Luis Alberto Lopez inflicted only the second defeat of Josh Warrington’s career with a superb display to reclaim the IBF featherweight title in Leeds.
The challenger recovered from an initial cut to his left eye to shock the home favorite after two of the judges scored the fight in favor of the Mexican, with the other deeming the contest a draw.
It ends Warrington’s hopes of a unification fight in 2023 and further spoiled the party after the main event was delayed by their World Cup quarter-final defeat to France.
Despite an electric catwalk and atmosphere, it was Lopez who made the stronger start and was able to draw Warrington’s nosebleed going into the opening round.
Lopez needed treatment in round two after an accidental clash of heads left the Mexican with a cut to his left eye.
Parallels could be drawn with Warrington’s second clash with Mauricio Lara last year, which was canceled early for a technical draw due to similar circumstances.
Lopez continued, however, and appeared unfazed with his more accurate shots causing all sorts of problems for the home favourite.
Warrington started to find his range in the middle part of the fight and produced a big left hook in round six.
Challenger Lopez was still smiling and chatting as he handed out regular punches to the British boxer’s body.
The pace picked up in the latter stages with the two exchanging blows but despite a brilliant final round by Warrington, the Mexican stayed put to ensure the judges decided on the winner.
While one of the scorecards went with a 114-114 tie, the other two were 115-113 in favor of Lopez to give the 29-year-old the biggest win of his career.
Warrington told DAZN: “I am absolutely devastated to have lost my title like that but I want to say a big thank you to all of these for making some noise so thank you.
“I had aspirations to do other things. Of course I wanted to go to the United States (US) and I still want to. Maybe the unification is a step too far, but I think I can still fight against one of the other champions. Of course I would also get a rematch because I thought I was being a little tough at that point.
Lopez added: “I’m really happy right now. It has been a long period of preparation. As I said in the prep, this is my moment, it comes from hard work. I am happy to be world champion.
“To be honest, I had to respect him when he entered his city, in front of his people. I knew he was a dirty fighter but he surprised me even more, he was hitting me in the legs, in the stomach and the referee I didn’t feel was doing his job.