Leigh Wood taking “dangerous one” against Mauricio Lara says Tony Bellew

By Boxing News - 02/08/2023 - Comments

By Barry Holbrook: Leigh Wood (26-2, 16 KOs) will be putting his WBA featherweight title on the line against the “dangerous” #10 ranked contender Mauricio Lara (25-2-1, 18 KOs) next week on February 18th on DAZN at the Motorpoint Arena, in Nottingham, England.

The 34-year-old Wood didn’t need to take this fight against Lara after he was elevated recently to full WBA champion by the World Boxing Association. Still, he wanted to anyway because they’d been previously scheduled to battle until an arm injury that Leigh suffered caused the match to be canceled.

Wood received a lot of criticism from boxing fans after pulling out of the fight with Lara, with many people feeling he’d had second thoughts about facing the mighty Mexican after the way he’d breezed through Josh Warrington and been robbed in the second fight.

Wood must control his slugging instincts

Leigh has a bad habit of getting motivated by the cheering when fighting at home in Nottingham, resulting in him going to war with his opponents.

Usually, that works in Wood’s favor because he’s fought exclusively weak punchers his entire 12-year professional career, but against Lara, he’s facing a guy with enormous power in either hand.

Lara is a freak of nature in terms of his raw strength, and he’s unnaturally strong. With Wood fighting at home in front of what is expected to be a large group of his supporters, he will get in the trenches with Lara and try and beat him at his own game.

It would be a perfect strategy if Wood had similar power, a strong chin, and if he was young. Unfortunately, Wood is an ancient 34, his chin is fragile, and he’s going up against a beast in Lara, who will be looking to take the judges out of play for fear he’ll get robbed again, as he did in his second fight with Warrington.

Lara – a train without brakes

There’s a big difference in age and power between the 24-year-old Lara and Wood. It’s going to be a tough one for Wood to win because he can’t count on Lara gassing out in the later rounds as he did in his last fight against Michael Conlan last March.

Wood’s fragile chin could be a problem against the big-punching Lara, as he was badly hurt by Conlan, who arguably can’t crack an edge with his punches. It’s fair to say that if Wood could barely handle Conlan’s shots, he would not last long getting bombarded with the colossal artillery that Lara would be dropping on him on February 18th.

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“Wood-Lara, that one takes place on February 18th at the Motorpoint Arena [in Nottingham, England],” said Ade Oladipo to the DAZN Boxing Show.

“It’s a fight that was supposed to happen a few months back. Leigh Wood got injured, and he’s now been elevated to full [WBA featherweight] champion. So he could have avoided Lara, but he’s like, ‘You know what? Let’s run it back again.’ That’s a big first one to kick off the year over here.”

Leigh ‘Dancing with the Devil’

It’s a dangerous one when you consider what this boy’s [Leigh Wood] has got as options; that [Michael] Conlan rematch is an absolutely mouthwatering rematch in the summer, with Josh Warrington at Elland Road or the City Ground, take your pick, whichever one it is,” said Tony Bellew about the Wood vs. Lara clash next week on February 18th.

“It’s massive; it’s huge. It is what it’s labeled. It’s literally ‘Dancing with the devil.’ This boy [Mauricio Lara] is not to be played with, but fair play to Leigh Wood; I can’t wait to see it.”

“Yes, it’s a big one, I can’t wait to see it, and good luck to Leigh Wood as well,” said Ade. “If he wins this one, it’s the lottery in the summer, whether it be over here in the UK or go to chase those big fights in America.”