Boxing Picks – Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara

By Betmaker Team

The WBA featherweight championship will be up for grabs this weekend when Leigh Wood defends the title against challenger Mauricio Lara. Wood (26-2 with 16 knockouts) has already made one title defense, but he is a moderate underdog against Lara (25-2-1 with 18 knockouts) according to the boxing betting odds. Originally, these two fighters were supposed to face off on September 24, 2022, but Wood was forced to bow out of the fight less than two weeks before fight night after suffering a torn biceps.


Leigh Wood will defend his WBA featherweight title against Mauricio Lara on Saturday, February 18, 2023. Wood will have home fighter advantage since this will take place at Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, England.


Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara Betting Odds at BetRivers Sportsbook

Leigh Wood +200
Mauricio Lara -278
Total Rounds: 6.5


Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara Preview


Although Leigh Wood is currently the WBA featherweight champion, he is not considered one of the top three featherweights in the world by ESPN, BoxRec, The Ring, or the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. Wood turned pro back in October 2011, and he won his first 11 fights on his way to winning a couple minor titles. However, he suffered a sixth-round TKO defeat at the hands of Gavin McDonnell with the British super bantamweight belt on the line.


That convincing loss led to Wood falling down into the next tier of contenders. He had to prove himself all over again, and he had to climb the ladder once more with multiple fights against tomato cans before getting another shot to earn some bling. Wood ended up claiming the Commonwealth featherweight belt on March 2019, and he defended the title once before taking part in The Golden Contract for the right to sign a lucrative contract with MTK Global.


We saw Wood beat David Oliver Joyce in the ninth round by TKO to win the WBO European featherweight belt, but he lost the title and was knocked out of the tournament by eventual champion Jazza Dickens a few months later.


Bet-Rivers-Banner-Sep-29-2022-03-57-25-53-PM-4Despite that loss, he had made enough of a name for himself to earn a title shot against Xu Can in summer 2021. Wood was a significant underdog per the boxing betting line, but he ended up securing a 12th round TKO. He defended his title against Michael Conlan last March, and he nearly lost the belt. Wood was down to Conlan entering the 12th round on all three judges’ scorecards, but he was able to first knock down and then knock out his opponent to keep the strap.


Mauricio Lara is considered the best featherweight in the world by ESPN and the TBRB. Lara is one of the rare elite boxers that lost in his debut professional fight, but he has slowly turned the corner as he has matured. Although he was knocked out in the first round by Eliot Chavez after reeling off 11 straight wins, Lara didn’t give up and refocused his efforts.


So far in his career, Lara has fought a lot of relative unknowns. However, he did take on a very respected fighter when Lara faced two-time world featherweight champion Josh Warrington. Lara was a massive underdog according to the pre-fight betting odds, but he outperformed his opponent. The up and comer poured on the punishment and eventually secured a ninth round TKO. There was an automatic rematch clause in their contract, so they fought again several months later, but the fight was called after the second round. There was an accidental head butt, but the corner was unable to stop Lara from bleeding.


Following that disappointing result, Lara went back south of the border for his next two fights prior to this one.


Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara Prediction


Both these fighters are 5’7 with a 67-inch reach so no boxer has an advantage when it comes to the tale of the tape. However, it seems a little odd that Lara is such a favorite after one great performance against Warrington. While Wood has been shaky in his last two fights, he has more seasoning, so he is worth backing as a sizeable underdog this weekend.