Matchroom Boxing will kick off 2023 with a bang as Leigh Wood defends his WBA Featherweight World Title on February 18 in his hometown of Nottingham against Mexican bogeyman, Mauricio Lara.
The pair were set to fight late last year, however a training injury to Wood’s hand forced him to pull out. Lara has maintained that the Brit was ducking him – something this announcement proves wrong.
Wood won the belt by stopping Can Xu in 2021, and successfully defended it against Michael Conlan in what many branded the fight of 2022. Having been dropped early in Nottingham, Wood weathered the storm against the slick Irishman to produce a scary knockout in the twelfth.
Now, not content to have any easy touches, Matchroom Boxing have announced that Wood (26-2, 16 KOs) has delivered on his promise to face Lara (25-2, 18 KOs). The champion said it’s personal.
“Mauricio Lara has made things personal between us with the disrespect he showed me regarding my injury and my country. I’m going to show him what I’m all about. See you on February 18 Nottingham – And Still!”
Lara is well known up north. He arrived during lockdown a relatively new presence to many fans, but proceeded to punish Josh Warrington to a stoppage. In their scheduled rematch, he was performing well before a cut around his left eye from a head clash forced the referee to wave the contest off and call it a draw.
The Mexican has believed ever since that he’s deserving of a title shot, and not many fans would disagree. He told Matchroom that he was confident.
“I have been waiting for this opportunity for 2 years and I am not going to waste it. In February 2021 I beat Warrington in England, now in 2023 I will do the same with Wood.
The WBA 126lbs World Title goes to Mexico, that I promised to my daughter, my family, my team and to my whole country. Your time has come Leigh Wood, no “injury” can save you now from this.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn aptly described it as a fight you will have to ‘watch through your fingers.’
The pair have 34 knockouts between them, and are well known to go looking for the stoppage rather than opting to rack up points. With the added animosity, not many punters will be picking this one to go the distance. The fight is being billed as ‘Dance with the Devil.’
The action will be broadcast live on DAZN worldwide, with the undercard set to be announced soon and tickets on sale from Thursday January 12.