I went to Argentina to win by knocking out my opponent in eight rounds.

“I feel excited and motivated by the birth of my one-month-old daughter Aitana, that is the main motivation and others include my wife Barbara and my parents.”

Warrington will fight Lara behind closed doors on February 13 with the card also featuring Doncaster’s Reece Mould against Leigh Wood for the vacant British featherweight title.