The Mexican invasion commences tonight in a double dip of what should be all-action bouts giving fans in Manchester, Belfast, and across the world plenty to cheer about. In one of the two intriguing featherweight matchups on the schedule, we have a rematch between Mauricio Lara and Leigh Wood.
Early this year in February, these two gave us a helluva scrap, so expect this second fight to be a continuation starting in the 8th round, if you will. We have fresh blood in the other 126-pounder bout tonight when Luis Alberto Lopez takes on challenger Michael Conlan. Pretty much a 50-50 on the betting books as far as boxing goes, and one can make an argument for either man. As a reminder, Lara/Wood will be live streaming on DAZN and Lopez/Conlan on ESPN+ in America.
Let’s start with the second meeting for Mauricio Lara and Leigh Wood. Leigh was up on all three scorecards until a left hook exchange sent Wood crashing to the canvas. Wood was boxing nicely on the outside and at range after some shaky moments in the 1st and 2nd rounds. Lara, no surprise, was the busier boxer throwing 275 punches, according to Compubox, compared to 227. That said, Lara only managed to land one more punch than Wood 89 to 88. Mauricio has a way of baiting and/or forcing his opponent into a brawl.
The key for Wood is to stay on script and try to limit the back-and-forth punching at close range. A quick clinch to stalemate at times would be smart as much as boxing fans hate when it happens. Mauricio already proved he could take Leigh’s best shots, so one can assume Lara will be looking to hunt his prey early and often. This boxing podcaster believes it will be a case of rinse and repeat, meaning Wood will still have success, but it will end the same, possibly even earlier. Another entertaining bout regardless of what the outcome will be.
My Official Prediction is Mauricio Lara by 9th round stoppage.
After a fast start to the prospect portion of his career, Michael Conlan was losing a bit of steam as a contender until he defeated TJ Doheny back in 2021. Conlan not only showed he could look good on the outside, boxing nicely. He was flashing abilities to get work done on the inside targeting the body with heavy shots. In March of 2022, Conlan dropped Leigh Wood in the very first round. He proceeded to dominate the 2nd round and managed to out-land Wood all the way until the 7th round. The two boxers traded rounds until Conlan, who landed 25 to 13 in the 11th, was knocked down. Wood went on to finish Conlan in scary yet spectacular fashion knocking him out of the ring in what many thought was KO of the year.
Ever since Luis Alberto Lopez lost a decision to a more than capable Ruben Villa, he went on a nice run that hit its peak late last year beating Josh Warrington. Lopez was able to get the better of the two in a spirited fight through 8 rounds. However, Warrington turned up the punch volume making for a fun but rough-and-tumble finish down the stretch. Along the way, Lopez also picked up solid victories over Andy Vances, highly-touted unbeaten prospect Gabriel Flores Jr., and Isaac Lowe.
Although Conlan will have to battle in the trenches at times, he’s best served using a jab taking advantage of his reach. Trying to grind out the win in a give-and-take inside scuffle will not bode well overall. Even a grimy, some would say dirty fighter in Josh Warrington couldn’t deter Lopez from winning the 10th round after having clearly lost the previous round. A pick’em type fight, if it goes to the scorecards and Micheal Conlan stays upright, will favor the home talent. Keep an eye (no pun intended) on Luis Alberto’s left eye, which has been cut more than once in recent years. Hooks to the body (left hook in particular) will create openings to the head that Lopez will cash in enough to pull off technically a very minor upset. Lopez is anywhere from +100 topping out at +110.
My Official Prediction is Luis Alberto Lopez by Split-Decision. Podcast Link:
Side Note: Also Saturday on Sky Sports, Lawrence Okolie vs. Chris Billiam-Smith. Okolie will win the early rounds behind a jab but look for Billiam-Smith to rally at least somewhat, making for some good two-way stuff. Another one to watch out for is on DAZN in the States on the undercard of Alexis Rocha vs. Anthony Young and Oscar Collazo vs. Melvin Johnson. My Predictions: Okolie, Rocha & Collazo all come out on top.
Written by Chris Carlson, Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio