Josh Warrington v Mauricio Lara: Former world featherweight champion says he ‘has to win’ rematch

Warrington v Lara 2 and Taylor v Han
Venue: Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds Date: Saturday, 4 September Start: 19:00 BST, Warrington v Lara about 22:00
Live coverage: Full commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live from 21:30 BST

British featherweight Josh Warrington says he “has to win” Saturday’s rematch with Mexico’s Mauricio Lara.

Warrington, 30, vacated his IBF world title shortly before Lara, 23, inflicted his first professional loss at Wembley Arena in February.

The pair meet again in Warrington’s home city of Leeds and had to be separated at Friday’s weigh-in.

“I’m fired up for it,” said Warrington. “There’s a fear factor now. I think I was missing that last time.”

The undercard sees Ireland’s undisputed lightweight world champion Katie Taylor take on Jennifer Han in her “second home” of Leeds, with more than 20,000 fans expected at Headingley.

Warrington’s first fight with Lara took place behind closed doors after 16 months of inactivity for the Yorkshireman.

For six months, Warrington was training for a unification fight with China’s Xu Can, but the former WBA world champion pulled out five weeks before.

A week later Warrington vacated his IBF title and announced he was facing Lara, with promoter Eddie Hearn planning fights in the USA further down the line for Warrington, who went in as a 1-25 betting favourite with a 30-0 record.

“The first time [I didn’t have a fear factor] was when I boxed in Berlin [against Edwin Tellez in 2015],” Warrington told Steve Bunce on the 5 Live Boxing podcast. “It was a bit of a tick-over fight and I went in there over-relaxed.

“The second time was last time [against Lara]. It was a rollercoaster of things. I was thinking about other fights – ‘let’s just get this out of the way, it’ll be nice to brush the dust off and get back in to camp for a bigger fight’. And I paid the price for that.”

‘If I get chinned, all my plans go out of the window’

After 30 professional wins, Josh Warrington (right) suffered the first loss of his career to Mauricio Lara in February

The undercard also sees unbeaten British welterweight Conor Benn return to action after knocking out Samuel Vargas in 80 seconds in April.

Benn faces American Adrian Granados before Lara, who has a 23-2 record, plans to show Warrington “we are definitely not on the same level”.

The Mexican said this week that Warrington “did not give me credit” for his ninth-round stoppage win in February and vowed “there is going to be a repeat”, but Warrington added: “I have to win, simply as that.

“Revenge would be lovely, but I’m talking about world titles, Ring magazine belts, going to America, taking the crazy Leeds lot with us and having some memorable nights.

“If I get chinned, all of that goes out of the window – or it’s a long time coming back, and my missus doesn’t want me boxing forever.

“I’ve had pressure moments before, but since I’ve come through those I’ve lost that pressure. It seems to have come back but I’m handling it well. This time round there’s a fire in my stomach, I know I’m in for a fight and I know what needs to be done.”

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