How Josh Warrington climbed back off the canvas

Josh Warrington was stunned by Mauricio Lara back in February

It was not unusual in the weeks and months that followed his numbing defeat to Mauricio Lara to find Josh Warrington sitting in the carpark of his local supermarket while his wife Natasha did the weekly shop.

So extensive was the shame felt by the British boxing’s No 1 hometown hero in the wake of that loss that he could no longer face the idea of being spotted in public by the many fans that would normally cross his path.

“There were times when we were going out to the supermarket and I would say to the missus, ‘I’ll just wait in the car, I’ll wait in the car, I can’t come in, I can’t do it’,” Warrington says.

“I didn’t want to put people in the awkward position of when you go past someone in the bread aisle and they’re like, ‘Josh are you alright mate, what happened?’. I didn’t want to put people in that position.”

Of course neither he nor his fans will ever forget what happened that night, behind closed doors at the Wembley bubble in February when Warrington’s unknown Mexican visitor dropped and stopped him inside nine brutal rounds. It was one of the biggest shocks inside a British ring for years and it was the prelude to much soul-searching for the battered and bruised loser.


In the end it was another of Brit who was relieved of his world title in shocking fashion that helped him through the worst of it.

“For the first six or seven weeks, I was dealing with injuries and that covered up all the thoughts of losing,” he adds. “I had a fractured jaw, I had to have an operation on my elbow, I had a damaged shoulder, my ear was perforated.

“I didn’t really leave the house because I was kind of embarrassed and I didn’t want to bump into folk. For six weeks, I was recovering. Then when I went to the Joseph Parker-Dereck Chisora fight [on 1 May], that’s when it hit home because that should have been my night, that should have been my re-organised fight with Can Xu.

“I was driving back from Manchester that night on the M62 and I broke down after that, it was probably the lowest I’ve ever been. For about two weeks, I just had my head in my arse, just moping around the house, I couldn’t be bothered about anything. The garden was piled up with dog poo and I couldn’t be bothered going out and dealing with that.

“But when I had a chat with Anthony Joshua about three weeks after it, he said something similar. He said I would get to a stage where I would just want to get back on the horse or f*** the game off completely.

“After that week or so of moping about the house, I thought of that. I thought I can do something about this. I thought to myself am I just going to throw my toys out of the pram and keep sulking? No, I can do something about this. I just had a good word with myself.”

Josh Warrington was stunned by Mauricio Lara back in February

The story goes that Warrington and Chinese featherweight Xu were set to clash and that Lara would provide a reasonably straightforward ‘keep-busy’ fight for the Leeds Warrior who had not boxed for 16 months. It all came crashing down and Warrington now readily admits he had overlooked Lara entirely.

“I have reevaluated things,” he says. “I never thought I would take anyone lightly and I never will again but, as a person, I don’t think it has changed me,

“Maybe I have more respect for the opponents I have beaten in the past now? But, apart from maybe losing a few more marbles upstairs I haven’t changed.

“Time’s a healer. If you’ve got a worldie of a girl and she leaves you, you’re devastated and you think your world has come crashing down. But eventually, you go out and find another girl and she’s the love of your life.”

Now seven months on, Warrington has decided to eschew the idea of a tune-up fight and go straight back in with Lara and will do so this weekend at Headingley in a true make-or-break encounter.

The former IBF featherweight champion has had their initial fight on repeat ever since and admits he cringes every time he watches it back.

“When you evaluate after and you watch it back, my toes were curling and thinking ‘what were you doing, Josh? Why were you behaving like that?’,” Warrington says.

“Breaking it down it was silly stuff – throwing far too many punches just stood straight in front of him, and it’s like ‘Come on man that is amateur stuff!’. I was trying to fight fire with fire. I didn’t start boxing until I got knocked down and then in the fifth round when I was making it easy for myself.

“But by that time I had damaged my shoulder when I went down, my jaw was hanging off, my ear was busted, I was half concussed and it was probably too late then.

“I’ve changed my approach now; the way I’ve visualised it and gone through it. Whereas before it was just a given, I was half-thinking about the other fights after Lara… I never really pictured him being an aggressive fighter.


“Now when I think of Lara, when I picture him in my mind, instantly what I see is him coming forward, he’s got a little welt under his eye, he’s got a little cut here. But he’s blowing, he’s tired and he’s knackered. He’s trying… but I can see myself now just boxing his head off, making it very easy and showing levels.

“I’ve got respect for the guy because he’s taken the challenge bur when the first bell goes, the respect will go out the window.”

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