Lara vs Warrington 2: A Night of Redemption, Or The Final Nail
The 20,000 strong Leeds faithful will leave Headingley late on Saturday night in full voice, or leave the old rugby ground in a morbid eerie silence.
It won’t be a night for the faint-hearted. Make no mistake, a Josh Warrington victory is by no means a foregone conclusion. The behind closed doors loss to the Mexican Mauricio Lara earlier this year halted all the big plans Warrington had. The money fights went up in smoke, temporarily maybe, but a repeat in his hometown will see his career dead in the water.
Lara came over with little fanfare and was expected to lose, and lose well. Warrington may well have underestimated Lara in London, and the lack of his usual vocal support could have taken something away from him. But in Leeds, Warrington has no excuses should he succumb a second time. Warrington is fighting for his boxing life. It’s that simple. The former IBF featherweight champion doesn’t have to make a statement, he simply has to win.
Katie Taylor, the throwback fighter from another time, makes her latest defence of the undisputed lightweight titles against the American Jennifer Han. Taylor will fight anyone, a refreshing change from a sport that often drowns itself in avoidance and fake excuses. Taylor is the best female boxer on the planet for a reason.
There are big fights ahead for Taylor, and while Han comes with decent enough credentials, she is likely to go home empty-handed, and Taylor will then move on to bigger things. Talk of Amanda Serrano, Natasha Jonas, Cris Cyborg and others will not be far away, but Chantelle Cameron should be in the discussion. A big fight, an easy fight to make, why it never gets mentioned by those that can make it happen is another of boxing’s great mysteries. Chantelle deserves a call sooner rather than later
Conor Benn finally gets to fight Adrian Granados after missing out at Fight Camp a few weeks ago. But despite the frustration of seeing a fight fall through days before it was due to happen, the Covid delay may actually benefit him. With the bigger stage, a big stadium show and with a performance to match the occasion could launch Benn to a completely new level. Benn seeks the big names to enhance his reputation further, the plans ahead have substantial size, Saturday night you sense is just the beginning.
If any fighter wants to get their name out to the masses, learning from Ebanie Bridges would be a good start. A plan so simple, but brilliant at the same time, she saw a way, found the gap in the market, and literally blasted her way through the door to relevance.
In many ways, Saturday night is her homecoming, the first time we get to see the full show. The public weigh-in on Friday will see the Australian put on a performance. But in the ring on Saturday night will be where Bridges will be at her happiest. She is a born fighter, a fact that people miss or choose to ignore for their own narrative. If you know the backstory, you know Bridges.
Bridges is on a mission, having a place at the table was never going to satisfy. At 34, Bridges knows she hasn’t got time to waste. She is still learning, the fight with Bec Connolly showed she is heading in the right direction. Bridges did a job on Connolly that few expected, some tried to find excuses for Connolly losing in that manner. That is the biggest compliment they could pay to Bridges. There were no excuses, it was clinical and impressive.
The fight with Shannon Courtenay was a full-on war, Courtenay edged it, but this observer sees Bridges as the fighter who will improve more if they do meet again. That particular rivalry has more to give us, definitely a case of to be continued.
Mailys Gangloff is next, a French champion who won’t be coming just for the money. Ellie Scotney couldn’t stop her, Bridges promises to do what Scotney couldn’t, if she does, Bridges will convince a few more. Despite the talent elsewhere on the card, this might just steal the snow.
Saturday night will get be the first real glimpse of what we can look forward to with the Matchroom/DAZN partnership. Eddie Hearn will be like a kid in a sweetshop playing with the DAZN pot of gold. The potential in unlimited.
There will be fights he just couldn’t have made within the restraints of the Sky budget. But equally, there will be no excuses now, with the greater dollar comes the greater pressure to deliver on the game-changing mantra. More of the same will not be tolerated.
Leeds promises to be a special night, and we have the perfect setting for a night of potential high drama. It could be a night of redemption or the final nail at the top of the card. But there will be many stories to tell elsewhere on a night that can’t fail to deliver.