Leigh Wood always delivers late drama, but he’s eyeing an early finish against Mauricio Lara

After last-round knockouts in his last two fights, Lee Wood insists the game plan isn’t designed for the same result in Saturday’s featherweight title fight against Mauricio Lara.

Wood turned his career from a domestic loss to a WBA world title by winning his last three fights in the final rounds.

34-year-old Wood (26-2, 16 KOs) from Nottingham, England, has recovered from being knocked down in the first round and knocking Michael Conlan out of the ring in a brutal last-gasp victory nearly a year ago. It was Sportzshala’s 2022 fight of the year and also the knockout of the year.

And Wood created even more drama when he stopped Xu Jang just 17 seconds from victory in July 2021.

“Believe it or not, I don’t say, ‘Leave it on the 12th,’ but a lot of people think I do,” Wood told Sportzshala. “I spoke in front of Rhys Mold [in February 2021] fight that I was probably going to knock him out in the 9th round, which I did.

“Before the fight with Can Xu, I said that the accumulation will help him in the end, I will continue to fight back, and I am a big puncher. After all, accumulation did it.”

Against Conlan, Wood was behind on the scorecards when he lost to his opponent in the 11th round and then stopped him in the final round. Wood was behind 102-105, 103-104 and 103-104.

“In the fight with Michael Conlan it was more about picking up the pace, making him work more than he likes because he wastes a lot of energy trying to slip and roll with every punch being ineffective and I said I would get even said that if I had not knocked him out in the 12th round, I would have knocked him out in the 12th round, because I believed that rounds 10, 11 and 12 were my rounds to win the fight.

“When I went on the road, I wanted to leave a legacy, a history, and to win the fight of the year and become a winner was very special. This is also the merit of Michael.

Wood made a career change after joining Ben Davison, the former trainer of WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and WBO super lightweight champion Josh Taylor, ahead of a fight with Mold in February 2021. Wood believes that tactical and technical improvements under Davison led to the best results of his career.

“I already had a lot of attributes like great strength, but I was never going to throw, I was always jumping or in a bad position in the ring,” Wood said. “Ben figured it out and after I first started working with Ben I thought he was just testing me, but he wasn’t and that was how hard it was to train with him every week. It is this hard work that brings you victories.”

“My tick over is probably harder now than when I trained at full strength before. The main reason is game plans, my team breaks the opposition by reducing what they are good at and enhancing what I am good at.

Wood’s recent track record of creating spectacular knockouts matches the 24-year-old Lara (25-2-1, 18 KOs), who also rose from relative obscurity to the elite level when he traveled from Mexico to the UK and stopped Josh Warrington – then Sportzshala. No. 1 Featherweight – two years ago.

But Wood said, “I can’t stand next to him with my chin up and counter punching him. But at the same time, I go out to meet him in the middle of the ring. I know it’s explosive.” puncher, but most of the time he is reckless. In general, he has many shortcomings.

Wood is making his second defense of his belt at the same Nottingham Arena where he once attended former super middleweight champion Carl Froch’s title fights as a fan.

“When I was that little kid jumping up and down on the railing and yelling at Carl, I would look around and think, ‘One day I’ll fight here, I’ll be the headliner here,’” Wood said. “I have always been determined, even when I was 30, I did not win a prestigious boxing title, which is actually unheard of. confident that I would get there, I just wanted to get opportunities, and when they came to me, I took them.

Wood recalls May 2012, early in his professional career, when he was scheduled to fight on the undercard of Froch’s world super middleweight title victory over Lucian Bute at Nottingham Arena. Wood, who went to the same school as Froch, who is now retired, was involved in a card fight but missed the fight.

“I bought about £40,000 worth of tickets, I was devastated by not going out,” Wood said. “I warmed up three times and they tried to take me out before Carl, but I couldn’t fight because the other fights on the undercard were taking longer than I expected. I’m going to go to McDonald’s. When I got there, Carl was there with his family and said, “Come and eat with us.” It ended a night that didn’t start well, but it’s all right.”

Wood will be hoping that this Saturday night’s McDonald’s Gala Dinner will be on his account.


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