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

By Coral Barry & Kal SajadBBC Sport at Kimpton Clocktower Hotel, Manchester & Bournemouth Pier
Leigh Wood kisses his hand as he weighs in
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 limit and promoter Eddie Hearn says the bout will go ahead, with the English fighter eligible to win the title in Manchester.

Wood's team were not as positive about Saturday's fight taking place.

"I can't sit here and say we 100% rule out the fight not taking place," said Wood's trainer Ben Davison.

After a weight check on Wednesday, the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) raised concerns about how heavy the champion was as he tried to make the nine-stone limit.

The BBBofC did not want Lara cutting weight below 9st 2.5lbs, which resulted in the 25-year-old stopping his weight cut and tipping the scales at 9st 3.8lbs on Friday.

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

Bournemouth fighter Billam-Smith challenges Londoner Okolie for the WBO cruiserweight title at Vitality Stadium and there was no similar 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 and IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez both made weight for their world-title bout on Saturday night at the SSE Arena

Conlan and Mexican Lopez - who beat Josh Warrington in December - both weighed in at 8st 13lbs.

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.

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

The official weigh-in at the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel in Manchester was delayed, with a decent 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 the 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 and the Nottingham fighter also has the 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 local favourite Billam-Smith mingled among 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 are going crazy, the whole town is 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.

Conlan 'ready' for world-title shot

'The most important fight I've ever had' - Conlan

The were huge cheers for home fighter Conlan in Belfast, with pockets of support for champion Lopez.

The official weigh-in took place on Friday afternoon before the two men came face-to-face again at a ceremonial weigh-in at Belfast's Europa Hotel in the evening.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum and Northern Ireland's two-weight world champion Carl Frampton were among those in attendance at the latter weigh-in.

A confident Conlan said he "felt ready" for his second shot at a world title.

The 31-year-old was dramatically beaten by Nottingham's Wood via a 12-round knockout in March.

Asked for a comment on Lara missing weight against his former foe, Conlan sad: "I couldn't care less."

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