The Mexican invasion kicks off this Saturday with a double drop in what should be action-packed matchups, giving fans in Manchester, Belfast and around the world plenty to rejoice about. In one of two intriguing featherweight bouts, a rematch between Mauricio Lara and Leigh Wood awaits.
(Image credit: Conlan Boxing)
Earlier this year in February, these two had a blast, so expect this second fight to be a continuation starting in the 8th round if you prefer. We have fresh blood in the second bout at 126 pounds this Saturday when Luis Alberto Lopez faces challenger Michael Conlan. Almost 50-50 on the betting books when it comes to boxing, and you could argue for any of them. As a reminder, Lara/Wood will air live on DAZN and Lopez/Conlan will air on ESPN+ in America.
Let’s start with the second meeting for Mauricio Lara and Leigh Wood. Leigh was on all three scorecards until a left hook trade sent Wood crashing to the canvas. Wood boxed nicely outside and from a distance after some shaky moments in the 1st and 2nd rounds. Lara, unsurprisingly, was a busier boxer who, according to Compubox, landed 275 punches, compared to 227. That said, Lara only managed to land one punch more than Wood’s 89 to 88. Mauricio has a way of baiting and/or coercing his opponent into a fight.
The key for Wood is to stick to the script and try to limit back and forth attacks at close range. Sometimes getting to a deadlock quickly would be smart, which boxing fans hate when that happens. Mauricio has already proven that he can take Leigh’s best shots, so it’s safe to assume that Lara will want to hunt her prey early and often. The boxing podcaster believes it will be a case of rinsing and repeating, meaning Wood will still be successful but will end up the same, perhaps even sooner. Another fun fight regardless of the outcome.
My official prediction is Mauricio Lara before a 9th round stoppage.
After getting off to a fast start in the prospective part of his career, Michael Conlan was losing some steam as a contender until he defeated TJ Doheny in 2021. Conlan not only showed that he can look good on the outside by boxing well. He flashed with the ability to get the job done from within, aiming heavy arrows at the body. In March 2022, Conlan eliminated Leigh Wood in the first round. He began to dominate in the second round and managed to pass Wood until the seventh round. The two boxers traded rounds until Conlan, who landed 25 to 13 in the 11th, was knocked down. Wood then finished off Conlan in a terrifying yet spectacular fashion, throwing him out of the ring in what many considered the KO of the year.
Ever since Luis Alberto Lopez lost a decision to the more than capable Ruben Villa, he’s had a winning streak that peaked late last year with a win over Josh Warrington. Lopez was able to defeat the two in a fierce 8-round fight. However, Warrington turned up the volume of the punch, delivering a fun but gritty finish to the episode. Along the way, Lopez also had solid victories over Andy Vances, much touted undefeated prospect Gabriel Flores Jr. and Isaac Lowe.
While Conlan will have to fight in the trenches at times, he is best served by a jab that takes advantage of his reach. Trying to crush victory in an internal battle where everyone takes and takes generally does not bode well. Even dirty, some would say a dirty fighter in the form of Josh Warrington couldn’t stop Lopez from winning the 10th round after clearly losing the previous round. A pick fight, if it ends in a draw and Micheal Conlan stays upright, will favor the home side’s talent. Keep an eye (no pun intended) on Luis Alberto’s left eye, which has been cut more than once in recent years. The body hooks (left hook in particular) will create holes in the head that Lopez will cash in enough to technically pull off a very minor upset. Lopez is anywhere from +100 to topping out at +110.
My official prediction is Luis Alberto Lopez by split decision. Link to the podcast:
Side note: Also on Sky Sports on Saturday, Lawrence Okolie vs. Chris Billiam-Smith. Okolie will win the early rounds after the jab, but look for Billiam-Smith to at least pick up some good two-way stuff. Another one to look out for is DAZN in the US, on the Alexis Rocha vs. Anthony Young and Oscar Collazo vs. Melvin Johnson. My predictions: Okolie, Rocha and Collazo win.
Written by Chris Carlson, host/producer of The Rope The Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio