IT WAS a bizarre night in Wembley when Josh Warrington was stopped in nine rounds by rank outsider Mauricio Lara, but it has to be said; the coverage was excellent.
The Sky Sports Boxing team often come under fine from fans for their broadcasts, but on Saturday they seemed spot on at almost every turn.
First and foremost, the main event. Adam Smith and Matthew Macklin on commentary were quick to pick up on Warrington’s stiffness early on in the bout and rightly raised the point that Josh hadn’t fought in well over a year and was not used to fighting in an empty arena.
After the tumultuous fourth round they also noted how referee Howard Foster – or Warrington’s corner – could have easily stopped the fight there and then. They also didn’t fail to recognise the successful work of Lara, who was bludgeoning Warrington with both hands. Such was the drama that during the sixth, Smith asked Macklin how he was scoring the bout, but didn’t get the sort of response he expected.
“I haven’t been,” Macklin said with a chuckle. Who could blame him? Here was an enormous underdog demolishing one of the best featherweights in the world.
After the conclusive finish in the ninth and once Warrington had risen to his feet under his own steam, Smith and Macklin reflected on what happened. Smith speculated there might have been weight issues for Warrington, while Macklin – likely closer to the truth – wondered if the problem was a mental one, a combination of a lack of motivation for this opponent and struggling without a roaring Leeds crowd.
On punditry, Johnny Nelson and Adam Booth both made it clear they felt the fight should have been stopped in the fourth, with Nelson even going so far as to say if it were Lara who had been dropped and hurt, Foster would have stepped in and ended it.
They were making hugely valid points and respect should be given for them airing their disagreement with the officials.
The pair did the same after the chief support, in which Zelfa Barret earned a questionable unanimous decision over Kiko Martinez. Booth made the point that he felt the right man won, but not by as much as the three judges scored it.
Promoter Eddie Hearn, to his credit, did not hold back when interviewed after the fight, labelling the two 118-111 cards as “disgusting.”
He said: “How are we going to bring foreign fighters to this country when they get absolutely zero credit for their performance? 118-111? He might as well not have bothered.”
He’s completely right. There was one, maybe two rounds in the fight and Martinez had a fair argument that he deserved to win. This isn’t just a case of fans taking to social media to berate the scoring of a fight; this is powerful and knowledgeable figures in boxing – and one, in Hearn, who in this instance actually benefits from the result given that he promotes Barrett – directly calling out the injustice.
In recent years, British boxing has had numerous accusations of home cooking levelled at it and judging like this will only add fuel to that fire. Attracting talent from overseas is essential for the sport, but the more they see scoring like this, the less chance there is of them making the trip. Like Hearn said, they might as well not bother. Something has to change.
The Daily Star – via Chris McKenna – reportedly gained insight into the extent of Warrington’s injuries after the fight. Thankfully, his brain scans were clear and he was able to return home. The report also claims Warrington suffered a fractured jaw, perforated eardrum and some form of shoulder injury.
If true, those facts only further highlight how much courage Warrington showed in battling until the end of the fight. The perforated eardrum in particular would also go some way to explaining why Warrington’s balance was so off after the fourth round.
The rather sad public spat between Deontay Wilder and his former trainer Mark Breland intensified this week as Breland doubled down on comments he’d made about his time with Wilder, and the former heavyweight champ responded (see YouTube below).
Breland released an extended statement, stating: “I haven’t spoke [sic] to Deontay alone in years. The things that I told Deontay to do had to be ran past Jay [Deas, Wilder’s head trainer].
“Deontay had become untrainable because he was at the point of, ‘he knows more about boxing than all of us.’”
It’s unfortunate that this is being dragged out so much now, and the more energy Wilder spends on this dispute, the less focus he’ll have on his eventual return to action. Breland has every right to give his side of the story after being unceremoniously fired.
“It’s like, where is it all coming from? Is it because of where I am in life and your career was short?… It’s all making sense now. He’s been envying me, he’s been jealous. Now all this s*** is truly coming out,” Wilder said to 78SPORTSTV.
“Oh, you wanna break your silence to the UK media, ‘Somebody else poured the water.’ Nah, you did that s***. This is the end of my career? Man, this is only the beginning of greatness. But for you, it is the end.”
In the same interview, Wilder referred to himself as a “king” and that people are expecting him to “lead” them, which probably gives you a good indication of where his head is currently at.
Hearn confirmed to IFL that Matchroom’s Fight Camp will return this summer, perhaps in a larger outdoor venue and with fights like Joseph Parker vs Dereck Chisora and Joshua Buatsi vs Callum Johnson as potential fights to be held there. That’s exciting news, especially when considered alongside the developing schedule Frank Warren is building for later this year.