Mauricio Lara was merely thought of as a tune-up opponent when he was recruited to fight Josh Warrington in 2021.
The Brit, who had vacated his IBF featherweight world title in search of a big clash with Can Xu, agreed to take a lesser bout when his planned meeting with the Chinese fighter hit a hurdle.
Lara was just 22 at the time and already had two losses on his record, however he ended up providing worst night of Warrington’s career.
The home star started poorly from round one and found himself being caught flush by an inspired Lara.
Despite being slow-handed, the Mexican was troubling the Brit with his timing throughout the early stages.
And in round four, he made a stunning breakthrough.
A combination from Lara staggered Warrington and a giant left hook sent him crashing to the canvas.
The Leeds man just about rose to his feet and was allowed to continue by referee Howard Foster, despite looking near-certain to be finished imminently.
WARRINGTON KNOCKED OUT! 😲😲😲
Josh Warrington was sensationally stopped in the ninth round ⚡ pic.twitter.com/eTRrkUirk0
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) February 13, 2021
Warrington made it to the bell by the skin of his teeth as he remarkably survived the round.
Even at the start of the fifth he looked unsteady, but Lara’s inexperience showed as he failed to capitalise and Warrington edged closer to regaining composure.
Rounds six and seven were nip and tuck, then the Mexican appeared to again hurt the Brit in the eighth.
This time Lara did capitalise and his victorious moment came in round nine.
The youngster staggered Warrington once more and a gigantic left hook flattened him.
This time referee Foster stopped the fight, not allowing the Brit to get back to his feet.
The pair met in a rematch seven months later, only for an early clash of heads to result in an unsatisfactory outcome – a technical draw.
In 2022, Lara bided his time waiting for his next opportunity and this will now come as he takes on Leigh Wood for the WBA featherweight world title on Saturday night.
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