Wood vs. Lara + undercard final press conference quotes

February 16 2023

Eddie Hearn, Matchroom Sport Chairman:

“The WBA World Featherweight Title. The Super WBA World Featherweight Title. Leigh Wood against Mauricio Lara this Saturday live on DAZN around the world from the Motorpoint Arena Nottingham. What a fight we have here. Someone asked me earlier, what gives me a big fight feeling? Driving up the M1 excited, thinking about what might happen on Saturday night. Thinking about the atmosphere, thinking about the great nights we’ve experienced in this arena. Carl Froch beating Lucian Bute, Leigh Wood beating Michael Conlan. Honestly on Saturday night I think we’re going to get the best we’ve ever seen in this city. This is a tremendous fight to bring to the UK and we’re so proud of Leigh Wood the champion for accepting this challenge as the champion. The first time you’ve seen an underdog in his home city take a voluntary defence. Him and his trainer Ben Davison they see something, they see an opportunity to become the daddy of the division on Saturday night. For me this is to determine the number one fighter in the 126lbs division. There’s going to be drama, there’s going to be excitement and there’s going to be plenty of violence. We cannot wait.”

Leigh Wood – Gedling, England – 26-2, 16 KOs – defending his WBA Featherweight World Title against Mauricio Lara:

“It has been a long journey to get here. I was that little kid trying to get a slot of the Froch undercards. I’ve come a long way since then. There’s nothing that’s going to beat me on Saturday night, nothing at all. There’s nothing that he can bring that I’m not prepared for. He’s ready for war but I’m ready for a smart tactical knockout. I think the underdog mentality going into a fight does help a little bit but it’s more about having that danger. With the Can Xu fight it was punches and output. There’s a bit of that fear factor to get me up for the fight. The Conlan fight, he was a southpaw, bearing in mind before then I’d only boxed one in my career. He’s very skilful and has a massive amateur pedigree. So there was that factor as well. This fight it’s a new approach but a similar kind of thing. We’ve got the fear factor – he can punch and he’s dangerous. Whichever way this fight goes I’m prepared for it. The underdog mentality, not only do I strive on but I kind of need it. It’s going to be special. It’s going to be a wolf pit. It’s going to be a cauldron, very hostile. Massive thank you to everyone from Nottingham. It’s going to be a great atmosphere so thanks for getting behind me. Every time I get in the ring I put it all on the line, every single drop of me is going into this fight – whatever I have to do. Whatever it takes, if I have to pick myself up I’ll pick myself up. I’ve shown in my last fight I’m resilient, I can punch, I’m fit and I’m headstrong which is the most important thing in boxing. That mental capacity of not deciding to give up.”

Ben Davison, trainer of Leigh Wood:

“Styles make fights, more than levels. Leigh Wood has been written off numerous times throughout his career. When he lost for the British Title early on, when he lost in the Golden Contract, when he was boxing Can Xu, when he was boxing Michael Conlan. Every time he’s come back better and stronger and risen to the challenge. That’s when you see the best of Leigh Wood. You won’t see the best of Leigh in a fight that he’s the heavy favourite in. Mauricio Lara is a very brave fighter and a very dangerous fighter. In the mist of chaos lies opportunity and I believe that you can’t be as reckless as he is against a puncher like Leigh Wood. There is no doubt in my mind who the bigger puncher is. That’s not how it always plays out in a fight. Leigh is very well drilled and well prepared. He knows exactly what he needs to do and will have the intelligence and the IQ to create the opportunities and scenarios that favour him in the fight for him to execute what he needs to execute to end the fight. Fear is not anything to do with Leigh’s mindset going into this fight. We’re very confident, Leigh’s very confident. If anything, Mauricio Lara needs to be worrying and fearful of Leigh Wood because he’ll be the one that comes out victorious and he’s the dangerman in the fight.”

Mauricio Lara – Mexico City, Mexico – 25-2-1, 18 KOs – challenging Leigh Wood for his WBA Featherweight World Title:

“Hello to everyone here, I hope you’re all well. I’m feeling really happy. When opportunities come around I take them with both hands and I’m convinced that I will win. I’m not disrespecting him in anyway but I just know the capability of ‘Bronco’ Lara who will go on to win the World Title. I’ve prepared better than ever and I’ve prepared not for a fight, but for a war and I’m prepared to leave absolutely everything in there. I’ve prepared as well as I possibly can. I feel like this is almost my second home. This will definitely not go to the scorecards I can tell you that. I feel like I’ve been supported on the social media platforms and I’m going to give absolutely everything on Saturday.”

Alejandro Brito, manager of Mauricio Lara:

“First and foremost, I want to say thank you to Eddie for the opportunity. We also have to thank Leigh Wood’s team for this opportunity. He’s now just two days away from becoming World Champion. It has been a dream that he has had for a long time, we hoped that he’d do it against Josh Warrington, unfortunately that fight wasn’t for a World Title in the end. I’m totally convinced now that through all the hard work and suffering he has gone through that he’s going to become World Champion on Saturday night. I met Mauricio a little over six years ago and he always said it was a dream to become World Champion. He always wanted his name to be recognised in Mexico and around the world and now he’s just two days away from this. We’re really confident and really motivated, not just us but every back home in Mexico. They believe he will become World Champion.”

Dalton Smith – Sheffield, England – 13-0, 10 KOs – making the second defence of his British Super-Lightweight Title against Billy Allington:

“I don’t overlook anybody and I know Billy is coming with big intentions. I’ve heard it in my previous fights with people thinking I’m overlooking opponents. Believe me, I don’t do that. I just focus on the job in front of me and that’s the fight on Saturday night. I’ve got to turn up, be 100% and get the job done in style. We’re probably going to see the very best version of Billy. It’s a big opportunity for him and he’s coming to try and upset the odds. I’m not going to let that happen. I’m fully focused. I’ve had a good camp. I just keep on improving and improving with every fight. I feel like I’m turning into a good solid young man now. I just can’t wait to show you all on Saturday night. It’s going to be unbelievable and the support for me is getting bigger and bigger. I was here for my debut on Leigh’s undercard back in 2019. It’s a great sporting city and they always come out in their numbers. I can’t wait to be on that ramp walking down. I’m sure the atmosphere is going to be great.”

Billy Allington – Egham, England – 10-1-4 – challenging Dalton Smith for his British Super-Lightweight Title:

“Firstly I want to say thank you. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be here. I’ve got a lot of people that want to see me do well and that’s a blessing in itself. I’m very well prepared. I’ve earnt my stripes by becoming English Champion, Southern Area Champion on the small hall shows. I’m excited to be here and challenge myself to be the best that I can be. I’ve got a great team and I’m very grateful for that as well. The magnitude of this event is very exciting. If you’d have asked me when I was a 13-year-old boy if I’d make it to where I am now I’d have probably said, ‘I don’t know’. I’m ready to take my opportunity on Saturday with both hands and become the new British Champion. It’s an honour to fight for the title and I’m more than capable of upsetting the odds here. I believe in myself, my team believe in me and this is why we’re here. We’re here for a reason. Dalton is a good fighter, I’m not going to say he isn’t, but as a champion we want to fight other champions and challenge ourselves to get the best out of ourselves. That’s how we grow as humans. I’ve got about 100 people coming up to watch me and that touches me as well. Let’s have a good night Saturday.”

Gary Cully – Naas, Ireland – 15-0, 9 KOs – fighting Wilfredo Flores for the vacant WBA Intercontinental Lightweight Title:

“I’ve been gaining a lot of momentum. I’m here and I’m back in Nottingham, it’s good vibes for me. I was here last year fighting Miguel Vazquez – 2022 was kind of my breakout year but I feel like I’ve been putting in performances like that over the past five years of my career. I’ve fought undefeated guys, I’ve had my step ups, I’ve fought my former World Champions and all of this. I believe it’s a big step up for Wilfredo Flores and he’s going to be out of his depth on Saturday night. Too good, too big and too strong. 2023 is my year. There’s lots of talk about going back to Ireland and fighting back at home. It’s been a dream of mine to fight back in Ireland ever since I was a kid so I’ve been using that as massive motivation for this camp and to push that little bit harder. There’s some big fights coming at the back end of 2023 for me if I get through Saturday night. I come to bring excitement and entertainment every time I fight. I just heard Chev Clarke say he doesn’t go in there to knock people out he goes in there to box, but I come in to take your head off and it’s going to be no different on Saturday night. No disrespect to Wilfredo Flores but I believe I’m on a different level and I’m coming in there to take his head off on Saturday night.”

