Repeat or revenge? Lara and Wood collide again (Picture: Mark Robinson Matchroom)
Leigh Wood is adamant a tight turnaround will benefit him more than Mauricio Lara when the two collide in their world title rematch on Saturday.
Back home in Nottingham in February, Wood looked to be on his way to defending his WBA featherweight title against the hard-hitting Mexican.
All that good work was undone in a flash in the seventh round, floored by a savage left hook. Climbing back to his feet, he was desperate to carry on. Trainer Ben Davison disagreed and the towel came in to save his man for another day.
One week later, he was back in the gym having activated a rematch clause to set up Saturday’s reunion in Manchester. As is often the case in boxing after a heavy defeat, Wood was urged by some to take some time to regroup and take a warm-up fight before revisiting the Lara fight later in the year.
There was no chance of that happening.
‘It was something I had to put right straight away. The fast turnaround was the best thing for me,’ Wood told Metro.co.uk.
‘It benefits me way more than him. I wanted the rematch on the night. From Lara’s side, picking up your first world title only to be told you are fighting again in 12 weeks… you want to celebrate! Go on holiday, enjoy the moment, you have just achieved your lifelong dream and you haven’t had time to celebrate it.
Wood was dropped with a devastating shot in the seventh round (Picture: Getty)
‘Maybe that’s a factor with him. I had a week away with the kids after the fight and was right back in the gym.’
Wood celebrated that crowning moment himself in July 2021, knocking out Can Xu in the final round to pick up the WBA belt and defending it in that jaw-dropping showdown against Michael Conlan eight months later.
Lara ended that run and took the title with another devastating job on a British fighter on UK soil. With both men throwing the the same left hook, Wood left himself open just enough for the visiting fighter to claim another huge scalp.
Wood has replayed the moment dozens of times, both in his own head and as a part of the exhaustive analysis led by head trainer Davison.
Picking apart the Mexican has been an ongoing project since last July when their fight was first announced, delayed last September after Wood suffered an injury in training. While he felt the full force his power earlier this year, there is a clear game plan and ‘bad habits’ in the champion have been identified.
Lara back in the UK as a world champion (Picture: Getty)
‘You can’t go in with the same approach every time, there have been slight adjustments but nothing major,’ he said. ‘The key is to keep him under that constant pressure, be a constant threat. I was waiting too long at times …read more