Mauricio Lara: I’ll try to KO Leigh Wood faster this time
Mauricio Lara showed why he is arguably the biggest punching featherweight in the world when he scored a come-from-behind seventh round stoppage over Leigh Wood to annex the WBA title and silence the defending beltholder’s passionate fans, at Nottingham Arena, Nottingham, in February.
Wood activated a rematch clause and the two will meet again at AO Arena, Manchester, on Saturday.
Lara, The Ring’s No. 1-rated featherweight, expects another engaging firefight but feels the first fight will help him in their rematch.
“It is gonna be a good fight,” Lara (26-2-1, 19 KOs) told The Ring through Alejandro Brito of Bxstrs Promotions. “We know now what [Wood] is capable of. It was a great experience but this rematch will be different because I have prepared myself better than ever and it will show May 27th. I’ll try to KO him faster this time.”
The 25-year-old Mexico City resident had been the featherweight boogeyman, as a largely unknown fighter, since he stunned Josh Warrington in February 2021.
He had to patiently wait for his title shot and now that he has acquired the WBA title, he intends to go from strength to strength.
“It is definitely the biggest accomplishment of my life,” he said proudly. “I had fought so hard to get [the title] and it took a while but I finally made it. I will keep on reaching goals.
“[I celebrated] with my family, my neighborhood, everyone from my gym. Everyone knew the sacrifices I was making for that fight.”
And Lara was keen to deliver a message to Wood.
“I hope you are doing great; we both know it’s gonna be a great fight,” said Lara, who arrived in England on Monday. “I will also say he is not gonna take back from me something I worked so hard to get, since I was eight years old. He is not going to take that away from me.”
The first fight was an exciting fight and this writer expects the same to be true of the rematch. I wonder if the quick turnaround will favor the defending titlist.
I believe Wood will have to get through the early exchanges without taking any damage. In the first fight, Wood was cut from a clash of heads in the first round and had to gut out a difficult second round. The Brit needs Lara to blow himself out and then Wood needs to box a smart fight, which he showed, last time, that he is more than capable of doing so. However can he avoid Lara’s power throughout the contest?
Wood (26-3, 16 KOs), The Ring’s No. 7-rated featherweight, had been a nine-and-a-half-year pro when he claimed the vacant British title at the expense of Reece Mould (TKO 9). That triumph vaulted him into a fight with Chinese punching machine Xu Can, whom Wood shockingly upset by final-round stoppage.
The 34-year-old proved that was no fluke by getting off the canvas early to roar back and stop Michael Conlan (TKO 12) while trailing on all three scorecards. That fight was later named The Ring’s 2022 “Fight of the Year” and “Knockout of the Year.” Wood then lost the title to Lara 11 months later.
Lara-Wood 2, plus supporting undercard, will be broadcast on DAZN beginning at 2 pm ET/11 am PT. and at 7 pm GMT.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.