LEIGH WOOD says eight months of preparing to fight Mauricio Lara will give him an advantage on Saturday night at the Manchester Arena.

The two featherweights meet for a second time this year after Lara proved he carried more power on the night in February. Wood suffered a heavy knockdown in round seven in front of his own fans at the Nottingham Arena. Each had thrown left hooks simultaneously with 24 seconds to go but Lara’s landed first.

Wood recovered to his feet and referee Michael Alexander looked set to allow ‘Leigh-thal’ to continue but trainer Ben Davison wasn’t convinced and threw the towel in.

A rematch clause was already in place for Wood, and it wasn’t long before promoter Eddie Hearn was told that he wanted another shot at the Mexican dangerman.

“I’m prepared for anything that he brings,” Wood said at yesterday’s final press conference.

“The first-time round was hard because we didn’t have his style against my style to look at, now we’ve got that information and we know what he does when I do certain things. I’ve been preparing for him for nearly a year in September. I know him inside out; I’m just going to go out there and prove that I’m the better fighter.”

With his 35th birthday under 10 weeks away Wood is in a must-win position. Another defeat would be an even greater step back than that from his first loss to Lara. An eleven-and-a-half year, career has had its share of ups and downs and some hard fights for Wood who waited a long time to reach world level. Time may not be on his side to climb back up the rankings once again.

“It’s a must-win fight; there’s a lot of pressure,” he said.

“I love it, I thrive on it. Whatever it takes on Saturday night I’m coming away with a win.

“This is what gets me up for it, I can’t lose. I can’t afford to lose. That could be the end of the road for me. It’s a long road to come back from. That’s why I’m not thinking about losing, I’ve done everything I can do to win. I’m confident in winning. I know what I need to do to win. I know what I can’t afford to do.”