Featherweight Wood set for hometown title defense against Lara
On another British card, lightweight sensation Azim headlines
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Leigh Wood will defend the WBA featherweight title against Mauricio Lara in the main event of a Matchroom Boxing card on Feb. 18 (DAZN) at Motorpoint Arena in his hometown of Nottingham, England, the promoter announced on Monday.
The fight will be Wood’s first defense since “super” titleholder Leo Santa Cruz vacated last month rather than making a long overdue mandatory defense against Wood, who was left as the lone WBA beltholder in the weight class.
He will make his first defense since retaining the secondary title in a dramatic 12th-round comeback knockout of Michael Conlan, whom he spectacularly ejected from the ring, on March 12, also at Motorpoint Arena. Coincidently, Wood-Conlan was announced on Monday as the winner of the 2022 Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight of the year award by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Wood (26-2, 16 KOs), 34, and Lara (25-2-1, 18 KOs), 24, of Mexico, were previously scheduled to fight on Sept. 24, but it was canceled when Wood suffered a torn biceps and then was ordered to face Santa Cruz.
“Mauricio Lara has made things personal between us with the disrespect he showed me regarding my injury and my country,” Wood said. “I’m going to show him what I’m all about. See you on Feb. 18 Nottingham.”
Lara burst on the world scene when he was hand-picked out of obscurity to face Josh Warrington, who had given up his featherweight, in his hometown of Leeds, England in February 2021. Lara battered Warrington and knocked him out in the ninth round in a huge upset. The immediate rematch was declared a second-round technical draw when Lara was cut by an accidental head butt and unable to continue.
Lara has won two fights since by knockout, most recently drilling Jose Sanmartin in the third round in October in Mexico City, and now will get a world title shot.
“I have been waiting for this opportunity for two years and I am not going to waste it,” Lara said. “In February 2021 I beat Warrington in England. Now in 2023 I will do the same with Wood. The WBA 126-pound 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.”
Azim back in action
Another British card was also announced on Monday as Boxxer unveiled details of a card on Feb. 11 (Sky Sports in the U.K.) at OVO Wembley Arena in London.
On that card, red-hot lightweight prospect Adam Azim will fight Nicaragua’s Santos Reyes (12-0, 3 KOs), in the 10-round main event.
The 20-year-old Azim (7-0, 6 KOs) will be headlining for the second time. The first time was in an electrifying second-round knockout of Rylan Charlton on Nov. 27, also in London.
The card will also include British lightweight Caroline Dubois (5-0, 4 KOs), 21, a 2020 Olympian, against Yamila Belen Abellaneda (15-5-1, 3 KOs), 29, of Argentina; British middleweight Tyler Denny (15-2-3, 0 KOs), 31, against countryman Brad Pauls (16-0, 9 KOs), 29, in a 10-rounder; and cruiserweight up-and-comer Viddal Riley (7-0, 4 KOs), 25, of England, against Anees Taj (7-2, 5 KOs), 26, of England.
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Looking forward to Wood v Lara!!!!
great fight! Bronco Lara is a bad man!!