Leigh Wood didn’t waste a second to inform his team to immediately secure a second fight with Mauricio Lara.
There wasn’t a doubt in Wood’s mind that any other fight made as much sense as a straightaway rematch. The recently dethroned WBA featherweight titlist pushed promoter Eddie Hearn to make it happen and as quickly as possible. The pair of top-rated featherweights are prepared to run it back this weekend, just 13 weeks after Lara scored a come-from-behind seventh-round stoppage on February 18 in Wood’s hometown of Nottingham, England.
“Immediately after our first fight—and I’m talking seconds afterward—I already knew what I did wrong and what I don’t need to do in the rematch,” Wood told BoxingScene.com. “Above all that, when I fought Mauricio Lara the first time I had almost a year out of the ring. That is a long time.
“Now that I’ve gone through that, I feel like an active fighter again. It’s only going to benefit me. He was very active before our fight. I can’t wait. I’m confident and ready to go.”
Their scheduled twelve-round WBA featherweight title fight headlines a DAZN show this Saturday from AO Arena in Manchester.
The three-month turnaround is the quickest for Wood (26-3, 15KOs) since 2019, predating his run as a featherweight titlist. The combination of the pandemic, injuries and sanctioning body ridiculousness has seen Wood fight just five times in a three-year span ending with the defeat to Lara.
The two were due to meet last September, only for Wood to suffer an injury which forced a postponement of more than four months. The recovery process intersected with the WBA’s decision to resurrect earlier plans for a title consolidation bout—Wood held the WBA ‘Regular’ featherweight title while Leo Santa Cruz was the long inactive ‘Super’ titleholder.
Santa Cruz ultimately vacated the belt just prior to a purse bid hearing at the WBA annual convention last December.
The move allowed Wood to proceed with the rescheduled fight with Lara, who was permitted a stay busy fight last October and who’d been fairly active. Wood was ahead on all three scorecards before a left hook floored him late in round seven. He beat the count but head trainer Ben Davison literally threw in the towel to stop the fight.
It was at that exact moment when Wood told his team to get Lara back in the ring.
“Before the first fight, I hadn’t fought in almost a year. So I was basically spending all that time just studying Mauricio Lara,” stated Wood. “I knew everything about him, all the ins and outs. I showed it through five rounds. Then somewhere in round six, I got away from that game plan. I went from preparing for this big shots to just looking for those big shots.
“That will be different on Saturday and I’m just grateful we didn’t have to waste any time."