Hearn: Leigh Wood should be favorite over Lara

By Boxing News - 02/15/2023 - Comments

By Charles Brun: Leigh Wood’s promoter Eddie Hearn disagrees with the oddsmakers, who have Mauricio Lara as a 3-to-1 favorite to win on Saturday night against the WBA featherweight champion at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, England.

Hearn feels that the 34-year-old Wood (26-2, 16 KOs), who took a royal beating for ten rounds in his last fight against Michael Conlan, should be the favorite over Lara (25-2-1, 18 KOs) because of his experience, home advantage and his victory in his last fight against the Irish fighter.

The oddsmakers see Wood’s advanced age, the problems he had with Conlan, getting decked and getting the stuffing brutally beaten out of him, and feel that with Lara being the one that is landing those hard shots, poor Leigh won’t last long in there on Saturday night.

The only reason Conlan got tired is that he exhausted himself from repeatedly punching Wood in the head. The number of headshots that Wood took in the fight from Conlan was disturbing.

Wood dismisses Lara threat

Hearn says he suggested that Wood take an easy fight against 36-year-old Kiko Martinez, who has lost two out of his last five fights, but Leigh rejected that fight, saying that Martinez is just as dangerous as Lara. It’s interesting how little Wood knows about Lara, but also not surprising.

You can argue that if Wood had actually done his homework, he’d have discovered that Lara hasn’t lost a fight since 2018, and that was a situation where he got cold.

Kiko Martinez was knocked out last year by Josh Warrington, which further shows how little Wood knows about Lara for him to be viewing the 36-year-old Spaniard as being on the same level as the 24-year-old Mauricio.

At least if Wood gets knocked out on Saturday, he can have a good excuse by telling the fans that he made a mistake by thinking Lara was the equivalent of Kiko. Talk about your ignorance.

Should Leigh Wood be the favorite?

“I just saw Mauricio Lara in there. It sounded like someone was getting shot. Those left hooks pinging in there,” said Eddie Hearn to iD Boxing about the sound from the impact of the punches from Mauricio Lara during his open workout.

“Leigh Wood looks in tremendous shape and ready to fight. Leigh is nearly 3-to-1 in this fight. It’s madness,” Hearn continued. I can’t believe it. It’s a 50-50 fight. People keep saying, ‘Mauricio Lara, Leigh Wood late,’ but really, I think Leigh should be the slight favorite in this fight.”

It makes no sense for Wood to be the favorite over Lara because he looked like a domestic-level fighter last March, and an old one at that. Moreover, one can’t imagine the eleven months that Wood has been out of the ring since that fight has done him any good.

“He’s the hope fighter; he’s coming off a win over Conlan; he’s the home fighter, he’s got 9,000 fans cheering him on, but Lara is very dangerous,” said Hearn. “How good is Maurcio Lara? We know he’s dangerous, but Leigh Wood and Ben Davison see something.

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“‘I feel that Kiko Martinez is just as dangerous as Lara,'” said Hearn about what Wood told him when he suggested he face 36-year-old Kiko Martinez, who has recent losses to Josh Warrington and Zelfa Barrett. In comparison, Lara hasn’t lost since 2018.

If Wood believes Kiko is just as dangerous as Lara, then he shouldn’t have any problems bum-rushing him early on Saturday night and banging him out of there. After all, if Lara is a mediocre, fading fighter like Martinez, Wood shouldn’t have any problems destroying him as Josh Warrington did last year.

Lara will be dangerous early

“We’re so lucky to have this fight. With experience,” said Hearn when asked how Wood beats Lara. “Don’t forget, Leigh Wood is a massive puncher. He [Lara] got hurt in his last fight, the one before [against Emilio Sanchez in March 2022, which came before Lara’s last fight against Jose Sanmartin. For the record, Lara destroyed Emilio Sanchez in three rounds, leaving him folded backward, with both legs buckled underneath him].

Leigh thinks he can take him out. Lara is going to be so dangerous early,” said Hearn.

Lara is dangerous not just early but throughout his entire fights. It’s unclear where Hearn got the idea that Lara is only lethal during the first half of his fights because if he took the time to watch his past contests, he’d note that he punches with huge power even in the later rounds.

The important question is, can Leigh Wood handle getting hit to the head for 12 rounds from Lara without dropping for the ten count?