Editors note: Mauricio Lara was not allowed by the British Boxing Board of Control that he was not allowed to make the featherweight limit earlier in the week due to concerns over his pre-fight weight. Leigh Wood is now only eligible to win the WBA title this weekend.
While some of you are still stewing in the wake of last weeks decision between lightweight champion, Devin Haney, and Vasiliy Lomachenko, the boxing schedule marches forward. And the last weekend of May features a pair of featherweight title fights that see two Mexican's going back to the UK to defend their titles.
Both are champions, and both are hitting the road for a very simple reason -- that's where the money is.
Have belt, will travel.
From the SSE Arena in Belfast, Ireland (ESPN+O), Luis Alberto Lopez puts his IBF belt on the line versus hometown favorite, Michael Conlan.
Back in December, 'el Venado' captured this title with a tight majority decision over Josh Warrington. Now he goes into what should be a rabid atmosphere against Conlan. The rugged 29-year old from Mexicali understands the dynamic at play this weekend.
“I want to show that I am a true champion. I’ve always been the ‘B side’ throughout my entire career, beating prospects," said Lopez, who came into prominence as he defeated Gabe Flores Jr and Isaac Lowe in consecutive fights in 2020. "Now as a world champion I’m going to do more of the same. I want to finish Michael Conlan and then face the other world champions.”
For guys like him, they have to put the 'world in 'world champion.'
“I am used to this. I’ve fought in the United States. I’ve already fought in the United Kingdom two times. I am used to them not wanting me to win. Everyone wants to see me lose, but let’s not forget that I am the champion," he reminds everyone.
“They always say the same thing. They say they’re going to beat me, that they’re going to knock me out, that I’m going to look foolish, that they’re going to send me to go play soccer. They have told me everything. But at the end of the day, when we’re both in the ring, nothing of what they say ever happens.”
In Conlan, he is facing a boxer who was 'thisclose' to winning a major world title last year. He entered the final round versus Leigh Wood with a lead on the scorecard, and was then knocked out of the ring, and out, in what was one of the most dramatic fights of 2022. He was so close, yet so far away from acheiving his dream.
To his credit, he dusted himself off and rebounded with two victories to cap off the year.
“I’m expecting the best Luis Alberto Lopez," said the 31-year old, who understands that opportunities such as these are finite. " I think he’s going to bring everything. He is going to be in the best condition. He’s going to try to knock me out, so I’m prepared for everything he’s going to try to do.”
Lopez is an awkward and dogged sort, after coming so close last year, Conlan believes he'll get over the finish line on Saturday.
“He says his plan is to end things quickly. But I know he’s changed trainers a few times throughout this training camp. There are probably other things going on with him, so I don’t think he truly believes that. He has to say that for the cameras. And that’s okay. That’s no problem. I respect him as a fighter, but on Saturday night, I will be champion.”
Meanwhile at the Manchester Arena (DAZN) the rematch between WBA champion, Maurcio Lara, and Leigh Wood takes place. Back in February at the Nottingham Arena, Wood was seemingly in control as he built up a solid lead on the scorecards after six rounds.
Then near the end of the seventh, Lara uncorked a left hook that sent Wood crashing to the canvas. This was no flash knockdown.
After he wobbled to his feet, and he took the mandatory eight count from referee, Michael Alexander, Wood's trainer, Ben Davison, made the decision to throw in the towel. Many have questioned that move but nobody knows his own fighter like his own cornerman. Also, having a rematch clause may have made that an easier call for him.
Keep this in mind, while Wood did get stopped, he was the technically superior boxer in their first encounter. He just made the fatal mistake of hooking with a hooker.
"It's a reminder for me," Wood told BBC East Midlands Today. "I was doing the right things, I did what I practiced, I stuck to my gameplan and I made a little mistake and paid the price - it cost me the fight."
Should he box in a disciplined fashion, it's certainly not out of the question that Wood can even the score and reclaim his title. "I want to make it so clear-cut this time," he stated.
But while Wood attempts to re-write history, the hard-hitting Lara promises to repeat it.
“It is gonna be a good fight. We know now what [Wood] is capable of. It was a great experience but this rematch will be different because I have prepared myself better than ever and it will show May 27th. I’ll try to KO him faster this time" he insisted.
Lara's message to Wood at the final press conference was blunt as the left he hit him with back a few months ago:"I will also say he is not gonna take back from me something I worked so hard to get, since I was eight years old. He is not going to take that away from me.”
In the wake of their bitter defeat last weekend, Lomachenko's camp has asked all the major sanctioning bodies to rank Lomachenko the number one contender to Haney, and make him the mandatory contender. Here is one of the letter penned by his manager, Egis Klimas, to the WBA....
Not sure what this will bring about. Never in the history of boxing has a decision ever really been overturned, and unfortunately, the pay-per-view probably didn't perform well enough for their to be an economic reason to do a rematch.
Yes, it is now official, signed, sealed and delivered, the undisputed welterweight crown will be on the line on July 29 as Errol Spence (WBA, WBC and IBF) will face Terence Crawford (WBO) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
There will be plenty of time to talk about this match-up as we head into the summer.
K2 Promotions won the purse bid for the heavyweight title bout between Oleksandr Usyk and Daniel Dubois with an offering of just more than $8 million. Look for this contest to take place on August 12 in Poland....Alexis Rocha headlines a Golden Boy Promotions card this Saturday night from Fantasy Springs....Unified light heavyweight champion, Artur Beterbiev, will face Callum Smith on August 19 in Quebec City.... Can you believe we are coming upon the series finale of 'Succession'?......