Leigh Wood committed a tactical mistake for which he paid dearly Saturday night in Nottingham, England.
Mauricio Lara’s left hook knocked Wood to the canvas in the seventh round of their featherweight title bout, but it didn’t shake Wood’s confidence. The former WBA 126-pound champion plans to exercise his contractual right to a rematch with Lara.
Nottingham’s Wood replied, “absolutely,” when DAZN’s Ade Oladipo asked afterward if Wood would fight the rugged Mexican again.
Wood wanted to continue once he got up from Lara’s crushing punch, which knocked him flat on his back with 23 seconds to go in the seventh round at a packed Motorpoint Arena. Referee Michael Alexander was going to allow a bewildered Wood to fight, but Ben Davison, Wood’s trainer, threw in the towel.
Alexander officially stopped their 12-rounder with six seconds to go in the seventh round.
“I’m a fighter, you know,” Wood told Oladipo. “I wanna go until I can’t f***ing do anything more. Congratulations to Mauricio Lara. Great fighter. I made a mistake and I paid for it.”
The 34-year-old Wood was ahead on all three scorecards through six rounds and appeared in complete control when Lara’s left hook in an exchange knocked him senseless. Judges Oliver Brien (59-55), Howard Foster (58-56) and Guillermo Perez Pineda (58-56) all had Wood in front entering the seventh round.
Wood (26-3, 16 KOs) made an optional defense of the WBA featherweight title against the 10th-ranked Lara, which enabled his handlers to put a rematch clause in their contracts for a main event DAZN streamed.
“Leigh Wood has a rematch clause as a champion going into this fight,” said Eddie Hearn, Wood’s promoter. “I would believe he would wanna exercise that rematch [clause] because it was a tremendous fight, a tremendous performance. You’ve got Josh Warrington down there. Maybe these two [Lara and Warrington] fight in the interim.
“Maybe Leigh Wood fights the winner, but [Wood] has the right right now, contractually. And I thought he was cruising the fight at that stage. Rough start, but won four rounds on the spin, and Mauricio Lara just come in with a left hook from the heavens. And that’s why this sport is the most dramatic and the most exciting of them all.”
Mexico City’s Lara (26-2-1, 19 KOs) stopped Warrington (31-2-1, 8 KOs) in the ninth round of their non-title fight two years ago in OVO Arena Wembley in London. Their rematch resulted in a technical draw in September 2021 because an accidental clash of heads caused a cut over Lara’s left eye in the second round that prevented him from continuing at Headingley Rugby Stadium in Warrington’s hometown of Leeds, England.
Warrington told multiple media outlets Saturday night that Lara spat at him after sticking his head between the ropes to yell at his rival following his career-changing victory.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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