Wilfredo Flores – Dunkirk, USA – 10-0-1, 5 KOs – fighting Gary Cully for the vacant WBA Intercontinental Lightweight Title:

“Thank you for the opportunity I’m very excited. Hopefully I can come away with the victory and come away with some fans in the UK. This is my opportunity to showcase myself and who I am to the world. I’m looking forward to it. This is an opportunity that comes with working hard. I have good work ethic and it’s embedded in me to continue to progress and showcase my hard work. I expect Gary to be well prepared and ready to go to war. I certainly am. This is a sport. We’re both very competitive fighters and I’m sure we’re going to steal the show this Saturday night.”

Cheavon Clarke – Gravesend, England – 4-0, 4 KOs – fighting Israel Duffus in a ten round International Cruiserweight contest:

“First and foremost I’d like to mention Dec Spellman. It’s really bad for him not being able to provide for his family doing something that he’s always done. I’ve got a tough opponent on Saturday and I’m looking forward to putting on a show. I don’t go out there trying to stop people. I go out there and I try to box. When the opportunities come I take them. If you guys think that’s exciting, I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing. There’s plenty of good fights out there for me.”

Israel Duffus – San Miguelito, Panama – 20-8, 17 KOs – fighting Cheavon Clarke in a ten round International Cruiserweight contest:

“Thank you for the opportunity. I always try to keep in shape – you never know when the opportunity is going to come. This is one of those cases. Cheavon’s amateur career looks very impressive but he’s in the professional code now and it’s not the same. Amateur and professional are two different things. I also had the opportunity back in 2012 and 2008 in the Olympics. Now we’re in the professionals. I’m really happy for this.”

Gamal Yafai – Birmingham, England – 19-2, 11 KOs – fighting Diego Alberto Ruiz in a ten round International Super-Bantamweight contest:

“I’m looking forward to getting in there a doing the job. I’ve enjoyed the move to Jamie Moore’s gym, it has been good. I feel like I’ve got some structure now in my life. I’m looking forward to showing that on Saturday night. Get Saturday night sorted and I want to push towards the world level again.”

Aaron Bowen – Coventry, England – Professional Debut – fighting Mathieu Gomes in a six round International Middleweight contest:

“I’m looking forward to my professional debut. This is obviously where I want to be. I’ve got a big following and with big fights I think even more people can get behind me. I feel like my fights in the amateurs have given me great experience. This is a big stage and it’s a little bit different but the pressure that I experience boxing in the Commonwealth Games, boxing for GB travelling the world, I’ve sort of been there now so it’s given me that little stepping stone. This isn’t too far out of my comfort zone and at the end of the day it’s just a rig. I feel like it’s done me good. I come to fight from the first bell until the last. I will be looking for the knockout but I’ll get the job done first.”

Junaid Bostan – Rotherham, England – 4-0, 4 KOs – fighting Peter Kramer in an eight round International Super-Welterweight contest:

“It’s my first eight-rounder. Whether it goes eight rounds is a completely different thing. I’m looking to do a number of this guy and carry on progressing in my career. Funnily enough I wasn’t known as the biggest puncher in the amateurs, but now I’ve turned over I’m knocking everyone out. I’m not complaining. It isn’t deliberate but you don’t get paid for overtime so if you can get them out of there then why not. If you don’t ask you don’t get, so I’ve got to ask about getting on these big shows.”

Kieron Conway – Northampton, England – 18-3-1, 4 KOs – fighting Jorge Silva in an eight round International Super-Middleweight contest:

“It’s good to be on a card so early in the year. I need to put my foot on the gas and get my career back on track. I want to use this year to rebuild. I want to keep all of my fights here in the UK. I want to win a British Title, I don’t care who’s got that. I want to go and win that next and move back on to the world scene after that. I’ve beat high level opposition and I’ve been around high-level opposition. I’m just sick of being known as this nice guy in and out the ring, now I’m coming here to destroy and bring knockouts to the table.”

Sam Maxwell – Liverpool, England – 16-1, 11 KOs – fighting Shaun Cooper in a six round Super-Lightweight contest:

“I’ve got a job to do on Saturday. Get through that and let’s see what we can do after. Dalton Smith is a fight I’m interested in and that’s the fight I want. Touch wood we both come through on Saturday and we can get it on.”