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Prediction and preview: Leigh Wood vs Mauricio Lara and Luis Nery vs Azat Hovhannisyan

Who wins this weekend’s two big main events?

Leigh Wood faces Mauricio Lara on Saturday in Nottingham, who wins?
Leigh Wood faces Mauricio Lara on Saturday in Nottingham, who wins?
Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

We’ve got two (2) good-looking main events coming Saturday on DAZN, one in the (U.S.) afternoon from Nottingham, and one in prime time from California!

Who wins the fights?

Leigh Wood vs Mauricio Lara

Scott Christ (13-5)

First of all, a note from me: This is up late because it’s been a weird week schedule-wise and I just plum forgot. So that’s on me. Everyone else did their job fine.

Second of all, well, well, well! Look who’s not in last place. Well. Look who’s not the only one in last place.

Anyway! I’m going with the minor upset here. I think Lara sounds dialed in and confident, but I think that dialed-in confidence might be his downfall. Wood is on a good run, is tough, and I think is a better fighter than some are giving him credit for, and also that Lara may be more limited than some believe. The double-edged sword! That’s not really what that means. But I’m going with Wood in a terrific battle. That said, if he starts slow again, he’s doomed, because Lara’s not going to let him hang around the way Mick Conlan did. Wood TKO-10

Wil Esco (13-5)

Leigh Wood has been on a good run as of late but I have the suspicion that he’s sort of hit his peak. There’s nothing that Wood does that really strikes me as outstanding, but he’s certainly a capable and resilient fighter who doesn’t easily give up on himself, as evidenced by being dropped early by Michael Conlan only to storm his way back late in the fight. But I think Mauricio Lara is going to be a different sort of beast here and I don’t think the style matchup suits Wood as well.

Lara keeps up a pretty good pace and makes a concerted effort to work his combinations to the body as well as the head, and does so from the early rounds which has allowed him to win a couple of early stoppages recently, albeit against lesser competition. Lara will have a tougher time of it than he did against Jose Sanmartin, but I think he ultimately gets the job just the same. I’m taking Lara to win a late stoppage. Lara TKO-10

John Hansen (17-1)

Any pick here feels reasonable. Either guy getting caught early and stopped in a few rounds sounds just as logical as a full distance forehead-to-forehead war that ends in a split decision. The sure pick, whatever form this fight takes, is: Entertainment. I’ll take the younger man, and credit Wood for the toughness to make him work to earn it. Lara TKO-9

Patrick Stumberg (14-4)

There’s nothing quite like seeing Mauricio Lara get into gear. Watching him throw seemingly endless punches without regard for stance, weight distribution, or personal well-being activates a deep-seated switch in the human brain that transforms any viewer into Sickos.jpg. He’s a violent little Icarus, flying headlong into the sun on wings cobbled together from lead pipes and athletic tape while we hoot and holler and pound our chests.

Wood’s all-out offense definitely provokes a similar response, but he’s a bulldozer playing chicken with a train. “Throw the right hand as often as possible and damn the consequences” doesn’t work on a guy who’ll eat four punches and come back with a hook heavier than all of them put together. “Bronco’s” durability, horsepower, and body attack are too much for Wood to hit head-on and I’m not convinced he’s technical enough to play matador.

Maybe Lara was just a perfect style matchup for Josh Warrington and will struggle against someone with legitimate stopping power, but it’s hard to see him falling short against someone willing to mix it up with him. He overpowers Wood in a vicious firefight. Lara TKO-5

Luis Nery vs Azat Hovhannisyan

Scott Christ (13-5)

Think this might actually wind up being the better in-ring action between the two main events. Basically I’m saying I think both are gonna be great fights, or at least have the clear ingredients to be that. Hovhannisyan will have to keep big pressure on from the get-go to have a chance, and luckily that’s his general operating procedure.

I’d like to see “Crazy A” get the W, and I don’t think it’s horrendously unlikely. Nery’s a better boxer, but there’s a lot Hovhannisyan can take from what Brandon Figueroa and even Carlos Castro did against Nery, who just isn’t quite at 122 what he was at 118, maybe for various reasons. Leaning to Nery, but think it’s going to be really competitive. Nery UD-12

Wil Esco (13-5)

I’m not sure if there’s a more hated fighter in boxing than Luis Nery, and it is a little hard to determine exactly where his head is at. At his best he’s a very technically proficient fighter, but it seems to me that sometimes he gets caught up in just going through the motions and against higher levels of competition that can be problematic.

It seems to me that Nery really isn’t quite the fighter at super bantamweight that he was at bantam, and probably has already reached his peak form despite still only being 28 years old. Azat Hovhannisyan, on the other hand, may be the older fighter on paper but I believe he’s in roughly the same place as Nery in physical respects. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me to see this fight go either way, but I’m just going to give a slight edge to Nery here because Hovhannisyan’s recent string of opponents has been pretty weak since losing to Rey Vargas in 2018. I’ll take Nery to edge out a tough battle. Nery SD-12

John Hansen (17-1)

I’d love to see Crazy A gut and scrap his way to a win here, and I wish we had a few extra hours to see what sort of Nery shows up on the scales before making this pick. Assuming he’s fit and clean (no guarantee, given Nery’s Albondigas-to-Zilpaterol history of self-destruction!), the style matchup favors Nery tremendously. All the come-forward, relentless aggression and wide, powerful hooks that make Hovhannisyan a fan favorite also make him vulnerable. I just don’t think he can try to hang in and eat punches to land his own against someone as talented and heavy-handed as Nery. It’s a recipe for a short night. Nery TKO-6

Patrick Stumberg (14-4)

On a personal level, I’m rooting for a Hovhannisyan knockout with every fiber of my being, both because “Crazy A” is my favorite sort of evil little swarmer and because Nery is Nery. It’s not like I can’t make a qualitative argument for it; getting in Nery’s face proved an effective strategy when Brandon Figueroa did it, and while Nery’s a very solid super bantamweight, he’s not a terror like he was at 118. At the same time, it’s hard to overlook the fact that he doesn’t have one elite win since stopping Ronny Rios five years back and is now in his mid-30s.

Hard, but not impossible. I’m already behind and the heart wants what the heart wants. I’m not convinced Nery can play that pseudo-shoulder roll game he used on Castro against someone this aggressive; “Pantera” has some slick movement when he wants to use it, but he’s also more than willing to mix it up, which plays right into Hovhannisyan’s hands. For once, justice prevails. Hovhannisyan TKO-8

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