Mauricio Lara has been STRIPPED of his WBA featherweight title after failing to make weight by nearly four pounds ahead of his epic rematch showdown with Leigh Wood
- Mauricio Lara has been stripped of his featherweight title after missing weight
- The Mexican weighed 129.8lbs, which was 3.9lbs heavier than Leigh Wood
- The WBA featherweight title is now vacant, meaning only Wood can win the belt
Leigh Wood was left wrestling with a decision as to whether to go ahead with his challenge for the World Boxing Association featherweight title after champion Mauricio Lara failed to make the weight on the eve of this Saturday’s fight.
The Mexican will be stripped of his title after being ordered by British Board of Control doctors to halt a vain and dangerous attempt to drain himself down to the nine stone limit.
Wood had the option of accepting the 3.8 lbs weight disadvantage and going into the ring at the Manchester Arena in hope of a victory which would still see him crowned as a world champion for a second time.
Should Lara win, the title would be declared vacant.
Promoter Eddie Hearn was confident Wood and his trainer Ben Davision would agree to go ahead, even though the extra poundage might increase the punching power with which Lara knocked out Wood in February.
Mauricio Lara has been stripped of his featherweight title after missing weight today
The WBA featherweight title is now vacant, meaning only Wood can win the belt this weekend
Mexico’s Mauricio Lara won the first bout via a seventh round to claim the WBA featherweight title
Wood was already committed to defying the curse of the instant rematch – think Anthony Joshua against Olexsandr Usyk – as well as the biggest hitter in the featherweight division.
Whether there is still method to his madness we may yet discover in the Manchester Arena, just three months after Lara dropped him in in his tracks in his home-town Nottingham.
Wood offers a plausible argument for invoking the return clause in their contract by pointing to his lead on the cards in the first fight and claiming that his own mistake led to those scores being wiped out by the single punch which put an abrupt end to the argument in the seventh round.
‘I’d proved that I know how to beat him,’ he says of the undefeated Mexican, ‘before my error left me open to that big left hand.’ A punch so big, as it happens, that Davison threw in the towel even though Wood had wobbled to his feet and there were only a few seconds left in the round.
Hasty criticism of that intervention has given way to realisation that Davison saved his man to fight another day.
Whether or not this Saturday is the right day, is up to Wood to resolve. decide. What we know in advance is that the drama which gripped his last two fights has brought him out from under the boxing radar.
First, against Michael Conlan last year, he was the one way behind on the cards when he pulled out a through-the-ropes KO punch in the last round. Then came Lara in the minor epic which has propelled him to the big arena in Manchester, while still giving him virtual home-town advantage.
One mystery remaining is why Lara, having staggered Wood in the first two rounds in February, switched off for four rounds before finishing him off.
Did he take this opponent too lightly, or was he distracted by the presence at ringside of another English ex-world champion with whom he also tangled twice?
Lara, 24, poses with the WBA world featherweight title belt after beating Wood
Josh Warrington, having lost a non-title fight to Lara, was accused of head-butting his way to a technical draw in their rematch by inflicting a second round eye cut.
The Mexican disgraced himself by spitting in the ring after knocking out Wood but it transpired that ugly gesture was aimed not at his latest victim but at Warrington. Wood and Lara had been showing each other absolute respect, until the champion plunged their rivalry back into controversy.
The world featherweight plot thickens as Conlan tries to continue his comeback with a world title challenge in Belfast to Luis Alberto Lopez, another Mexican who relieved Warrington of the IBF belt in December. Warrington is hoping for a second chance against one of this weekend’s winners but in the more likely event of both Mexicans prevailing they will be looking to fight each other for the unified world championship.
On a hectic Saturday night for British boxing Chris Billam-Smith gets the fight he’s always craved in the Vitality Stadium he frequently attends as an avid Bournemouth supporter, by challenging fellow Brit Lawrence Okolie for the WBO world cruiserweight title. Chris The Gentleman is the underdog but his trainer Shane McGuigan believes he can unravel the long-armed Okolie’s octopus tendencies sufficiently to spring a knock-out surprise.
Lara v Wood will be televised live on DAZN; Lopez v Conlan live on BT Sport; Okolie v Billam-Smith live on Sky Sports. All this Saturday night.
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk