Leigh Wood is set to ‘Dance with the Devil’ in front of his hometown crowd.

The reigning WBA featherweight titlist brimmed with confidence as he soaked in the cheers from the raucous crowd during Friday’s weigh-in at Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, England. The same venue will host Saturday’s DAZN show, headlined by Wood’s scheduled twelve-round clash with visiting challenger Mauricio Lara.

Wood tipped the official British Boxing Board of Control scale at the featherweight limit of 126 pounds for his first defense since he was upgraded to full WBA titlist from his previous WBA ‘Regular’ featherweight title reign. Mexico City’s Lara (25-2-1, 18KOs) was also 126 pounds, putting to rest any concern that the first-time title challenger was struggling to make weight.

An intense on-stage staredown followed, along with a brief shove as both boxers jockeyed for position in front of the cameras. The minor skirmish was quickly diffused, as both will save their energy for Saturday.

“Knockout,” Lara vowed to host David Diamante when prompted for a prediction. “Number one, new champion!”

Naturally, the local hero has a different viewpoint.

“Sing again as loud as you can Saturday night,” Wood demanded. “Bring the noise, let’s do this!”

The bout comes 49 weeks after Wood’s unforgettable thriller with Belfast’s Michael Conlan. Wood (26-2, 16KOs) overcame an opening round knockdown and a scorecard deficit to floor Conlan late in round eleven and send him through the ropes and out of the ring midway through the 12th and final round of what was recognized by BoxingScene.com as the 2022 Fight of the Year.

Lara is unbeaten in his last 15 starts as he is set for his third trip to the U.K. The streaking contender splashed onto the scene with a ninth-round stoppage of then-unbeaten Josh Warrington two years ago almost to the day of his first title challenge. Their September 2021 rematch took place in Warrington’s hometown of Leeds, but ended in anticlimactic fashion as a clash of heads left Lara with a cut which ringside physicians deemed too severe to continue.

The interim period leading to Saturday’s title fight saw Lara rack up a pair of third-round knockout victories. The most recent came in a blitzing of Jose Sanmartin last October 22 in his Mexico City hometown. The event was a consolation prize, as Lara’s originally scheduled September 24 clash with Wood was postponed after Wood suffered a torn biceps.  

DAZN main card, 7:00 p.m. GMT/2:00 p.m. EST

Dalton Smith (13-0, 10KOs), Sheffield, Yorkshire, 139 pounds vs. Billy Allington (10-1-4, 0KOs), Egham, Surrey, 139 pounds—12 rounds, junior welterweight

Cheavon Clarke (4-0, 4KOs), Gravesend, Kent, 199 pounds vs. Israel Duffus (20-8, 18KOs), Los Angeles via San Miguelito, Panama, 197 pounds—rounds, 10 cruiserweight

Gary Cully (15-0, 9KOs), Naas, Ireland, 134 pounds vs. Wifredo Flores (10-0-1, 5KOs), Dunkirk, New York via Ponce, Puerto Rico, 134 pounds—10 rounds, lightweight

Gamal Yafai (19-2, 11KOs), Birmingham, West Midlands, 124 pounds vs. Diego Alberto Ruiz (23-6-1, 12KOs), Las Talitas, Argentina, 123 1pounds—10 rounds, junior featherweight 

DAZN ‘Before The Bell’, 4:15 p.m. GMT/11:15 a.m. EST

Aaron Bowen (pro debut), Coventry, West Midlands, 165 pounds vs. Mathieu Gomes (5-4, 5KOs), Saint-Etienne-du-Bois, Ain, France, weight to come—6 rounds, middleweight

Junaid Bostan (4-0, 4KOs), Rotterham, Yorkshire, 155 pounds vs. Peter Kramer (12-7-3, 8KOs), Budapest, Hungary, 155 pounds—8 rounds, junior middleweight

Kieron Conway (18-3-1, 4KOs), Northampton, Northamptonshire, 168 pounds vs. Jorge Silva (21-7, 12KOs), Matoshinos, Portugal, 167 pounds—8 rounds, super middleweight

Sam Maxwell (16-1, 11KOs), Liverpool, Merseyside, 144 pounds vs. Shaun Cooper (13-4, KOs), Willenhall, West Midlands, 143 pounds—6 rounds, junior welterweight

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox