By Jim Calfa: Leigh Wood agrees with his trainer Ben Davison’s decision to throw in the towel in the seventh round to save him last Saturday night after he’d been brutally poleaxed by a massive left hook bomb by the Mexican knockout artist Mauricio Lara at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, England.
Wood (26-3, 16 KOs), who lost his WBA featherweight title, says he understands that Davison cares about him and that sometimes fighters must be saved from themselves. It was clear that Wood was ready to continue fighting and was ready to go out on his shield.
If you saw what Lara did to Emilio Sanchez last March when he had him in a similar physical condition, you’d likely agree with Davison’s decision to throw in the towel to rescue the badly hurt Wood moments after the knockdown.
Wood could have been badly hurt
Sanchez was folded up like a lawn chair after Lara nailed him with a big left hook after he’d hurt him in the third round of their fight on March 5th, 2022, in San Diego, California. Looking back at that knockout by Lara, it was scary how Sanchez looked as he lay on the canvas. That could have easily been Wood, who still looked hurt as he e exited the ring after the fight.
Eddie Hearn & Davison both made a big deal about Sanchez having hurt Lara moments before with a body shot, but what they failed to understand is that even when he’s hurt, he’s still a monstrous puncher.
Lara is like a surgeon once a fighter is hurt, and his power is not of this world. You can only imagine what he would have done to Wood if he’d connected with even one of his shots when he was in that condition.
“Leigh Wood was in trouble the first couple of rounds and then boxed the absolute perfect fight,” said promoter Eddie Hearn to iFL TV, reflecting on Leigh Wood’s loss to Mauricio Lara afterward.
Also I stand by my coaches decision I know he cares about me.
Boxers sometimes have to be saved by themselves, I have more big nights ahead.
It was painful at the time but with my kids today smile on my face knowing ill be back better than before like always 👊🏼❤️
— Leigh Wood (@itsLeighWood) February 19, 2023
“I thought he was cruising to either stopping Mauricio Lara late or stopping him on points. I didn’t think Leigh was in any condition to continue, in all honesty, and I feel that it’s easy to say with nine or ten seconds left, he could have ridden out the round.
Lara was ready to jump on Wood
“Mauricio Lara was ready to jump on you, and I promise in those eight or nine seconds, he would have landed flush on Leigh Wood, and if he did, he might not be walking out of that ring tonight, and also, his career might be over.
“Could he have held on? Possibly. Could he have recovered in the corner? Possibly, but against a finisher like Mauricio Lara, probably not. I’d rather have him in the changing room, smiling, feeling like, ‘I can beat Mauricio Lara in the rematch. I can beat Mauricio Lara,’ than in a hospital.
“I understand as well because my initial reaction was, ‘Eight seconds, oh no.’ It doesn’t really matter because he was on him. You realize, ‘1, 2, 3, 4;’ Do you know how long that is? If he would have landed clean, he [Wood] would have been stretchered out of the ring,” said Hearn.
Leigh has a rematch clause
Wood has a rematch clause that he can use to get a second fight with Lara, and he’ll have a lot of time to improve and put together, with the help of Davison, a game plan that can’t fail.
When Wood was on the outside, throwing jabs and straight punches, he was fine, as Lara was unable to reach him with his powerful left hook, which is his bread & butter kill shot. Without question, Wood made a mistake by choosing to throw hooks when he started to dominate Lara.
Wood assumed that he had Lara where he wanted him and that he do whatever he wanted to because there wasn’t much coming back at him any longer.
Lara’s work rate had dropped to nearly nothing from the fourth round, and he was retreating a lot, trying to get away from Wood because he wasn’t comfortable with the body shots he was getting hit with.
The stabbing body shots that Wood was hitting him with were troubling Lara, and he didn’t like getting hit with those. In hindsight, Wood should have continued to work the body with stabbing jabs and ignored throwing to the head, which involved too much risk of getting countered.