Leigh Wood is set for a brave defence of his WBA world title as he faces featherweight bogeyman, Mauricio Lara, in Nottingham on Saturday night.
The fight has been promoted as the ‘Dance with the Devil’, where Wood will be the underdog against the Mexican but will be hoping to please his hometown crowd as he tops an impressive bill at the Motorpoint Arena.
Kieron Conway vs Jorge Silva – super middleweight
Fresh from defeat to Ammo Williams, Kieron Conway (18-3-1) will be looking to get back into the winning column, up against Portugal’s Jorge Silva (21-7). Despite being 39-years-old, Silva has strung together five successive knockout victories, albeit against lessor opposition, ahead of his first foray into the world of British boxing. Meanwhile, 26-year-old Conway will be looking to prove that he is capable of fighting at the world level after a spirited performance against Williams in his last outing.
Gamal Yafai vs. Diego Alberto Ruiz – super bantamweight
Another man aiming to climb the rankings this year is Gamal Yafai (19-2), who previously held the European Super-Bantamweight title. After the rapid rise of his flyweight brother, Galal, ‘The Beast’ will be hoping to improve on his own activity, having fought just four times since 2018, and kicks off 2023 with a tough fight against Diego Alberto Ruiz (23-6-1), who managed to draw with Lee McGregor last year.
Cheavon Clarke vs Israel Duffus – cruiserweight
Cheavon Clarke (4-0) is another of Matchroom’s most promising fighters, but at 32 years of age he will have to move quickly if he is to challenge at the top of the division. Having entered the professional game with a strong amateur pedigree, Clarke has made the perfect start to life as a pro, scoring three knockouts in his debut year with the last two coming over opponents with winning records. He will face Panama’s Israel Duffus (20-8).
Gary Cully vs Wilfredo Flores – lightweight
Ireland’s Gary Cully (15-0) is now considered to be a genuine threat to the lightweight world title. The tall southpaw aims to continue his four-fight knockout streak in what looks to be the highlight of the undercard. ‘The Diva’ will fight undefeated American Wilfredo Flores (10-0-1) for the WBA Inter-Continental title, in a clash which will see the victor progress up the WBA rankings (Cully ranked #13), in preparation to mount a title charge over the next couple of years.
Dalton Smith vs Billy Allington – British super lightweight title
Dalton Smith (13-0) looks to be living up to his high potential after a breakthrough year in 2022. Smith fought four times last year, including a British super lightweight title win and a first defence of the historic belt. His opponent, Billy Allington (10-1-4), won the English title last year before a disappointing draw against Ben Fields in November – but an upset victory over Smith would get the 28-year-old’s career back on track in what will undoubtedly be his toughest fight to date.
Full running order
- Leigh Wood vs Mauricio Lara – WBA world featherweight title
- Dalton Smith vs Billy Allington – British super lightweight title
- Gary Cully vs Wilfredo Flores – lightweight
- Cheavon Clarke vs Israel Duffus – cruiserweight
- Gamal Yafai vs Diego Alberto Ruiz – super bantamweight
- Aaron Bowen vs Mathieu Gomes – middleweight
- Junaid Boston vs Peter Kramer – super welterweight
- Kieron Conway vs Jorge Silva – super middleweight
- Sam Maxwell vs Shaun Cooper – super lightweight
Wood vs Lara – WBA world featherweight title
Finally comes the mouth-watering clash between Wood (26-2) and Lara (25-2-1), in an encounter that almost everyone believes will not go to the judges. Wood’s last fight, against Michael Conlan, won both the Fight of the Year and Knockout of the Year awards, with a dramatic twelfth round stoppage being the crowning moment of Wood’s career thus far.
The Brit’s last five stoppages have come between the ninth and twelfth round, whilst Lara is the traditionally fast starter who shocked the world in his brutal victory over Josh Warrington in 2021.
Since his no-contest rematch with Warrington, ‘Bronco’ has recorded two third-round stoppages and will be expected to be quick out of the blocks as he looks to ambush Wood and emulate his performance in his first fight with ‘The Leeds Warrior’.
The bad blood between the hometown hero and the 24-year-old Mexican makes this one a must-see for fight fans around the world.
How to watch and ring walk time
The event will be streamed globally on DAZN, with Wood and Lara set to make their ring walks around 10:15pm (GMT).