Mauricio Lara #1 in featherweight division – Gareth A Davies

By Boxing News - 02/21/2023 - Comments

By Matt Lieberman: Mauricio Lara cemented himself in as the #1 fighter in the featherweight division last Saturday night with his seventh round knockout win over WBA 126-lb champion Leigh Wood at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, UK.

If there were any questions about who the # 1 fighter is in the 126-lb division, Lara (26-3-1, 19 KOs) answered them by destroying an outstanding fighter in Leigh Wood.

Lara played possum

Most would agree that Wood fought as good a fighter as you’ll ever see from a champion, but he arguably got tricked by Lara, who clearly put his offense in idle so that he could wait to lull Leigh to fight aggressively in a way that would leave him open to one of his big shots.

For the naive boxing fans who believed that Lara wasn’t throwing shots from rounds three through six because he was having a hard time landing and wasn’t comfortable with the power of Wood.

That’s not what was going on. Lara was holding back on purpose because he knew that his best chance of winning was if Wood fought aggressively and left his chin exposed, which is exactly what happened in the seventh round.

Top featherweights:

1. Mauricio Lara
2. Robeisy Ramirez
3. Luis Lopez
4. Brandon Figueroa
5. Raymond Ford
6. Michael Conlan
7. Mark Magsayo
8. Ruben Villa
9. Josh Warrington
10. Joet Gonzalez

It might bother some of the British boxing fans to see Leigh Wood off the top 10 list of featherweights from this writer, but it’s impossible to include him in that list due to how bad he looked against Lara and Conlan.

Mauricio Lara #1 at featherweight

“I know the judges had him four rounds and two rounds ahead. I thought it was better for him to take the fight late, but Lara’s power and aggressiveness marked his face up early,” said Gareth A. Davies to iFL TV about last Saturday night’s victory by Mauricio Lara over WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood.

“He [Wood] looked in a little bit of trouble early on [in round two] and then seemed to recover and do fairly well and outbox Lara. He’s everyone’s worst nightmare at 126 lbs, isn’t he?

YouTube video

“He’s a nasty little bagger, spitting on Warrington after the fight. Trying to get into the corner [of Wood], and everyone trying to keep him away. You don’t know if he’s going to head-butt his opponent after the fight or spit on them, hit him again or say, ‘well done,'” said Davies, sounding as if he’s got Lara confused with Josh Warrington, who has a reputation for head-butting.

“He’s actually a nice fellow, but when he has his radar beamed on his opponents, there’s no getting away from him. He went into this without a world title and rated by many people as #1 in the division. He probably is.

Leigh would not have survived the seventh

“Does Michael Conlan beat him, even though Michael Conlan got knocked out by Leigh,” said Davies. “That was a very good fight. There were some terrific punches thrown by Leigh, which put a dent in Lara at times, but he couldn’t force him out of there.

“Lara went into his shell a couple of times. Leigh had a couple of good rounds and a couple of good flurries as well. When they exchanged those left hooks in the seventh round, it was goodnight, Vienna.

“There was only 12 seconds left in the round,” Gareth said about Wood only having 12 seconds left in the seventh round after he was dropped by Lara. “He had to survive about 10 seconds after the count. You could have left him in there.

“Also, the referee hadn’t ensured that Lara was back in his neutral corner, by the way, and literally, he had pushed the referee out of the way to get to him. He should have been in the neutral corner while that count was going on.

“He’d made his way over to the referee. That was long as well. But ultimately, Leigh Wood,  his eyes were gone, and his legs looked like they were gone. Lara is a horrible, dangerous, spiteful puncher.

“I think it was the right decision. He could have recovered in a minute and come out, and much of the same could have happened, and he could have got very hurt, and he could have taken too many punches. So I’m with Davison. I think he did the right thing.

“It’s Davison’s prerogative. He knows Leigh Wood very well. He’s been with him a couple of years. He was thinking of Leigh Wood. He wasn’t thinking of himself. All he was thinking about was his fighter’s safety.

“Those questioning it need examining. Why would they want Wood to carry on? Lara didn’t look in trouble in that fight, did he? There were still five rounds to go. Leigh had taken a lot of punishment, and Lara had as well. It was always going to be that kind of fight.

“I don’t know why we have people questioning it. It was a stupid decision. I don’t know who is truly questioning. It’s also enough time to recover, but if he was concussed,” said Davies.

Lara’s youth & power was too much for Wood

“Leigh is 34, and Lara is 24. Lara is a very heavy puncher,”  said Davies. “Nine of his last ten wins were by stoppage. He looked out and gone for me. I don’t know if you thought he should have carried on. You have to look at Leigh’s age and take all those factors into it as well.

“Ben knows him. People are just giving their opinions. That’s how they feel, but this is fighter’s safety that we’re talking about. We’re not talking about judges’ decisions. We’re talking about a fighter being hurt. He banged his head when he went down and went flat.

“It was the right decision. I have no doubt about it. At the time and since seeing it back, I’ve had no doubt that I made the right decision. That’s the other thing. He [Wood] gets to fight another day,” said Davies.