Two of the best featherweights in the world will collide when Leigh Wood defends his WBA championship against Mauricio Lara at the Nottingham Arena on February 18. The 12-round bout, plus undercard action, will be broadcast exclusively by DAZN.
Wood, who is rated No. 6 by The Ring at 126lbs, is coming off a spectacular 12-round knockout of Michael Conlan last March. Given the ferocity of that contest, the amiable Englishman would have been forgiven for opting for an easy touch, but he isn’t fazed by his Mexican opponent’s fearsome reputation.
“From the outside looking in, he looks very dangerous,” acknowledged Wood in an interview with Matchroom Boxing. “There’s a lot of things he does good, and he is dangerous, but there’s a lot of things he does very poorly. You can’t get away with that at this level against the right fighter.
“He won’t have to come looking for me. I’m going to be right in from of him. I’ll meet him in the middle of the ring.”
MORE: Watch Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara on DAZN
Lara, who is rated No. 4 by The Ring, made his bones at the expense of Josh Warrington in February 2021. The Mexico City star landed on U.K. shores as an underdog but tore up the script with a jolting ninth-round knockout. However, while Lara had posted a career-defining triumph, there was no world title at stake. Warrington had vacated the IBF crown prior to the bout, so Lara’s hunger for world title glory remains visceral.
“We know Leigh Wood is a great champion, but I have big aspirations and a great desire to become world champion,” said Lara. “Whatever it takes, I have to do it this time. I like challenges to take big fights and this is one of them.
“I’m grateful to him for taking this fight. We know nobody wants to face me at 126lbs for a world title. But this one will happen and we know what we’re capable of doing.”
The Sporting News now reviews the betting odds and makes an official pick on the main event.
Odds for Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara
Per Sky Bet, Lara is a -225 favourite, while Wood is the +200 underdog. The draw is +1200.
Per Caesars, Lara is the -240 favourite, while Wood is the +200 underdog.
In Canada, per Sports Interaction, Lara is the -270 favourite, while Wood is the +194 underdog. The draw is +1400.
MORE: All you need to know about Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara
Betting trends for Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara
- Wood via KO/TKO: +350
- Wood via decision: +600
- Lara via KO/TKO: -188
- Lara via decision: +750
- Draw: +1400
Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara prediction, best bets
This is a very hard fight to predict.
Lara’s reputation as a fierce knockout artist precedes him. The Mexican star was devastating in that first fight against Warrington, and he’s looked very dangerous since. He can be crude, but his power is fight-ending, so the -188 odds for a stoppage are tempting.
However, Wood has developed the habit of making fools of us all. He was the underdog against Xu Can and Michael Conlan, but performed brilliantly against both to score stoppage wins.
Wood is the better boxer and he’s the more versatile fighter of the two. The Englishman switched southpaw to knock out Reece Mould with a devastating combination. He finessed Xu Can over 12 rounds, scoring repeatedly with sharp combinations and controlling distance. Against Conlan, Wood turned aggressor and wore his man down with an energy-sapping assault.
He knows exactly what to expect from the heavy-hitting Lara, and will have plans A, B, and C.
MORE: How to bet on combat sports
Both men have suffered stoppage defeats. Wood succumbed to a TKO 6 loss at the hands of Gavin McDonnell in 2014, and Lara was taken out in a round by the unheralded Eliot Chavez in May 2018. We shouldn’t read into those setbacks too much because both fighters have shown durability since and risen to the world level.
Sometimes you just have a feeling about how a fight will play out. Wood is at home and he’s dependable over the long haul. Given his opponent’s pop, it’s a risky one, but I think (+600) for a decision win is very enticing.
Sporting News prediction: Wood via unanimous decision
Leigh Wood record and bio
- Nationality: British
- Born: August 1, 1988
- Height: 5-7
- Reach: 67
- Total fights: 28
- Record: 26-2 (16 KOs)
Mauricio Lara record and bio
- Nationality: Mexican
- Born: February 23, 1998
- Height: 5-7
- Reach: N/A
- Total fights: 28
- Record: 25-2-1 (18 KOs)
Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara fight card
- Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara, for Wood’s WBA featherweight championship
- Dalton Smith vs. Billy Allington, for Smith’s British super lightweight title
- Gary Cully vs. Wilfredo Flores, lightweight
- Gamal Yafai vs. Diego Alberto Ruiz, super bantamweight
- Keiron Conway vs. Jorge Silva, super middleweight