With Brian Webber: Eddie Hearn believes Leigh Wood will “flatten” Challenger Mauricio Lara this Saturday night when he defends his WBA featherweight title against the devastating puncher live on DAZN in front of an expected 8,000+ pro-Wood crowd at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, England.
The oddsmakers feel differently about Hearn, placing the 24-year-old Lara (25-2-1, 18 KOs) as 3-to-1 favorite over the 34-year-old Wood (26-2, 16 KOs) and it’s understandable why they’ve settled on those odds.
Wood is a bit long in the tooth, he is about to turn 35 and his punch resistance is not ideal to fight someone as young as strong as Lara.
Additionally, Wood’s fighting style is tailor-made for Lara, as he likes to go to war with his opponents and is the perfect guy for the Mexican to destroy.
If you were to create a fighter in a lab perfect for Lara to crush within four or five rounds, you’d end up with Wood. He’s the type of fighter who is vulnerable to the way Lara fights, and if Wood hasn’t been rejuvenated by his trainer Ben Davison, he won’t last long on Saturday night.
Davison will likely have Wood avoid exchanges with Lara, focus on staying outside, jabbing, moving, squeezing often and using his illegal straight-handed tactics.
Wood doesn’t have the engine to move for 12 rounds, so he’ll have to stand and fight Lara at some point. Likewise, pinning Lara won’t get the job done, and neither will the illegal straight arm we saw Wood use all night in his win over Can Xu in 2021.
The problem Wood has is that he’s never beaten anyone as good as Lara before, and he’s lost to fighters who weren’t as talented.
Wood’s best wins came against the aforementioned Can Xu and Michael Conlan. Since Wood arguably cheated his way to victory against Xu, it’s hard to give him credit for this win.
As for Wood’s win over Conlan, it was nothing special because the Irish fighter is not considered one of the best fighters in the 126-lb division. Also, Conlan was hitting the brakes on Wood for the first nine laps before disappearing in the championship rounds.
Lara came out of nowhere
“People, and rightly so at times, like to moan about boxing matches, and I have to say this is a strange match,” Eddie Hearn told iFL TV of Saturday’s fight between WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood and Mauricio. Lara.
“You have this Mauricio Lara guy, whether Josh Warrington was unlucky, and it was a bit behind closed doors and a bit about the whole situation. But this guy [Lara] it comes from nowhere in Mexico.
“Everybody knew he had potential, everybody knew he was a big puncher, but the thing you have to understand about Mexican boxing is that you get thrown into fights at the last minute because you can’t get a chance outside of your weight class. and you get hit.
“So Lara enters this fight [with Warrington in February 2021] with a couple of losses. So at first you look at the record and say, “It’s OK,” as Josh Warrington’s team did.
“They said, ‘Yeah, we’ll have him [Lara]. He’s a good fighter, but we think we can beat him.’ He comes in and puts on a wrecking ball show, and everyone goes, honestly, “F**k fighting Mauricio Lara.” That’s the general conversation.
“Promoters generally take the blame. If I went to Leigh Wood and [trainer] Ben Davison, I did it with names. I would like to honor this fight. I didn’t even push Mauricio Lara why I thought they would say, “Absolutely, no way.” I really thought [36-year-old] Kiko Martinez would be a good match [for Leigh Wood].
Team Wood believes they can win
“This was the first time. remember when it was canceled last year, and this time,” Hearn continued. “So I said to Ben Davison, ‘What about Kiko Martinez and Lee Wood?’ And he said, “What about Mauricio Lara?” I was like, “Are you kidding?” He says, “It’s a bigger fight and more money, and we’re thinking Ihe is just as dangerous as Kiko Martinez. We imagine we can defeat him.‘
“When I called Mauricio Lara’s team, I don’t think they could believe it. So they see something in this fight where they are very confident they can beat Mauricio Lara,” Hearn continued of Team Wood. “The reality is that he is [Wood] almost a 3-to-1 underdog to win at home in front of 8,000 fans in a volunteer defense.
“Sometimes you get a voluntary defense because somebody has huge trade value, and you almost give them the opportunity, and somebody has paid crazy money.
“Joshua vs. Charles Martin is a great example, where this was a voluntary defense for Charles Martin and we paid him a lot of money. It was a dangerous race for him but he believed he could win but the money was out of control.
“He, he [Wood] go “I think I can beat him. I like the challenge. So while I have to take some credit for making the match, you have to give this man a ton of credit. His profile is rising significantly in British boxing, but for the die-hards, who like to criticize, again, I don’t mind them giving him unspoken props for that, because you want fights like that, and he [Wood] chose him.
“Now, if it was mandatory, people say, ‘It’s mandatory. there is nothing he can do to escape it.’ He picked him, and it wasn’t even that he was under pressure from us or DAZN to fight Lara. He went, “I want Lara,” Hearn said.
Leigh can ‘straighten Mauricio Lara’
“Well, I think it’s a complete 50-50 match. I don’t agree with the odds one bit,” Hearn said. “You’re going to get an incredible fight. I do not know what will happen. Leigh Wood has incredible power, insidious power at times. He can flatten Mauricio Laraand Mauricio Lara can level Leigh Wood.
“I hope this goes rounds because if it goes rounds, you’re going to have a better fight than Conlan-Wood, but this could be over in four or five rounds at the same time,” Hearn said.