The training is done, the endless interviews are finished and the final couple of pounds and ounces have been shed. Josh Warrington is ready for the fight of his life.
On Saturday night, the 32Red ambassador will walk out into a packed Headingley Stadium to face Mauricio Lara, the man who dropped and stopped him back in February. The man who took the Leeds’ man’s unbeaten record and wrecked his plans in the process. For all the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
There are no world titles on the line, but the stakes have never been higher. Warrington’s army of loyal fans recognise the scale of the task he faces. Tickets for the fight flew out and Lara can expect to walk into a bear pit atmosphere. The fans can’t fight for him, it is going to take a performance of courage, focus and skill if Warrington is going to right the wrong and climb back to the top of the featherweight division.
In this exclusive diary, Warrington remembers the events of that shocking night in February and tells fans what to expect this weekend.
“It’s funny how life works. I don’t wanna bore people with what could have been but at the start of the year when I re-signed with Eddie Hearn and had the big press conference at Headingley, the fight was meant to be Warrington v Xu Can in May or early June for the IBF, WBA and Ring magazine belts. For a long time until the pandemic kicked off I visualised pulling up to the stadium, making my way in and being sat in the changing rooms.
“I imagined saying to Eddie, “If you’re with us, you’re with us. Walk with us to the ring.” I visualised walking out to a packed Headingley stadium and walking away with the Ring magazine belt over my shoulder and a few more to put in my collection. The pandemic happens, we fight behind closed doors all of a sudden the rematch with Lara comes about and it’s at Headingley.
“The thoughts are coming back. I’m pulling up at the stadium, Eddie’s in the changing rooms with us but this time I’m walking out to fight Lara.
“As I’ve said before, the last camp wasn’t a bad one. I was fit and strong. If anything it went on a little bit too long and I was overcooked a little bit and I was on the better side of well done rather than medium rare. That was just down to dates changing. It wasn’t down to what I didn’t do in the gym, it was that I wasn’t switched on upstairs.
“I had positivity throughout the fight. In the first four I had a decent start but I started to think ‘I’m getting caught more than I should be doing here.” When I got put down and survived round five and got through rounds six and seven, it was a case of thinking, ‘Right. I lost that round but I will get to him.’
For a lot of stages for the rest of the fight I was in a bit of a bad way. The rounds were going by pretty quickly and I wasn’t doing much work in them but I thought ‘Get to the championship rounds and I’ll really put my foot on the gas and break him down.’ I could see he was tired and I could see that I could outbox him to a certain extent. It’s just that all my other tools had gone completely. It’s that never say die attitude. You don’t give up until the curtain comes down.
“This time around I’m completely switched on. I know it wont be a walk in the park or a step over. I have to be giving Mauricio Lara my full attention.
“I’ve fought once at Elland Road and now, for the first time, we’re at Headingley stadium, home of the Leeds Rhinos. I’ve given Leeds some quality nights and I’ve had the fans behind me all the way, cheering and chanting and getting me over the line but this time around I need them more than ever before. I need the support, the noise and the passion because when we’re as one, we become an army.
“On September 4th, we redeem ourselves. We make that wrong a right, we get back to where we were and get back to the quest of winning world titles.”