Home Boxing News Underdog Leigh Wood out to prove critics wrong against Mauricio Lara

Underdog Leigh Wood out to prove critics wrong against Mauricio Lara

Leigh Wood

WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood 26-2 (16) will enter his world title defence against Mauricio ‘Bronco’ Lara 25-2-1 (18) at Nottingham Arena in Nottingham, England on February 18.

The 34-year-old Brit has a habit of upsetting the bookmakers. In his lone outing last year he climbed off the canvas in the opening round to drop Michael Conlan 18-1 (9) in the 11th round before finishing him off in the 12th, knocking him out of the ring in what was widely regarded as the Knockout of the Year.

That victory in March came after Wood’s breakthrough 12th round knockout of Xu Can 18-4 (3) in July 2021, another fight he entered as the underdog.

“I prefer being an underdog and I love proving people wrong,” Wood said to the BBC. “People tweet me all the time and say, ‘this is a mismatch and I’m going to lose’ but if you look at my Twitter I retweet them because it fuels me.”

Mexican Lara, 24, shocked the boxing world when he stopped former two-time IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington 31-2-1 (8) in nine brutal rounds in two years ago. Their immediate rematch ended in a two-round technical decision after Lara was cut over the left eye by an accidental clash of heads. Lara will enter the fight against Wood off the back of a pair of third-round knockout victories over Emelio Sanchez 19-2 (12) and Jose Sanmartin 34-6-1 (21) last year.

Wood knows he will have to be careful against the dangerous Lara, but says their styles match up well.

“Winning fuels me,” he said. “Lara has a style that suits me. Conlan was all wrong for me stylistically, but styles make fights and I’m confident in my ability.

“If I approach this fight wrong, it could be brutal. Lara is good and we saw that in the first fight with Josh Warrington, but if I do as I plan, this fight won’t reach halfway – I’m going to get Lara out of there.”

Wood and Lara were slated to fight in September but the champion was forced to withdraw with an injury. Lara has continuously claimed the injury was faked to avoid the fight.

“Your time has come Leigh Wood, no ‘injury’ can save you now from this,” Lara said.

Wood was having none of it.

“He said I faked my injury and that annoyed me. Why would I fake my injury?” Wood said.

“I didn’t have to fight him; this is a voluntary defence, but I want to test myself and I’m going to show him what I’m all about.”

If victorious against Lara, Nottingham’s Wood would like to land a fight against ‘Leeds Warrior’ Warrington – who lost his last bout to Luis Alberto Lopez 27-2 (15) in December – in what would be a local grudge match.

“Let’s just see what happens but Warrington can help me achieve my dream of headlining at the City Ground,” Wood said.

“The fight with Warrington is still a massive fight and there’s a rivalry between Nottingham and Leeds. He’s done a lot in boxing.”