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      Leigh Wood says Mauricio Lara’s words have made their anticipated clash personal

      ByMonelo Gabriel

      Feb 14, 2023

      Leigh Wood has been going from strength to strength at 126 pounds. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

      On Saturday, WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood will take on hard-hitting Mauricio Lara in what appears to be a fan-friendly shootout at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, England.

      Originally, the two had been booked to meet on September 24. However, Wood suffered a torn biceps in training forcing the fight to be postponed.

      “(Mauricio Lara) affirmed that I faked my injury; He said that all the English are running from him and we are all chickens,” Wood (26-2, 16 KOs) told The Ring. “They’re great affirmations to do and it gives it a little bit of a needle and helps me push myself a little bit harder, when you push through the reps, a little bit harder, a little bit faster. I have the morsel between my teeth; he has made it a little more personal.”

      Wood says the injury occurred three weeks before their initial meeting.

      “It was just a little tear in my biceps, in combat, but it took three weeks of complete rest,” he explained. “I tried to persevere, I rested for three or four days. I tried sparring again, he was good for three rounds and by the fourth round, I could feel it, by the fifth, sixth, he had a dead arm and couldn’t lift it.

      “I tried again to rest a bit more, but a fight of that magnitude definitely needs two arms, it needs the proper preparation and I wasn’t going to get it.”

      Wood–Conlan action. Photo by Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

      The Nottingham-born 34-year-old boxer, who made up one half of The Ring’s 2022 Fight of the Year and 2022 Knockout of the Year for his dramatic comeback behind the stoppage of Michael Conlan last March, could have been forgiven for facing a minor fighter.

      “I probably have three or four fights left in the sport and I want them to be big fights,” he said. “I want them to be trying fights and challenging myself.”

      Wood, The Ring’s No. 6 featherweight, reckons that Lara could well be his toughest test to date.

      “Possibly, I’m definitely treating him like he is,” Wood admitted. “Styles make the fights. Is this the most difficult style for me? No. But on paper it’s the biggest test. He’s very dangerous, he’s a big puncher, unpredictable.

      “His confidence remains high. I think he will come here with the belief that he can win, so it’s my job to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

      Their respective styles suggest an exciting fight that won’t go far.

      “If you look at our records (then you would think) they’re not going to last 12 rounds, but you never know with fights like this,” he said. “Everyone expects a knockout and it doesn’t come, sometimes everyone expects a points decision and a knockout comes. You have to prepare for 12 rounds, but I don’t see it getting to 12.”

      Wood’s career developed slowly until he claimed the vacant British title against Reece Mold in February 2021.

      Ironically, that was on the undercard of Lara’s closet coming out party when he shockingly stopped Josh Warrington (TKO 9). Having witnessed that upset and ringside for the rematch, the defending champion has an idea of ​​what he’s likely to face on fight night.

      “He’s very good at countering certain blows, he hits very hard,” he explained. “But if you deprive him of success, he will become reckless and force it.

      “There are many weaknesses, sometimes with boxers your greatest asset is your greatest weakness and that is probably the case with Mauricio Lara. He hits very hard, but at what cost? He gasses himself for the big shots that sometimes aren’t there. His feet are sometimes not ready to shoot, but he’ll still shoot. There are a few more vulnerabilities that I’m going to explore that I don’t want to say.”

      Wood will also have the full backing of a lively crowd, cheering on his every shot.

      “I have a huge fan base in Nottingham, a lot of them are Nottingham Forest (football club), I’ve been going since I was very young,” he said. “Making sure (the fans) reap the benefits of my career and where I get to enjoy those big nights is important.

      “I was at the Carl Froch fights when it started to pack the arena and now to go do it myself and keep the boxing buzz alive in town and keep producing champions inspires the next generation. That’s probably one of the most important things about these nights.”

      Although Wood is focused solely on Lara’s next fight, he has future goals and aspirations that, if he is victorious, he hopes to achieve.

      “My next fight for me has to be the City Ground, as for the opponent, I’m not really worried, it’s just a box I want to check, that’s my dream to be the first person to headline the City Ground,” he said. .

      “If it’s (Josh) Warrington, I think it would be a sellout. The rivalry between the two football clubs (Nottingham Forest and Leeds United), both in the Premier League, would be huge. If not, it could be (IBF champion Luis Alberto) Lopez in a unification or if (Michael) Conlan can get that fight first and win, it would be a massive rematch on the City Ground.”

      On paper, this is a delicious fight that should provide plenty of action due to the aggressive styles of both fighters. Wood enters this contest at the peak of his powers having earned the knockout of the year in Fight of the Year and is confident of retaining the title from him. However, he can’t afford to start slowly, as he did against Conlan, when he fell in the first round.

      Lara (25-2-1, 18 KOs), The Ring’s No. 4 featherweight, was an unknown when he was selected to face the then-undefeated Warrington. The Brit tried to warm up for the fight, but the Mexican hit the fences and did considerable damage. After dropping Warrington in the fourth round, Lara turned to aggression and scored a ninth-round knockout. The two met in a rematch, but a clash of heads led to an inconclusive no-contest decision in round 2. The 24-year-old has fought twice since (third-round knockouts of Emilio Sánchez and José Sanmartín ).

      Wood-Lara, in addition to the secondary card, will air on DAZN at 2:00 ET/ 11:00 PT and 7:00 pm GMT

      You can send questions and/or comments to Anson at (email protected) and you can follow him on
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