Josh Warrington’s world title gamble backfired spectacularly as he was knocked out by unknown Mauricio Lara.
The Leeds man was expected to cruise to victory before launching an assault on the featherweight world champions.
But instead he was beaten for the first time as Lara dropped him first in the fourth and the in the ninth to clinch one of the biggest shocks in British boxing history.
“Our confidence was because we believed,” Lara said. “I didn’t want to tire myself out because I know he’s No.1 in the world.
“There’s a tinge of sadness because I haven’t got the belt but maybe that will come.”
Warrington had opted to give up his featherweight belt when the IBF refused to sanction a fight with Lara.
Instead the Leeds man was ordered to face his mandatory challenger Kid Galahad for a second time having outpointed him in 2019.
Warrington opted instead to bin his title and face Lara in London with a view to taking on WBA champion Can Zu in April.
He then planned to add to further belts to his collection this year – and finally secure a huge fight in Las Vegas.
But the fans’ favourite looked on shaky legs from the first round as the visiting Mexican threatened an upset.
Warrington was floored in the fourth round but was given ample time to recover by referee Howard Foster.
He recovered enough to hear the bell but was never able to settle.
And when Lara floored him for a second time, Foster had no choice but to wave the fight off.
Warrington required treatment but was eventually able to leave the ring unaided before going to hospital to be checked out.
His promoter Eddie Hearn said: This is why it’s the best sport in the world. No-one gave Lara a chance but we knew he could fight. We didn’t think he’d beat the No.1 featherweight but he did.
“I’ve haven’t seen bravery in the ring like I saw from Warrington in a long, long time.
“Warrington was erratic and the ring-rust showed; he got caught and never recovered.
“It’s a crushing blow, we have to go back to the drawing board. There are no excuses, he was beaten by a hungry Mexican who has changed his life.”