Leigh Wood figures this weekend will be the last time he can truly prove the naysayers wrong.
A dangerous showdown with Mexico City’s Mauricio Lara marks the third straight fight where Wood will enter the ring as the betting underdog. Hometown advantage is afforded Wood, who still enters Nottingham Arena as a +200 underdog to defend his WBA featherweight title this Saturday on DAZN.
“This is another tough fight for me but I feel like I'm in a position where I’ll finally get the credit that I deserve, more than I have in previous fights,” Wood told BoxingScene.com.
Wood (26-2, 16KOs) brings a three-fight win streak into his first defense since being upgraded to full titlist from his previous secondary WBA ‘Regular’ featherweight title status. The run includes a win over then-unbeaten Reece Mould in February 2021, leading to his challenge of then red-hot WBA ‘Regular’ featherweight titlist Xu Can, whom Wood stopped in the 12th and final round of their July 2021 clash to win the title.
A dramatic, come-from-behind 12th round knockout of unbeaten Michael Conlan last March 12 was praised more as a memorable fight (and BoxingScene.com’s 2022 Fight of the Year) than a career-defining win for Wood. This weekend’s DAZN main event has been hailed as a potential coronation for Lara, who is a -275 favorite to end Wood’s title reign and what has been perceived as an overachieving run.
“I feel like I didn’t get a lot of credit for the Xu Can fight at the time,” insisted Wood. “He was supposed to be one of the best featherweights. But when I beat him, then it changed to, ‘Oh maybe he wasn’t that good to begin with.’ They couldn’t take the Conlan win away from me.
“So maybe once I beat Bronco Lara, and defend my world title against Josh Warrington in the ring straight away, they’ll look back and realize he was as good as they thought and that I’m just that good, too.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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