Josh Warrington’s rematch with Mauricio Lara ends in a draw after eye injury

Josh Warrington’s big Headingley comeback fell flat as his fight against Mauricio Lara was declared a technical draw after two rounds.

Warrington opened an injury around Lara’s left eye via an accidental head-butt, and the Mexican was deemed unfit to continue by the ringside doctor.

The news was greeted with groans by the 20,000-capacity crowd at the home of Leeds Rhinos who had turned up in the hope that Warrington would gain revenge for his knockout defeat by the same fighter in May.

The rules stipulate that with less than four rounds completed, the officials have no option but to declare a draw rather than go to the scorecards.

It proved an enormous anti-climax for Warrington, who had headed into the rematch in the knowledge that another defeat would effectively scupper his hopes of some day shining on the other side of the Atlantic, if not end his career itself.

But for all his insistence he would not make the mistake of overlooking Lara a second time, his pre-fight media commitments were still peppered with Stateside ambitions and dismissals of his domestic featherweight rivals.

Whilst it was admirable of Warrington to agree to step straight back in against an opponent who vanquished him so comprehensively seven months ago, it was also an engagement borne of necessity in the context of those future plans.

Boxing – Emerald Headingley Stadium
Josh Warrington’s fight was called a draw after two rounds (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Warrington’s previous reversal to Lara was no lucky punch, but a loss that required plenty of soul-searching and a completely revised game-plan prior to his high-profile reappearance in front of his adoring home city fans.

Having surrendered his unbeaten record behind closed doors at promoter Eddie Hearn’s Fight Camp, Warrington’s hope to glean extra motivation from his thousands of raucous supporters also heaped additional pressure on such a crucial career assignment.

Warrington started well, landing much the cleaner work in the opener, although his best shots had no discernible effect on his opponent, and suggested a worrying willingness to trade.

Lara was already complaining about Warrington’s use of the head prior to a pivotal moment midway through the second, when a clash left Lara reeling with blood around his left eye and requiring extra time to recover in his corner.

The Leeds man was warned about his use of the head in an equally action-packed second, which ended with the ringside doctor taking a long look and instructing the official to call the contest off.