You have to hand it to Leigh Wood. The 34 year old is always looking to take the tough fights, the risky fights. Wood, 26-2(16) and the reigning WBA featherweight champ, will make the second defence of his belt against Mexican dangerman Mauricio Lara in his home town of Nottingham on September 24.
Wood gave us an absolute thriller of a fight back in March, when he went through some seriously torrid trouble to eventually stop Michael Conlan, with Wood knocking his challenger out and through the ropes in the FOTY candidate. Now, against Lara, 24-2-1(17) there could be more fireworks.
Lara is no stranger to UK fight fans, the Mexican ruining the unbeaten record of Josh Warrington some months back (and then boxing a no-contest in the return). Now Lara will be looking to rip away Wood’s belt. Wood actually called for this fight not too long after the war with Conlan, never looking for any easy fights. Credit to Wood for doing all he can to prove he is the best at 126 pounds.
It looked as though Wood might fight another, more celebrated Mexican warrior in his next fight, in Leo Santa Cruz, but now Wood has Lara to contend with instead. Maybe, if he comes through unscathed on September 24, Wood vs. Santa Cruz can still happen.
For now, UK fight fans will be watching Wood against Lara, many of them nervously. Lara can crack, he is hungry, and in no way is Lara affected by a hostile crowd. Conlan caught Wood early in their sizzling fight, and Lara, who has no doubt seen the fight, will be looking to do the same. Wood may have to come through some hot stuff in this one.
Wood is the pick to win, but it won’t be easy. Or dull. Wood might wind up giving us two FOTY contenders here in 2022! There seems to be little chance this one goes all 12 rounds.