Wood: "I’ll Meet Him In The Middle Of The Ring,
I Can’t See It Reaching The Halfway Point"
Leigh Wood has promised to meet Mauricio Lara “in the middle
of the ring” and has boldly predicted that their highly
anticipated WBA Featherweight World Title clash at the
Motorpoint Arena Nottingham this Saturday, shown live
worldwide on DAZN (excluding Australia and New Zealand),
won’t reach the halfway point.
Nottingham’s ‘Leigh-thal’ (26-2, 16 KOs) returns to the
scene of his stunning 12th round knockout win over Ireland’s
Michael Conlan last March to put his WBA crown on the line
for the second time against a man few have opted to face –
Mexico City’s dangerous knockout artist Lara (25-2-1, 18
‘Bronco’ arrives on these shores for the third time with a
fearsome reputation, having famously wiped-out former IBF
Featherweight World Champion Josh Warrington in nine rounds
in a sensational upset behind closed doors in February 2021,
ending the Leeds fighter’s unbeaten record.
Wood, who picked up multiple Fight of the Year awards for
his sensational scrap with Conlan, has accused Lara of
making things personal between them following his injury
jibes, and the 34-year-old believes he can expose his
opponent's weaknesses on the biggest stage of all.
“From the outside looking in he looks very dangerous,”
admitted Wood. “He got that devastating win over Josh
Warrington. There’s a lot of things he does well and he is
dangerous, but in the same hand there’s a lot of things that
he does very poorly. You can’t get away with that at this
level with the right fighter.
“He doesn’t have to come looking for me, I’m going to be
right in front of him. I’ll meet him in the middle of the
ring. When he walks into the ring he’s going to be met with
a very hostile crowd. No one is going to walk into
Nottingham and walk through me – it’s not going to happen. I
can’t see it reaching the halfway point, and I will win by
“There was never going to be another fight. It was always
going to be Mauricio Lara next. He’s said a few things which
made it quite personal. He said that I faked my injury and
he said that all the English are running away scared."
Victory on Saturday potentially sets up a dream World Title
defence for Gedling’s Wood at the City Ground – home to his
beloved Nottingham Forest Football Club. The chance to
become the first ever fighter to headline at the famous old
stadium gives Wood all of the extra motivation he needs.
“Over the years things change, you don’t always want what
you wanted when you started. Some things do stay the same.
It was winning the British Title, boxing for and hopefully
winning a World Title and the third thing is to fight at the
City Ground. Now I’ve just got one more thing to do – win
this fight and I believe it’s done.
“The people down at the ground have really got behind me my
past few fights. It’s going to be a special atmosphere this
fight. It’s going to be even better. Last time it was split
with the Nottingham lot and the Irish – this time it’s
predominantly going to be the Nottingham fans. They’ll be
singing and making lots of noise – it’s going to be
Wood vs. Lara headlines Matchroom's first show of the year
in the UK, Sheffield star Dalton Smith (13-0, 10 KOs) makes
the second defence of his British Super-Lightweight Title
against Billy Allington (10-1-4), Irish Lightweight hope
Gary Cully (15-0, 9 KOs) takes on the USA’s Wilfredo Flores
(10-0-1, 5 KOs) for the vacant WBA Intercontinental Title,
Gravesend Cruiserweight Cheavon Clarke (4-0, 4 KOs) fights
late replacement Israel Duffus (20-8, 17 KOs), former
European Super-Bantamweight Champion Gamal Yafai (19-2, 11
KOs) begins 2023 with a ten-rounder against Argentina’s
Diego Alberto Ruiz (23-6-1, 12 KOs), Northampton’s Kieron
Conway (18-3-1, 4 KOs) meets Portugal’s Jorge Silva (21-7,
12 KOs) over eight rounds at Super-Middleweight, Rotherham
Super-Welterweight talent Junaid Bostan (4-0, 4 KOs) fights
for the third time under the Matchroom banner, popular
Mansfield Super-Bantamweight Nico Leivars (3-0-1) squares
off against Spain’s Alberto Motos (2-0) over six rounds,
Commonwealth Super-Lightweight Champion Sam Maxwell (16-1,
11 KOs) faces Shaun Cooper (13-4) over six rounds and
Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Aaron Bowen makes his
professional debut at Middleweight against Mathieu Gomes
(5-4, 5 KOs).