By Sean Crose
“Mauricio Lara lost the World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight belt after being unable to make weight today. However, Leigh Wood will be free to choose the title. So said the WBA on Friday after Lara proved he was almost four pounds overweight ahead of Saturday’s fight with Leigh Wood in Manchester, at England’s AO Arena. The development certainly takes some air out of the long-awaited rematch, but that’s about Lara. Don’t expect Lara’s weight – or anything else – to keep Wood from going bankrupt when he takes on the man who stripped him of his WBA featherweight title last winter.
“I’m ready to get that belt back and look good doing it,” Wood told the media. “Without any doubt, I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy fight because it may be far from an easy fight, but I’m prepared for whatever it brings. The first round was difficult because we couldn’t look at his style against my style, now we have that information and we know what he does when I do certain things. The truth is, Wood looked impressive when he first faced Lara…that is, until Lara put an exclamation mark on things with his star left hook.
“No matter what happens on Saturday night, I will be victorious,” said Wood. “It motivates me, I can’t lose. I can’t afford to lose. This could be the end of the road for me. It’s a long way back. That’s why I don’t think about losing, I did everything in my power to win. I’m sure of winning. I know what I have to do to win. I know what I can’t afford.”
However, it is unusual for a rematch of this kind to take place less than three months after the first fight. “It’s a quick turnaround,” admits Wood, “but it benefits me. If you had told me when I won the world title, ‘okay, you’re retiring in 13 weeks, you need to get back to the gym’, I would have said ‘woah Eddie, come on. I’m celebrating’. So I think it’s something that’s good for me. I went back to training right away.
In the current situation, Leigh is only a few hours away from reclaiming the WBA belt. All he has to do is defeat Lara first. However, that will be easier said than done.