Eddie Hearn proclaimed Mauricio Lara to be boxing’s best featherweight now that the hard-hitting Mexican has knocked out two former featherweight champions from England in their home country.
Lara, who is promoted by Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, stopped Leigh Wood in the seventh round of their fight for Wood’s WBA world featherweight title Saturday night at Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, England. Wood was ahead on the scorecards of judges Oliver Brien (59-55), Howard Foster (58-56) and Guillermo Perez Pineda (58-56) through six rounds, but Lara landed a left hook in an exchange that knocked Wood flat on his back with 23 seconds on the clock in the seventh round.
A disoriented Wood beat referee Michael Alexander’s count. Alexander was prepared to let their 12-round fight continue, but he halted it with six seconds remaining in the seventh round because Ben Davison, Wood’s trainer, threw in the towel.
Two years earlier, Lara (26-2-1, 19 KOs) stopped favored former IBF featherweight champ Josh Warrington (31-2-1, 8 KOs) in the ninth round of their 12-round, non-title fight at OVO Arena Wembley in London.
Hearn applauded Lara’s accomplishments during a post-fight press conference.
“Mauricio Lara is a 24-year-old Mexican world champion,” Hearn said, “who has come over to the UK and beaten Josh Warrington in [London] and also beaten Leigh Wood in Nottingham. He’s the number one featherweight in the world. It’s an unbelievable story. And he’s so exciting to watch. But you’re gonna see him again, and you’re gonna see him in the summer.”
Lara joined fellow Mexicans Luis Lopez (IBF) and Rey Vargas (WBC) as reigning featherweight champions. Another Mexican veteran, Emanuel Navarrete, informed the WBO recently that he would relinquish its 126-pound championship in favor of keeping the WBO junior lightweight title he won by stopping Australia’s Liam Wilson in the ninth round of their February 3 fight at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
The 34-year-old Wood indicated he will exercise the rematch clause in his contract. Hearn proposed that if Wood wants to take an extended break, Lara could defend his WBA belt against Warrington and the winner would be obligated to defend it against Wood (26-3, 16 KOs) in his following fight.
Mexico City’s Lara confirmed that he would gladly return to England to fight Wood or Warrington again. Hearn suggested that Lara could defend his title in the United States next as well.
“He’s gonna be borderline king, borderline royalty in Mexico tonight,” Hearn said. “And obviously, that would mean that he could have a big fight in America as well. But he has a huge profile here. There’s some big fights, big money for him here. And we’ve got two featherweights that want a crack.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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