Oddsmakers are favoring Mauricio Lara to defeat WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood in Nottingham, Eng. this Saturday night against tough Mauricio Lara.
Wood is unbothered.
“I prefer being an underdog, and I love proving people wrong,” Wood said.
Wood proved it in 2021 when he stopped heavily favored Xu Can to capture his belt. Wood felt underestimated when he fought skillful Michael Conlan last year.
A few minutes into the bout, he found himself on the canvas, courtesy of a beautiful overhand left.
Wood got up, but his legs betrayed him.
But not his heart.
He found the will to battle on, eating more shots but refusing to cave. Through six rounds, it was all Conlan, but Wood was doing better – climbing the mountain while avoiding disaster.
Wood relentlessly walked after Conlan in round 10, eating blow after blow but landing several of his own. Conlan was tired when round 11 commenced. Wood attacked, forcing Conlan to the ropes and unloading – eventually landing a wicked right that knocked Conlan unconscious and out of the ring.
Lara knows something about being an underdog as well. Two years ago, he faced former IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington in what many called a tune-up. Lara started slowly, happy to take a few to land his own. In round four, a variety of winging shots wobbled Warrington. A crushing left hook collapsed him. He beat the count but was in a world of hurt.
Warrington survived, but in round nine, after rallying bravely, a right hand punctuated by a crushing left hook dropped Warrington on his back.
The fight was emphatically over.
A sequel went down seven months after the original.
After an exciting first round, a nasty headbutt ended matters a few minutes later.
Lara fought twice in 2022, winning by knockout. The guy has thudding power in both hands. His confidence has grown since his win over Warrington.
Promoter Eddie Hearn expects a great fight this Saturday night.
“I think Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara has all the ingredients to be the fight of the year. We saw the event, knockout of the year, in Leigh Wood against Michael Conlan in the same arena. The arena is going to be jam-packed. It’s so unusual to see a world champion in his hometown, being nearly a 3/1 outsider in a voluntary defense. “Mauricio Lara is so convinced he walks through Leigh Wood in Nottingham. It’s going to be an absolute thriller,” added Hearn.
Wood is ready.
“Mauricio Lara has made things personal between us with the disrespect he showed me regarding my injury and my country. I’m going to show him what I’m all about. See you on February 18 in Nottingham – And Still!.”
Lara is impatient for the fight to start.
“I have been waiting for this opportunity for two years,” said Lara. “I’m not going to waste it. Your time has come, Leigh Wood.”
Lara, at 24, is ten years younger than Wood.
Wood is the better boxer. Lara hits harder. Wood will have to get Lara to respect his power. A tall order.
A famous movie line comes to mind.
“Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.”
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