By Charles Brun: Mauricio Lara will defend his WBA featherweight title this Saturday, May 27th, against Leigh Wood in a rematch at the AO Arena in Manchester, England.
Promoter Eddie Hearn is calling the Lara vs. Wood II fight a “50-50 fight,” believing Leigh (26-3, 16 KOs) has a chance to win because h was giving Mauricio problems before the bottom dropped out in the seventh round in their fight last February in Nottingham, England.
It could be wishful thinking on Hearn’s part, wanting Wood to win a fight for old times’ sake. Most boxing fans view Saturday’s rematch as an easy mow down for the 25-year-old Lara.
The powerful Lara is younger, stronger, and a more talented fighter than the 34-year-old Wood. Lara will liquidate Wood and send him into retirement on Saturday night.
Wood, never a great fighter to begin with, hit the ceiling of his potential when he rallied to defeat Michael Conlan by a twelfth round knockout in March of last year. Leigh was getting the stuffing beaten out of him by Conlan, who was world’s better until running out of gas late.
That fight took the best out of Wood, leaving a shell of the fighter he had been before Conlan got to him. Hearn should have talked Wood into fighting Conlan again instead of sending him into a massacre at the hands of Lara.
Had Conlan not faded, Wood would have lost a lopsided decision, and there would have never been a fight against Lara.
Wood was ahead of Lara (26-2-1, 19 KOs) by the scores 59-55, 58-56, and 58-56 at the time of the stoppage in the seventh round. That was a strange fight because Lara started out fast in the first two rounds and had the 34-year-old Wood hurt.
But for some reason, Lara backed off and did next to nothing for the next four rounds before coming alive in the seventh round to blast Wood to the canvas with a powerful left hook to the head.
Wood’s trainer Ben Davison wisely threw the towel in after he got back to his fight. Ben realized that Lara was going to quickly finish off Wood, given the physical state he was in at the time.
Is this the last chance for Leigh Wood?
“It might be. I guess it is, really,” said Eddie Hearn to iFL TV about this being the ‘last chance’ for Leigh Wood this Saturday when he faces Mauricio Lara in a rematch in Manchester.
“When you say, ‘It’s win or retire,’ people sometimes think it’s a bit harsh, but he [Wood] only wants to be in world-level fights. If he loses to Mauricio Lara, maybe the Josh Warrington fight. He’s making big money.
“These fighters, once they start making big money, it’s very difficult to go back. He’s changed his life. I’m so pleased with everything he’s achieved. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins this Saturday. Honestly,” said Hearn about Leigh Wood.
“There’s something about Leigh Wood when he sat in here with Ben Davison six, seven, or eight weeks ago. I said to him, ‘Look, you can let Warrington fight Lara and fight the winner. More time for you.’ ‘No, I need this fight now. I know I can beat him.‘
“Ben was backing him, but Ben also knows how dangerous this fight is. There’s something inside Leigh Wood that makes me think he might do it on Saturday night. I don’t know,” said Hearn.
Mauricio Lara will start faster
“Balls of steel to go back. It’s going to be brutal to watch this fight because Mauricio Lara is going to come out much faster. Mauricio Lara is going to really believe he can take him out early in this fight,” said Hearn. “He knows he can hurt him, but he also knows about the power of Leigh Wood.
“You saw that in the first fight. He [Lara] was a little more cautious than he normally is, but I really think this fight is going to be a blood bath on Saturday. It’s going to be a brilliant fight, full of drama, and I believe it’s a 50-50 fight, I really do.
“For Mauricio Lara, he needs to win this fight and there are big, big fights out there for him. Whether that’s Josh Warrington or maybe the winner or [Michael Conlan against [Luis Alberto] Lopez, [Emanuel] Navarrete, or whoever that might be. I think this is going to be a tremendous fight and full of drama,” said Hearn.