Mauricio Lara v Leigh Wood: Mexican misses weight and is stripped of world title

3 min read

Leigh Wood could still fight for the vacant title on Saturday

Mexico’s Mauricio Lara has been stripped of his WBA featherweight belt after he was unable to make the weight for his title fight against Leigh Wood.

Wood made the nine-stone limit but his team has cast doubt about the fight taking place on Saturday in Manchester.

Promoter Eddie Hearn has suggested the bout will go ahead, with Wood still eligible to fight for the title.

Wood’s trainer Ben Davison said: “I can’t sit here and say we 100% rule out the fight not taking place.”

After a weight check on Wednesday, the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) raised concerns about how heavy the champion was and did not want Lara cutting weight below 9st 2.5lbs.

It meant Lara had to stop his weight cut and he tipped the scales at 9st 3.8lbs on Friday.

Wood could remain eligible to win the belt he lost to Lara in February if the rematch goes ahead.

The Englishman was stopped in the seventh round of their first fight.

Meanwhile, Terri Harper’s hastily re-arranged world title defence is on track, after England’s WBA light-middleweight champion made weight for her fight against Croatia’s Ivana Habazin.

Harper fights on the undercard in Manchester, with Jack Catterall’s light-welterweight contest against Darragh Foley the chief support.

Wood is not the only Briton in world title action this weekend, with Lawrence Okolie and Chris Billam-Smith also fighting in Bournemouth.

Bournemouth local Billam-Smith challenges Londoner Okolie for the WBO cruiserweight title at the Vitality Stadium and there was no such weight drama on a sun-drenched Bournemouth Pier.

The former sparring partners weighed the same at 14st 3lbs.

In Belfast, Northern Ireland’s Michael Conlan will weigh in for his world title tilt against IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez on Friday evening.

Weight drama in Manchester

Mauricio Lara weighs in behind a banner
Mauricio Lara was told he could not cut down to the championship limit on Friday

Rumours began to circulate on Friday morning that Lara was struggling to make weight.

They spread so far it was a topic of discussion in Bournemouth, where Boxxer was holding its rival event.

The official weigh-in at the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel in Manchester was delayed, with a large crowd made to wait.

Just before the scheduled 1pm start, Matchroom confirmed Lara had been told by the BBBofC he was not permitted to cut any more weight.

Yet Mexican, who was just 24 when he won his world title, smiled as he weighed in and flexed his muscles after a cordial face off against Wood, adding to what was now a strange atmosphere.

A 4lbs weight difference is a massive obstacle for Wood against such a heavy puncher. Wood also has the added disadvantage of having gone through with his weigh cut, while Lara has not.

Former stablemates set for Bournemouth bout

Lawrence Okolie and Chris Billam-Smith pose for the crowd at Friday's weigh-in
Champion Okolie is undefeated in 19 pro bouts, while Billam-Smith has won 17 and lost one

With a stage erected in front of a merry-go-round and helter skelter slide, it was a cordial affair in Bournemouth as both Billam-Smith and Okolie comfortably made weight.

Billam-Smith is trained by Shane McGuigan, who also coached Okolie before they parted ways earlier this year.

The pier was at full capacity as fans of home fighter Billam-Smith mingled amongst those who stumbled across the weigh-in during a day out at the beach.

There was no handshake at the face-to-face. An expressionless Okolie stared into the challenger’s eyes as Billam-Smith smiled back.

Billam-Smith beat Isaac Chamberlain in front of 4,000 fans at Bournemouth International Centre last year. He said fighting at his beloved AFC Bournemouth’s ground, in front of 15,000 will be the “pinnacle” of his career.

“It’s already been such a great event and build-up to be involved in,” he added. “The tickets going crazy, the whole town getting behind me. It’s phenomenal.”

Okolie is competing for the second time in the space of two months. He beat New Zealander’s David Light on points in March and believes the back-to-back camps will work to his advantage.

“I’m in great shape and I need to be in great shape because it’s going to be a tough fight until I’ve got control of it,” he said.

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