While much of the focus of the Boxing world on Saturday, December 10th was split between two of the sport’s biggest stars Terence Crawford and Teofimo Lopez headlining competing Boxing events, earlier in the day (in U.S. Time) saw the return of another star in the sport that deserves equal mention along with Crawford and Lopez as a headline attraction. This observer is referring to two-time Featherweight world champion Josh Warrington. Warrington returned to the ring for the first time since regaining the IBF Featherweight world championship by stopping Kiko Martinez in March of this year to begin his second reign as champion in a title defense against IBF number one Featherweight contender Luis Lopez. A defense that took place in the champion’s hometown of Leeds, England at the First Direct Arena. Taking place in the immediate aftermath of England’s loss in the quarter finals to France in the FIFA World Cup, Lopez showed no negative effects from the atmosphere of fighting the champion where theoretically the advantage appeared to be in his favor.
Despite suffering a cut over his left eye as a result of an accidental clash of heads in the second round, what stood out from very early on was Lopez' ability to be elusive, but at the same time land combinations of hard punches on the champion. Although the bout was at times ugly to watch due to the grappling between the two fighters when in close, it was Lopez' ability to out work Warrington and more specifically how he was able to mix things up by executing his offense from varying angles that seemed to carry the majority of the first seven rounds, in my view.
With the appearance starting to emerge that Warrington was being out boxed in this fight, I did wonder if he would be able to make a tactical adjustment that would change the tempo of the combat in his favor. While you can never discount the possibility of a fighter being able to narrow the gap in terms of scoring by scoring knockdowns in rounds in the middle and late stages of a fight, or the ultimate come from behind scenario of scoring a knockout, something seemed a bit off for Warrington in this fight. Whether it was because of facing a fighter with a difficult style in Lopez or perhaps something unknown like an injury for example, Warrington seemed a step or two behind in this bout and seemed to have trouble finding a rhythm for much of the fight.
Although the last four rounds of this fight in particular were close in my eyes, I felt Warrington got the better of most of the exchanges during those rounds, but I did not feel what amounted to a significant rally would be enough for Warrington to retain his title due largely to the success Lopez was able to have over the course of the first seven rounds of the fight. It was based on this that I arrived at a scorecard of eight rounds to four or 116-112 in points in favor of Lopez.
The view of this bout in the eyes of this observer notwithstanding, it was not a surprise to see a close majority decision rendered at the conclusion of this twelve round world championship bout. Even though some might assume that the potential of what is referred to by some as a “Hometown Decision” may have been relevant in this case given that the bout was indeed held in Warrington's hometown and thus that could create the assumption of close scores at least in the eyes of some, I believe it was more of a case of as I have often said over the years, what a judge prefers in their own criteria in how they score bases on clean punching, effective aggression, ring generalship, and defense.
Obviously, yours truly as I have also said in the past, can only speak for himself when it comes to how I view and subsequently score a fight in an unofficial capacity. It is indisputable that Josh Warrington was able to turn things in his favor in the later stages of the fight. From my perspective, he did not do enough over that period to win the fight and it really appeared to be a case where he ran out of time or to be more specific, ran out of rounds. Perhaps if this world championship bout were scheduled for fifteen rounds as was the case for world championship fights until the mid-1980’s when all world sanctioning organizations adapted the twelve round distance universally in world championship fights, Warrington may have been able to pull out a victory.
It was nevertheless a close fight on the three official scorecards with two of three official judges turning in scores of seven rounds to five in favor of Lopez making him the winner and new IBF Featherweight world champion. The obvious question at least in my eyes coming out of this fight is will there be a rematch?
One would assume that the now former champion Josh Warrington would be open to pursuing a rematch as a former champion usually does have a rematch clause in a contract prior to losing their title in the ring. While yours truly is not certain as to whether or not that is indeed the case in this circumstance for Warrington, at best a rematch should be considered an option for both the former champion as well as the new champion for sometime in 2023. Both men should take the time over the upcoming holidays to not only evaluate their respective options, but also to give them both time to heal from what was a physically grueling battle.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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