Mauricio Lara has come to grips with not being able to challenge for his first major title.

The streaking contender settled for a homecoming appearance in the aftermath of a canceled fight with secondary WBA featherweight titlist Leigh Wood. The two were due to meet September 24 in Wood’s hometown of Nottingham, England, only for the Brit to reportedly suffer a biceps injury forcing him out of the fight.

The event would have marked the third trip to the UK in the last four starts for Lara, who saves his title aspirations for his 2023 campaign. For now, the focus is on his next fight against Colombia’s Jose Sanmartin this Saturday on DAZN from Plaza de Toros in his Mexico City hometown.

“I feel like things happen for a reason. Maybe it’s just not my time right now to become world champion,” Lara admitted during the final pre-fight press conference. “It’s been a while since I last fought in Mexico. I’m looking forward to providing my fans with a great performance.”

Lara (24-2-1, 17KOs) is unbeaten in his last fourteen starts. The lone blemish during that run was a technical draw with Josh Warrington in their rematch last September in his opponent’s hometown of Leeds, UK. The two met earlier that February at Wembley’s SSE Arena (now OVO Arena Wembley), with Lara exploding onto the featherweight scene in scoring a ninth-round knockout of the unbeaten Warrington.

A shot at then-IBF featherweight titlist Kiko Martinez was sought earlier this year. The opportunity instead went to Warrington who regained the belt he previously vacated after stopping Martinez in the seventh round of their March 26 clash in Leeds. Lara fought and won three weeks prior to the show, scoring a violent third-round knockout of Emilio Sanchez on March 5 in San Diego.

The hope at the time was to land a third fight with Warrington or a first shot at any of the other featherweight titlists. It seemed to have come with the Wood fight—albeit for a secondary belt—only for those plans to fall through. Now it’s on to present-day business, as he faces a streaking Sanmartin (33-5-1, 21KOs) who has won his last six fights.

It’s easy for Lara—generally regarded as the top current featherweight contender—to assume he will extend his own unbeaten streak and march ahead towards an eventual title shot. He instead prefers to learn from his own history as the reason to focus on the present rather than the future.

“Well, we saw what happened to Josh Warrington when he overlooked me. That won’t happen with me,” vowed Lara. “This is an important fight and we are facing a very good opponent. That’s why I chose him.

“I am focused on destroying [Sanmartin] and nothing else. After I do that, I’m going to go straight back to training camp without any breaks and focus on the featherweight champions.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox