Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara: When U.K. meets Mexico

The excitement surrounding Leigh Wood’s WBA featherweight title defense against Mauricio Lara continues to build, with the pair scheduled to slugfest February 18 at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena. The 12-round bout plus undercard action will be broadcast exclusively by DAZN.

Wood (26-2, 18 KOs) won the WBA ‘regular’ title with a thrilling stop in round 12 against Xu Can in July 2021. The 34-year-old Englishman has since stopped Michael Conlan in the closing seconds of The Ring Magazine Fight of the Year 2022 and he was promoted to full WBA Champion.

Set to have his first world title fight, 24-year-old Lara made his mark in February 2021 by knocking out another British star, Josh Warrington (KO 9). The Mexico City product is widely regarded as the hardest puncher in the division and that’s one of the reasons he’s considered a pre-fight favorite. His record stands at 25-2 (18 KOs).

MORE: Watch Leigh Wood vs. Mauricio Lara on DAZN

After Wood and Lara went head-to-head on Saturday, their clash adds to the long list of showdowns between Britain and Mexico.

The Sporting News now takes a look at five occasions when these great boxing nations clashed:

Ruben Olivares vs. Alan Rudkin

  • Date/Place: December 12, 1969/ The Forum, Inglewood, California
  • Title: Undisputed bantamweight

Liverpool’s Rudkin was the reigning British bantamweight champion and a former two-time world title challenger. The talented Englishman had mixed with the best, sharing two fights with Walter McGowan and pushing future Hall of Famers Fighting Harada and Lionel Rose past 15 rounds by losing efforts.

However, Olivares is arguably the greatest Mexican fighter of all time. At this point, the champion was undefeated in 55 fights and at the peak of his impressive powers.

It was all too much for the British challenger. Olivares had Rudkin in the opening round and finished with two more knockdowns in the second round.

Result: Olivare’s TKO 2

MORE: Everything you need to know about Leigh Wood vs Mauricio Lara

Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Andy Holligan

  • Date/ Place: Dec 18, 1993 / Estadio Cuauhtermoc, Puebla, Mexico
  • Title: WBC super light

Holligan, also from Liverpool, was the reigning British and Commonwealth super lightweight champion and was undefeated in 21 fights. However, nothing on his resume indicated that he could perform a miracle.

The legendary Chavez was a three-weight world champion and unbeaten in 89 fights. If that isn’t enough, the fight would be fought on his home soil.

Chavez increased the pressure of the opening bell, pinning the challenger with combinations up and down. The Englishman enjoyed some success in the fourth round but a damaging attack from Chavez late in the fifth convinced Holigan’s corner to pull their man out at the end of that session.

Result: Chavez TKO 5

Prince Naseem Hamed versus Marco Antonio Barrera

  • Date/ Place: April 7, 2001/MGM Grand, Las Vegas
  • Title: Untitled fight

While there was no recognized world championship at stake in the game between Hamed and Barrera, few fans complained. This was a high-octane clash of elite-level featherweights and pound-for-pound contestants.

Unbeaten in 35 fights with 31 knockouts, Sheffield’s Hamed was a real superstar. “The Prince” clinched IBF, WBO, and WBC featherweight titles during his run, and only political madness kept the charismatic power-puncher from picking up the WBA belt.

Barrera had twice won world super-bantamweight titles, but many felt the battle-hardened Mexican was on the slide.

That was a mistake.

MORE: Leigh Wood fearless to fight Mauricio Lara

Not only did Barrera take command of the fight, he also changed his style, passing Hamed by unanimous decision en route to a masterful 12-round triumph.

Result: Barrera UD12

Ricky Hatton vs. Jose Luis Castillo

  • Date/ Place: June 23, 2007 / Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas
  • Title: Ring magazine super light

Hatton, the fighting pride of Manchester, was one of the biggest stars in world boxing at the time. “The Hitman” had upset the great Kostya Tszyu (TKO 11) to win the championship; united at the expense of Carlos Maussa (KO 9) and even clinched a welterweight title.

With a crosshair in a superfight against Floyd Mayweather, Hatton brought his enormous and loyal British fan base to Las Vegas to take on former two-time lightweight king Jose Luis Castillo.

That was a victory for the British.

Hatton won every round, finishing with a wicked body left hook that broke the Mexican fighter’s ribs.

Result: Hatton KO 4

Canelo Alvarez vs. Callum Smith

  • Date/Place: Dec 19, 2020/ Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
  • Title: WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine super middleweight

When it comes to Canelo defeating British fighters, the motto is “take your pick”.

MORE: Leigh Wood vs Mauricio Lara undercard breakdown

The Mexican star won his first world title (vacant WBC super welterweight) by overtaking Matthew Hatton in March 2011. Since then, Canelo has turned down challenges from Ryan Rhodes (TKO 12), Amir Khan (KO 6), Liam Smith (KO 9), Rocky Fielding (TKO 3), and Billy Joe Saunders (TKO 8).

The fight against Callum Smith is outstanding because he established Canelo as the world’s leading 168-pounder. Liverpool’s Smith competed as an undefeated WBA and Ring Magazine champion, but he had very little success against his WBC counterpart.

Canelo was red hot throughout, winning a landslide decision.

Result: Alvarez UD12

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