We’ve got a lot of action this weekend in boxing, with Mauricio Lara and Leigh Wood meeting in Saturday’s headline fight.
So who wins? We’ve got our picks in for seven fights in total!
Mauricio Lara vs Leigh Wood 2
Scott Christ (47-22)
I picked Leigh Wood in February. I think it was about as good as he can fight. But Ben Davison and Wood really wanted this rematch immediately, because Wood thinks he can beat this guy. And I do, too, up to the point where Wood has to avoid Lara’s fight-changing power for an entire 12 rounds.
I just don’t think Wood has the ability to do that. For six, for eight? Yeah. For 10? Maybe. For 12? I don’t see it. But it can happen. All Wood has to do to win is box impeccably for 36 minutes and get Lara so tired he can’t really land much of anything in the double digit rounds. Maybe even go super ugly with it, grab-and-hold through the final danger rounds if you’re confident a lead is built.
That’s all he has to do! But I think Lara’s going to come harder, sooner than before, and will look to test that confidence Wood has in himself. Lara TKO-5
Wil Esco (54-15)
Revenge or repeat? I’m going repeat. Lara TKO-6
John Hansen (49-20)
Back in February, I predicted Lara to win in the 9th round. Leigh Wood was working his plan and navigating Lara’s power very well for half the fight, then he suddenly wasn’t, then he was done.
I can’t really think of a reason to reverse my pick based on what we already saw. Wood probably can’t afford a defensive lapse at any point for 12 full rounds. Lara just needs one good combination to completely redefine the fight. Wood could go for a finish of his own, but mixing it up that way just feeds into Lara’s advantages. I’m still keen to see it, again, but I think we get a similar result, again. Lara TKO-9
Patrick Stumberg (53-16)
There’s no question that Leigh Wood was in total control of the first fight before disaster struck. He had Lara hurt, frustrated, and bizarrely timid, and it’s easy to argue that he’s only a handful of adjustments away from executing that gameplan correctly this time around.
The issue there is twofold. For one, Wood’s style demands a ton of confidence; he’s not a great defensive fighter, meaning his power and chutzpah have to limit his opponents’ output to keep him safe. With that booming left hook so near in his rearview mirror, it’s an open question whether he can still push forward with the sort of relentlessness needed to defuse Lara. For two, it’s hard to get over the fact that the most limited and least-effective Lara we’ve seen to date still managed to knock Wood into next week.
I see this one ending quicker than the last. Lara knows he can take Wood’s best shot and that the opposite isn’t true; expect a higher output from “Bronco” that leads to a stoppage inside the first half. Lara KO-5
Luis Alberto Lopez vs Michael Conlan
Scott Christ (46-22)
Think this is going to be an ugly fight, but oddly entertaining in its way. What I honestly expect is a fight that I score close for Lopez where Conlan limps to the finish line after building a solid lead in the first half, and then Conlan gets disputed scores. Conlan MD-12
Wil Esco (53-15)
Here’s the thing, this fight really has the potential to be a fun one that could go both ways. Luis Alberto Lopez is really all-action, and has a bit of a wild style that sort of reminds me of Julio Cesar Martinez in terms of the mentality and approach. The problem is he fights with his hands down even more than Martinez and he isn’t the slickster he thinks he is in the ring. Against someone with a deep amatuer background such as Conlan, I think Conlan is going to take advantage of the deficiencies with his better technical ability.
The real question for me will be whether or not Conlan can put a dent in Lopez, because if Lopez can consistently walk through his punches, he’s going to be in trouble. I suspect Conlan will have enough to maintain sufficient respect even if he can’t force the stoppage. And even though Conlan has shown some vulnerabilities himself, I think he guts this one out. Conlan UD-12
John Hansen (49-19)
I was originally on live coverage for this fight, and Scott apologized when he gave me the assignment. That’s not to say it’s a bad fight, but it does look like a pretty lousy show in terms of the home viewing experience.
Conlan has a history of losing steam, focus, motivation, or some combination thereof. Lopez is an oddball style guy that’s tough to prepare for, and he’s handled fighters with a profile similar to Conlan already. I can’t really see Conlan knocking him out, but I can easily see Conlan struggling with Lopez early, fading in the back half, and losing a medium to wide decision. Even with a friendly home crowd and potentially friendly home judging, I think Lopez takes the cards. Lopez UD-12
Patrick Stumberg (53-15)
Lopez is one of my favorite breeds of fighter: the kind that makes you go “how the hell is this working?” There’s something extremely endearing about the way he bludgeons people with his chin held high, just waiting for an overhand right to launch it 300 yards down the fairway. I genuinely worry for his health is he runs into a top-tier puncher like Mauricio Lara, but I like his chances here. As good a craftsman as Conlan is, aggressive opponents have been a bugbear for him, from Ionut Baluta to Leigh Wood. If Lopez keeps his foot on the gas, and there’s no reason to think he won’t, I’m not convinced Conlan can play keep-away long enough to reach the friendly judges.
Conlan does admittedly hit harder than his finishing record would suggest and Lopez has a Joycian disinclination to protect his brain, but I like “Venado” to drag Conlan into a firefight that “Mick” can’t win. Lopez slowly takes control as Conlan’s legs slow down, ultimately clubbing him into submission down the stretch. Lopez TKO-9
Lawrence Okolie vs Chris Billam-Smith
Scott: Okolie UD-12
Wil: Okolie UD-12
John: Okolie UD-12
Patrick: Okolie UD-12
Alexis Rocha vs Anthony Young
Scott: Rocha TKO-8
Wil: Rocha TKO-8
John: Rocha KO-5
Patrick: Rocha TKO-7
Melvin Jerusalem vs Oscar Collazo
Scott: Jerusalem UD-12
Wil: Collazo UD-12
John: Jerusalem UD-12
Patrick: Collazo TKO-8
Jack Catterall vs Darragh Foley
Scott: Catterall TKO-8
Wil: Catterall UD-10
John: Catterall UD-10
Patrick: Catterall UD-10
Terri Harper vs Ivana Habazin
Scott: Harper SD-10
Wil: Harper UD-10
John: Harper UD-10
Patrick: Harper UD-10