Leigh Wood Produces Stylish Display To Regain WBA Featherweight Title
At Big Fight Weekend, we have witnessed many shocking moments in boxing over the years. We witnessed another one at the Leigh Wood vs Mauricio Lara II weigh-in – with the Mexican weighing nearly four pounds more than the featherweight limit of 126 lb. On February 18, Wood was ahead on the scorecards before Lara scored a wicked left hook ending the fight at the end of the 7th round. Could there be glorious redemption for Wood? or would he fall victim again to the heavy-handed Mexican?
The excellent performance from Jack Catterall against Darragh Foley got the crowd hyped up in the best way possible. Sweet Caroline blasted out of the AO Arena sound system – signalling it was time for the main event, and the Manchester crowd gave Leigh Wood a phenomenal welcome – belting out “God Save the King.”
Round one began with the uncertainty of yesterday’s way in, fresh in everyone’s mind. Wood took the centre of the ring, immediately and through a sharp jab, and used his jab effectively for most of the opening round. Lara didn’t throw too much, as he seemed to be looking for an opening to land a big shot.
Round 2 began with Lara landing a sharp left hook, which Wood took very well. The Nottinghamshire-born fighter again impressed with his sharp jab. Lara continued to have a low output of punches, but looked content to wait for his chance, but was stunned with a beautiful right uppercut from Wood, which sent the Mexican crashing to the canvas.
Round Three began with Wood showcasing his power which again seemed to stun his Mexican opponent. The Englishman’s jab continued to impress as he seemed in control before Lara landed a beautiful left hand, which reminded Wood of his exceptional power. Round four was a quiet round, with Wood jabbing diligently, which seemed to frustrate Lara, with the Mexican landing some nice body shots, which the Englishman absorbed comfortably.
Woods feigning and jabbing was a highlight of rounds five and six, as he successfully avoided wild-looking left hooks from Lara. His footwork also stood out in this round and was a noticeable improvement from their first fight.
Wood’s lateral movement again continued to impress as Lara struggled to land his big shots. The Englishman continued to stay behind his effective jab in round seven and showcased his impressive accuracy and combinations, which seemed to be bamboozling his opponent at this stage. Lara’s only brief success in the round was a couple of nice body shots, which Wood took well. That was an impressive round from the Nottinghamshire-born fighter, who seems to be growing in confidence as the fight progresses.
Rounds eight and nine were comfortable for Wood as he again showcased his slick footwork and shot selection. Lara seemed devoid of ideas as the fight moved into the championship rounds. Lara’s frustration appeared to be building as he continually hit the Englishman’s gloves with left hooks. Round ten continued in the same vain with Wood constantly moving and landing his jab, which was clinical, as his performance in general.
Rounds eleven and twelve were an absolute clinic from Wood as he stayed behind his jab and continually impressed with his effective movement. Lara showed more urgency in the final round, but he couldn’t get near the Englishman. Following the defeat in February, many doubted Woods’s chances in the rematch. But all credit must go to Wood and his trainer Ben Davidson as their tactics were spot on, and they negated all of Lara’s strengths, and cruised to a clinical win in front of a vocal partisan crowd. The performance was summed up perfectly by fight commentator Darren Brker, who described Wood’s performance as “Absolutely Textbook.”
As the judge’s scorecards were read by David Diamante, it was confirmed, Wood won comfortably on all three judges’ scorecards (118-109 x2, 116-111) winning the WBA Featherweight title.
In the ring after the fight, Wood couldn’t contain his delight at winning as he exclaimed. “What a Feeling“
When asked about the risks in taking the rematch, Wood’s confidence in his ability shone through. “I wasn’t losing no matter what, Wood said. “I wasn’t losing tonight.”
Wood also mentioned in the ring he feels he has two fights left and mentioned Josh Warrington and Luiz Alberto Lopez, who knocked out Northern Ireland’s Michael Conlan to retain his IBF 126 lb. title, as potential opponents.