Josh Warrington will face Mexico’s Mauricio Lara in a must-win fight on his long-awaited return to the ring on Saturday February 13, live on Sky Sports in the UK and on DAZN in the U.S. and more than 200 countries and territories.
Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs), who is recognised as the No.1 Featherweight on the planet by The Ring Magazine, created history by becoming Leeds’ first ever male World Champion when he upset the odds to wrestle the IBF 126lbs crown from Lee Selby at Elland Road, the home of his beloved Leeds United, on a memorable night in May 2018.
Despite producing a career best performance against Selby, Warrington was again written off by many ahead of his first defence against Irish fight legend and two-weight World Champion Carl Frampton at Manchester Arena in December 2019.
Warrington retained his IBF Title in an epic Fight of the Year contender with ‘The Jackal’ that captivated the crowd from the opening bell with a blistering pace set by the Yorkshire hero as he earned a unanimous victory.
A close fought battle with IBF Mandatory Challenger Kid Galahad followed at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, with Warrington edging out his Sheffield rival via a split decision, ‘The Leeds Warrior’ then went on to defend his title with an emphatic second-round demolition job over Sofiane Takoucht in October 2019.
Lara (21-2, 14 KOs) is ranked at No.10 in the world with the IBF and is currently enjoying a ten-fight winning streak that stretches back to May 2018 when he suffered only his second career loss at the hands of Eliot Chavez. Hailing from Mexico City, ‘Bronco’ will be aiming to claim the biggest scalp in the 126lbs division.
“I’m more than ready to go,” said Warrington. “It has been well over 12 months out of the ring for me so I’m itching to get back. It has been a frustrating period for all of us. I’m excited to have a date and I can’t wait to get in the ring. The Xu Can fight is there and waiting. Does he want it? He’s already answered that question – no. Lara is getting beat and I’m moving forward. It’s as simple as that. I want to be as aggressive as possible and win the fight in an entertaining style.”
Manchester Super-Featherweight contender Zelfa Barrett (24-1, 15 KOs) defends his IBF Intercontinental Title against Spain’s former Super-Bantamweight World Champion Kiko Martinez (41-9-2, 29 KOs) in the chief support bout, Nottingham’s Leigh Wood (23-2, 13 KOs) clashes with unbeaten Doncaster man Reece Mould (13-0, 6 KOs) for the vacant British Featherweight Title, fast-rising Sheffield Super-Lightweight talent Dalton Smith (6-0, 5 KOs) takes on Rotherham’s Lee Appleyard (16-5-1, 5 KOs), Leeds Featherweight Hopey Price (3-0, 1 KO) looks to build on his win over Jonny Phillips at Fight Camp last summer and Watford’s Shannon Courtenay (6-1, 3 KOs) sees action ahead of her World Title shot on April 10.
Warrington – Lara and Avanesyan – Kelly live on Dazn and Sky
Matchroom Boxing will return to The SSE Arena, Wembley for Josh Warrington vs. Mauricio Lara on Saturday February 13 and David Avanesyan vs. Josh Kelly on Saturday February 20, with both events shown live on Sky Sports in the UK and on DAZN in the U.S. and more than 200 countries and territories.
Matchroom’s first two events of 2021 kick off a stacked schedule that also features the highly anticipated Heavyweight rematch between Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte on Saturday March 6, Lawrence Okolie’s shot at the WBO Cruiserweight crown against Krzysztof Glowacki on Saturday March 20 and rising Welterweight star Conor Benn vs. Samuel Vargas on Saturday April 10.
This follows on from Matchroom’s hugely successful residency at The SSE Arena, Wembley in October, November and December last year that that saw pound-for-pound star Oleksander Usyk outpoint Derek Chisora, Undisputed Lightweight ruler Katie Taylor retain her belts against Miriam Gutierrez, Conor Benn turn in a career-best performance against Sebastian Formella, Billy Joe Saunders defend his WBO Super-Middleweight crown against Martin Murray and culminated in Heavyweight World Champion Anthony Joshua brutally knocking out Kubrat Pulev in front of 1,000 fans.
Matchroom’s 2021 schedule launches with a bang on February 13 as Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs) faces Mexico’s Mauricio Lara (21-2, 14 KOs) while he waits for a huge fight later in the year, Manchester Super-Featherweight contender Zelfa Barrett (24-1, 15 KOs) defends his IBF Intercontinental Title against Spain’s former Super-Bantamweight World Champion Kiko Martinez (41-9-2, 29 KOs) in the chief support bout, Nottingham’s Leigh Wood (23-2, 13 KOs) clashes with unbeaten Doncaster man Reece Mould (13-0, 6 KOs) for the vacant British Featherweight Title, fast-rising Sheffield Super-Lightweight talent Dalton Smith (6-0, 5 KOs) sees action, Leeds Featherweight Hopey Price (3-0, 1 KO) meets Zahid Hussain (16-1, 2 KOs) and Keighley Featherweight Ibrahim Nadim (2-0) steps up against Jonny Phillips (5-5, 2 KOs).
Russia’s European Welterweight Champion Avanesyan (26-3-1, 14 KOs) makes his long-awaited Title defence against Kelly (10-0-1, 6 KOs) at the top of the bill on February 20, Liverpool Super-Welterweight Anthony Fowler (13-1, 10 KOs) returns against Spain’s Jorge Fortea (21-2-1, 7 KOs), undefeated Welterweights Florian Marku (7-0-1, 5 KOs) and Rylan Charlton (6-0-1, 3 KOs) meet in what promises to be an explosive ten-round battle, Amy Timlin (4-0-1) and Carly Skelly (3-0-1) rematch for the vacant Commonwealth Super-Bantamweight Title after their split draw on the Oleksandr Usyk vs. Derek Chisora undercard last October and explosive Romford Heavyweight Johnny Fisher makes his highly anticipated professional debut.
John Drury, VP and General Manager at The SSE Arena, Wembley, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Matchroom Boxing back to The SSE Arena, Wembley for our first events of 2021. We’re looking forward to another huge residency, with ASM Global’s VenueShield protocols keeping everyone at our venue safe and comfortable in a welcoming and Covid-secure environment.”