Wood shouldn’t trade with Lara says Eddie Hearn

By Boxing News - 02/17/2023 - Comments

By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn wants Leigh Wood to avoid trading with the knockout artist Mauricio Lara early on Saturday night because he feels that would put him in danger of getting flattened like Josh Warrington.

Hearn wanted Wood to fight the old timer Kiko Martinez because he felt he was an easy option for him to recover from the Nottingham native’s brutal war with Michael Conlan last March.

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Goodness knows you couldn’t blame Wood one bit if he took a lifetime break after shots pounding he took from Conlan in that fight.

Instead of listening to Hearn’s advice like a good one, Wood has chosen to go to the top of the food chain, hand-picking Lara out of his mistaken belief that he sees him as identical to the 36-year-old Kiko Martinez in talent.

For the record, Kiko is coming off a knockout loss to Josh Warrington, and has been beaten in two out of his last four fights. One can only imagine what Wood will say on Saturday night after he’s peeled off the canvas, ‘How could I be so wrong?’

WBA featherweight champion Wood (26-2, 16 KOs) and his analytical trainer Ben Davison have seen something in Lara (25-2-1, 18 KOs) that they’re convinced they can exploit, which is why they were so insistent in picking the 24-year-old Mexican warrior out of all the other contenders in the 126-lb division.

Wood is drunk on the success from his last against Conlan, on a high still from the positive replay that keeps floating around his head, making him think he can rally against Lara as he did against Michael.

Unfortunately for Wood, there’s a massive difference in power between the feather-fisted Conland and the devasting brute strength of Lara. Those shots that Conlan was hurting Wood with all night long will turn into knockout blows from Lara on Saturday.

Wood must box Lara

“We’ve been in here with some unbelievable fights. Obviously, Froch against Bute, Conlan against Wood, and this one will be right up there,” said Eddie Hearn to Secondsout about Saturday’s match between Leigh Wood and Mauricio Lara.

“It’s a very dangerous fight for Leigh Wood, but one we’re very excited about. It’s going to be very dangerous when you’re fighting a guy [Lara] that has dynamite in both hands and also has a great work rate.

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“He’s very tough and relentless as well. Leigh Wood also punches very hard, and he can take Leigh Wood out to the head or the body in this fight. He doesn’t want to trade with him. He wants to box smart, and that’s very difficult to do against a guy as relentless as Mauricio Lara,” said Hearn.

Wood isn’t much of a boxer, so it’s going to be hard for him to follow the advice of Hearn.

The closest thing Wood has come to going through the motions of boxing is when he used an illegal straight arm against Can Xu all night at the Matchroom Headquarters in Brentwood, Essex, in July 2021.

For those who don’t know what a straight arm is, it’s when a fighter extends their lead arm far out in front of them and uses that as a stick to keep their opponents from getting close enough to throw punches. When used repeatedly, a straight arm is very effective, but so, so illegal.

The referees are supposed to warn, penalize and disqualify if a fighter uses a straight arm, but in Wood’s case, he got away with it the entire fight with Xu. Will Wood resort to using the straight arm against Lara on Saturday night? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Again, if Hearn wants Wood to box, the only thing we’ll see resembling boxing is the likely straight arm from him. It’ll be fun to see if the referee does his job by penalizing Wood or if he’ll let him get away with this tactic.

“Don’t put that pressure on me,”  said Hearn when asked if he can guarantee the City Ground in Nottingham for Wood vs. Josh Warrington if Leigh comes out victorious on Saturday night against Lara.

“We’ll see. A lot depends on the date and cost as well. We can do that fight at the City Ground or Ellen Road, but it doesn’t really feel right with Leigh as the champion wherever we can make the most money. Certainly, for Leigh Wood, he would love to do it at the City Ground,” said Hearn.

Leigh has seen a flaw in Mauricio

“I’d love to know what Lara is thinking because he must know the reputation that he has, this huge punching Mexican destroying everyone,” said Darren Barker to Matchroom Boxing about this Saturday’s title fight between WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood and Mauricio Lara.

“Wood has seen something in Lara, along with Ben Davison. They want this fight. They’ve called for this fight; they don’t need this fight. It’s a voluntary. He [Lara] must be thinking, ‘What do they’re seeing in me that they think they can exploit?

“I think the flaws straightaway is Lara does Lara, which makes him very dangerous. He’s a big puncher, and he has a disregard for his opponent, but that makes him vulnerable. Something we’ve spoken about is the right hand dropping when he throws his favorite shot, which is the left hook.

“He throws it a lot early. He feints it off the jab, and he’ll feint with the shot, which is so important against someone like Leigh Wood, who we saw against Conlan. He took the feint to the body. That is Lara’s bread & butter. That is what he does so well.

“He [Wood] cannot afford to do this [lean back] against Lara because he’ll throw that hook, and what he does so well is he throws a right hand after. He makes sure that if he doesn’t hit you with the left hook, he’ll follow it up with a right hand,” Barker said.

Wood needs to move his feet

“He means business, he wants to hurt you. Instead of this [leaning back] straightaway, I’m talking about Leigh Wood about what I feel he needs to do before he lets his shots go is move his feet. He’s got to get out of range,” said Barker. “None of this [leaning back].

“The shots for me that I’d like to see him throw are shots to the body or up through the middle.

“I think variation is certainly key. The body shots [from Lara] come wide and through the middle. The natural thing to do is once you’re caught with an uppercut is to close up the guard so you don’t get caught again, and that makes you vulnerable around the side and the body.

“I feel touching him with the jab and thee little feint. It’s got to be one or the other. I don’t think Leigh Wood can afford to paw the shot out, because as soon as he feels that, Lara, he’ll fire over.

“Unless you’re using that to bait your opponent in to get that reaction to bang to the body. He has to be ready to go like a sprinter on the starting blocks. You’ve got to be ready to go. Hopefully, Lara falls over the front foot, and then you’ve got the option there. Body,  uppercut, and you can follow it up with a right hand.

“I think feet for me. It’s so important that he [Wood] uses these [feet]. His positioning is so important in this fight. The way that he moves after he throws his shots, Lara. He’s always bobbing & weaving when he’s in there. You got to let your hands go a bit because he’s open to hooks himself.

“It’s so important that he [Wood] moves his head after because once he’s got you where he wants you, he’s such a devastating puncher. So, I feel going back to his feet, they are crucial. There’s an argument that this fight could be first half Lara and second-half Leigh Wood.

“Leigh Wood, in my opinion, has the superior skill and boxing ability, and I feel he’s just coming into his own, and the confidence is through the roof. There’s also a chance that he could walk Lara onto one early.

“Anyone can get hurt at the beginning of a fight. I just feel there are so many ways this fight can be won or lost for either fighter,” said Barker.