Not much was expected of Mauricio Lara (23-2, 16 KOs) when he stepped into the ring with former IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington (30-1, 6 KOs) earlier this year. Lara had only fought outside of Mexico once and was supposed to be a routine tune up fight for Warrington while he was trying to set up big fights for the Ring Magazine belt against the likes of Xu Can and Gary Russell Jr. Instead Lara gave as good as he got from the start, sent Warrington down hard in the fourth and knocked him out in the ninth in one of the upsets of the year.
Warrington is an excellent pressure fighter but he cannot punch, which makes Lara a very tough matchup for him. Lara is durable and powerful enough to be perfectly happy to trade on the inside and land a hard, impactful punch at the end of each Warrington combination. Warrington had some success in the first fight’s middle rounds when he was a bit less agressive and let Lara come to him but he was already too damaged at this point to be able to turn the fight around. The “easy from your couch” gameplan would be to just fight Lara on the outside but Warrington turning into a boxer at 30 years old is a bit unrealistic.
Even if I don’t see a way to make it easy on himself, this is a fight Warrington can win. His main problem in the first fight was getting caught at the end of exchanges he was initiating. If he is a bit more cautious and leaves the initiative to Lara, he could capitalize on Lara’s wide punches and counter him on the inside. Anyway, winning an inside fight when at a power disadvantage is a tough ask and he will have to dig deep. But if he can avoid getting hurt by the left hook, he could outvolume Lara and grind a decision.
Whether Lara pulls it off again or Warrington gets his revenge, this should be an exciting action fight which will whether put the Brit back on track or establish Lara as a real contender at featherweight.
In the co-main event, unified lightweight champion Katie Taylor (18-0, 6 KOs) defends her belts against former IBF featherweight champion Jennifer Han (18-3, 1 KO). Taylor is one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world but she had some close fights recently with Natasha Jonas and especially Delfine Persoon whom she beat twice in very entertaining fights that ended in very debated decisions.
Han won the IBF featherweight belt in 2015 and defended it 4 times until she took time off from the sport in 2018 to become a mother. She came back as a lightweight in 2020 and looked very sharp against journeywoman Jeri Sitzes. She is a clean, pleasant to watch outside fighter with a very good jab and eye for openings. Her fight with Taylor should be interesting technically but what troubled Taylor in the Persoon and Jonas fights was bigger opponents not leaving her space. That’s not something Han has in her bag. Taylor is bigger, three years younger (despite being 35 herself) and should be able to impose herself physically. Han should make it a decent fight but hopefully a win here sets Taylor up for a superfight against Amanda Serrano.
On the undercard, Conor Benn (18-0, 12 KOs) faces veteran Adrian Granados (21-8-3, 15 KOs). Benn’s career has definitely benefited from the fact that his father is Nigel Benn but he is a fun action fighter with decent power. At 24 he’s taken a bit of a step up in competition lately starting to fight European level fighters. Granados is a well traveled fighter who has been in the ring with Danny Garcia, Robert Easter Jr, Shawn Porter and Adrien Broner and has only been stopped once. Benn should get past him but whether he can stop him or not will be a test of his punching power and potential.
Prospect Hopey Price (5-0, 1 KO) is also on the card in his first 10 rounder against Zahid Hussain (16-1, 2 KOs). Price is a really interesting prospect. He is a slick southpaw with an excellent counter left hand and very solid defense so far in his career. Hussain has a typical nice looking record until you actually look at who he fought. It’s early in Price’s career but the 21 year old could be one to really keep an eye on at super bantamweight.
Lara vs Warrington II airs on DAZN at 2:00pm ET / 11:00am PT on Saturday September 4th.
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