Mauricio Lara feels like he’s heard this song before.
The streaking contender from Mexico City is unconvinced that Leigh Wood will live up to his word of going to war in their forthcoming title fight this weekend. Wood puts his WBA featherweight title at risk versus the visiting Lara, who is convinced that the defending champion has bitten off more than he can chew.
“He’s someone who talks a lot outside the ring,” Lara told BoxingScene.com through a translator. “He claims I won’t make it past the sixth round. I’ve heard it all before now and the ‘Bronco’ is here to win the world title. I’m going into the ring ready for a war. Let’s see if he can deliver what he promised.”
Lara (25-2-1, 18KOs) enters his first career title challenge when he faces Wood (26-2, 15KOs) atop a DAZN show this Saturday from Nottingham Arena in Wood’s hometown of Nottingham, England. It will mark the third trip to the UK in just over two years for Lara, who twice crossed the Atlantic for two bouts with Josh Warrington in 2021.
Warrington was unbeaten at the time of their first meeting, having vacated his IBF featherweight title prior to their February 2021 clash—two years almost to the day of this weekend’s title fight at Wembley Arena in London. Lara came up aces, forcing a ninth-round stoppage to emerge as a legitimate threat in the featherweight division.
Their September 2021 rematch took place in Warrington’s hometown of Leeds, England but produced an anticlimactic affair. A clash of head left Lara with a cut, which the ringside physician ruled was too severe to continue though the consensus belief was that a repeat feat was in the cards prior to the medical stoppage which resulted in a technical draw.
Lara scored a pair of third-round knockout wins in his 2022 campaign, which added to his current fifteen-fight unbeaten streak ahead of his first world title fight. Wood attempts his first defense as a full WBA titleholder, having previously won and held the secondary version of the belt before he received an upgrade earlier this year.
The title status and hometown advantage mean little to the oddsmakers, as Lara is a healthy -275 betting favorite according to bet365 sportsbook to bring home the WBA strap.
“We are going to take advantage of the opportunity as I did with Warrington, when he was number one (at featherweight),” vowed Lara, who is coming off a third-round knockout of Jose Sanmartin last October 22 in a Mexico City homecoming. “We know what it’s like to fight outside the country and, as I said, England is like my second home. “The WBA belt is very nice and I want it, I am very happy that Mr. Gilberto (Mendoza) has given me the opportunity to fight for it and we are going to take advantage of it.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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