You can add Mauricio Lara to the growing list of people who agreed with the decision made by the corner of Leigh Wood at the end of their title fight.
The sport remains divided in the aftermath of the Mexican slugger’s come-from-behind seventh-round stoppage to wrest the WBA featherweight title from Wood. Their February 18 DAZN-aired main event from Wood’s hometown of Nottingham, England saw Mexico City’s Lara (25-2-1, 18KOs) rally from a scorecard deficit to drop the Brit with a vicious left hook in the closing seconds of round seven.
Wood (26-3, 16KOs) beat the count, but was not permitted to continue after head trainer Ben Davison literally threw in the towel. Referee Michael Alexander halted the contest at 2:54 of round seven as a result.
“I wasn’t surprised. I was glad that they threw in the towel,” Lara told iD Boxing of the fight-ending sequence. “I saw how he was moving. If his team would have allowed him to continue, he would have suffered even more punishment.”
Lara trailed by scores of 59-55, 58-56 and 58-56 at the time of the dramatic stoppage. At first glance, Wood appeared to be clear-headed and ready to continue. However, his corner decided to rescue the 34-year-old from further punishment, thus ending his stay as WBA featherweight titlist.
Wood initially insisted after the fight that he was prepared to continue but respected the decision made by Davison. He doubled down on that stance the following morning.
“I stand by my coaches [sic] decision I know he cares about me,” Wood said via social media on Sunday. “Boxers sometimes have to be saved [from] themselves. I have more big nights ahead.
“It was painful at the time but with my kids today smile on my face knowing [I’ll] be back better than before like always.”
Lara’s win saw the 24-year-old slugger become the third Mexican to currently hold a featherweight title, joining IBF beltholder Luis Alberto Lopez (27-2, 15KOs) of Mexicali and WBC titlist Rey Vargas (36-1, 22KOs) who hails from Otumba. The WBO belt was recently vacated by San Juan Zitlaltepec’s Emanuel Navarrete (37-1, 31KOs), who currently holds the sanctioning body’s junior lightweight title.
Saturday’s feat saw Lara now go unbeaten in his last sixteen starts. The run includes thirteen knockouts among fifteen wins, including a February 2021 ninth-round stoppage of Josh Warrington (31-2-1, 8KOs) to deal the first loss to the former IBF titlist.
“I hit very hard and I fear for my opponents when I land my punches,” noted Lara. “I was thankful that [Wood’s] team threw in the towel.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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