In a dramatic and somewhat controversial ending, Mauricio Lara completed his dream of becoming a world champion as he scored a 7th round TKO over home favorite Leigh Wood to capture the WBA featherweight world title Saturday night.
In the Matchroom Boxing main event at the Motorprint Arena in Nottingham, England, Lara scored a wicked left hook that knocked down Wood at the end of the 7th round. And, it caused Woods corner to halt the fight, somewhat questionably, with under 10 seconds to go in the remainder of the round.
In comes the towel after a big knockdown at the end of the seventh…
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) February 18, 2023
The fight was deemed virtually even by oddsmakers going in with Wood making the first defense of the WBA World title after he had been elevated to that status with his thunderous KO win over Michael Conlan for the interim championship in March of 2022 .
Lara was viewed as a “live” challenger, as he had previously dominated and knocked out England’s Josh Warrington in nine rounds in February of 2021. The Lara-Warrington rematch seven months later ended in a no contest after an accidental clash of heads stopped the fight for a bad cut on Lara in the second round. Lara had won two other fights by KO in 2022 to set up the meeting with Wood.
There was another accidental clash of heads in the first round of Saturday night’s title fight that caused a cut over the left eye of Wood. Lara, now 26-2-1, 19 KOs, seized on some of the blood flow bothering Wood in the second round and landed some big right hands with lefts behind them. And, had one that buckled Wood briefly with less than :30 remaining. However, Wood recovered in between rounds and began to find the range by attacking Lara’s body and landing right hands of his own.
That included a good right in the third round, which caused Lara to smile and nod his head almost saying “that one was a good punch.” But, then Lara stepped up the attack, as the fight progressed and continued to score with lead rights of his own. Interestingly, all three judges scored the third through the sixth rounds for the champ giving him an early lead. They were somewhat persuaded by Wood scoring and having the partisan crowd cheer for anything he did.
But all of that wouldn’t matter.
The culmination of the fight came late in the 7th, when Lara dipped from waist level and landed a wicked left hook to the jaw of Wood, now 26-3, causing him to crash and bang his head on the canvas. Wood beat the mandatory eight count, but was a little wobbly. And then surprisingly, his own corner threw the towel in with under 10 seconds remaining in the round. Many in the arena and observers at ringside felt as though the bout had been stopped early, but obviously Wood’s corner has the most concern for their fighter.
The Wood-Lara bout had been approved by the WBA world title for back in September of last year, however Wood suffered a biceps injury in training and the fight was rescheduled for February.
Back to the ring Saturday night, Lara celebrated jubilantly and in tears for winning a world championship on foreign soil. And, the victory immediately establishes him as one of the premiere fighters at 126 lb.
Wood was also in tears for a different reason, having to be consoled in his corner minutes after the bout, as the magnitude of the defeat had set in.