Josh Warrington has had his fill of Mexican guests.
Luis Alberto Lopez withstood a bad cut and a late rally to defeat Warrington by a majority decision and take the Englishman’s featherweight title in a rough fight Saturday night in Leeds, Warrington’s hometown.
Warrington lost the same title in the first of two reigns to Mexican Mauricio Lara in February of last year in London. He regained it by stopping Spanish veteran Kiko Martinez in seven rounds this past March.
Lopez was fighting for a major title for the first time.
“As I said in the buildup, this is my moment,” he said. “It comes from hard work over a long boxing career. So I’m delighted to be world champion.”
Lopez suffered a cut above his left eye from what was ruled an accidental head butt, which the Mexicali resident implied afterward was intentional. He called Warrington a “dirty fighter.”
However, the cut didn’t slow Lopez down, as he pressured Warrington for the first nine, 10 rounds, outworked him and landed many of the hardest shots.
However, Warrington, relying on fitness and sheer will, took it to the challenger in the final few rounds to turn what seemed to be a clear loss into a close fight.
That was reflected in the scoring. One judge had 114-114, a draw. The other two had Lopez winning 115-113, seven rounds to five, making him the new IBF 126-pound champ.
Warrington (31-2-1, 8 KOs) defended himself after the fight, insisting he’s a clean fighter and suggesting that Lopez did a lot of fouling himself. And he didn’t hide his disappointment.
“I’m absolutely devastated to lose my title just like that,” he said as those in arena cheered him. “I will say a big thank you for those [fans] making noise, those still making noise. Thank you guys.”
Lopez (27-2, 15 KOs) now becomes a major player in the sport. Warrington, 32, said we haven’t seen the last of him.