By: Sean Crose
The WBA featherweight world title will be on the line Saturday in Nottingham, England when the 25-2-1 Mauricio Lara takes on 26-2 defending champion Leigh Wood in a scheduled 12 rounder at the Motorpoint Arena. Englishman Wood, whose last fight provided a knockout of the year ending when he literally knocked a ferocious Michael Conlan out of the ring last March, will clearly be the local hero walking in this weekend to face Mexico’s Lara. Still, Lara is not a man to be easily discouraged.
“It was a tough fight,” Lara said of last year’s Wood-Conlan throwdown. “We know that he’s damaged coming into this fight, but he’s coming to defend his title and that’s what I want.” Not that the man isn’t grateful for the opportunity provided him this weekend. “I’m grateful to him (Wood) for taking this fight. We know nobody wants to face me at 126lbs for a World Title but this one will happen, and we know what we are capable of doing.” Lara also made it clear that realizes he’s in with serious competition on Saturday.
“We know it’s a big fight,” he said. “We know it’s the acid test. We know Leigh Wood is a great champion but I have big aspirations and a great desire to become World Champion and as I’ve said, whatever it takes, I have to do it this time.” Lara went on to state his belief that this weekend’s fight might end early. “We know he’s a great fighter,” he said of Wood, “but it’s going to be a really tough fight for him. We know how we’re preparing, we’ve caused an upset before in his country and it will be the same on February 18. Believe me, if he switches off, the fight will be over quickly. It won’t go beyond the fifth.”
Promoter Matchroom Boxing writes that Lara “has waited patiently for his first World Title shot following his brilliant win over ‘The Leeds Warrior’ Josh Warrington back in February 2021 – a win that would have seen him crowned the new IBF 126lbs king if Warrington had not vacated his title a month prior to their behind closed doors clash.” A second fight with Warrington ended in a draw thanks to a cut Lara suffered from an accidental head butt. Suffice to say, Warrington has stated he feels Wood will win on Saturday.
“Well,” Lara has responded, “what can someone who got knocked out in 9 rounds have to say?”
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