Mauricio “Bronco” Lara is chomping at the bit to become a world champion, and the rough and rugged Mexican contender will get his opportunity Feb. 18 when he takes on Leigh Wood for the WBA featherweight title in Nottingham, United Kingdom.

Lara (25-2-1, 18 KOs) will be returning to British soil, the site where he enjoyed the biggest breakout of his eight-year career when he twice-dropped and stopped Josh Warrington in a ninth-round TKO win in Feb. 2021.

Warrington was undefeated at the time and was the IBF featherweight champion, but the title was not on the line. 

A rematch nine months later ended prematurely when Lara was cut over his left eye in the second round due to an accidental head clash.

The 24-year-old Lara has since scored two more wins after last facing Warrington, and he now feels that he’s ready for a new career milestone against Wood. 

“He knows what I have, and I know what he has as a world champion,” Lara told Izquierdazo. “He has something that I want, and I’m willing to put my life on the line to win that title.

“In this world title fight you will see a different Bronco Lara. I will not lose the guts and courage needed to destroy opponents. For each fight you work differently. In my last fights, I have worked differently, mistakes or not, but different. That is what I want to produce in each fight, something different. 

“I feel happy, motivated. This is my year, I want to be a world champion, and I will be a world champion.” 

The matchup should materialize to be an all-action affair in the 34-year-old Wood’s hometown. 

The Englishman Wood (26-2, 16 KOs) is coming off the 2021 fight of the year and knockout of the year frontrunner after scoring a come-from-behind, 12th round stoppage win against Michael Conlan, who fell out of the ring after absorbing the final punch from Wood. 

In the fight, Wood was knocked down in the first round, and he’ll likely get further tested again by the always-dangerous Lara. 

Lara and Wood were originally scheduled to meet in September, but Wood suffered a torn bicep while sparring and was forced to the sidelines. 

“I’m a highly reserved person. I don’t like to talk outside of the ring, I like to talk inside of it,” said Lara. “But I only want to tell Wood that God bless him, and to be prepared, because it's gonna be a war.” 

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at] or on