By Jake Tiernan: Leigh Wood needs to decide whether he should go ahead and take the rematch with Mauricio Lara again or walk away and forget about it after losing his WBA featherweight title last weekend in getting stopped in the seventh round by the heavy-handed contender.
It would be bad on Wood’s part to fight an immediate rematch because that would mean that he would need to return to the ring to face Lara in May.
That’s the month that the City Ground will be available for Wood to fight again, and if he doesn’t take advantage of the availability of that venue in May, he’ll be stuck fighting in a smaller venue. That means less money.
Wood’s promoter Eddie Hearn doesn’t sound too eager to throw him back in there with Lara (26-2-1, 19 KOs) after witnessing his knockout at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham.
Lara did a significant amount of damage to Wood, even with him fighting in a patient, conservative manner, not attacking him like he usually does with his opponents.
Until the moment that Lara dropped Wood, the only round where he put his foot on the gas pedal was in the second, and he had Leigh hurt and badly marked up in the three minutes action.
Oddly enough, Lara backed off after the second and let Wood take control by fighting passively. It was strange to watch Lara not attacking when he had such an excellent round in the second.
It was almost as if Lara purposefully allowed Wood to survive so that he could get some rounds in. It was bizarre.
Could Wood have survived?
“I was surprised the referee allowed it to continue because he was out of the game, but he’s also a world champion, and you’ve got to be given every opportunity to continue,” said Eddie Hearn to the DAZN Boxing Show about the referee not halting fight after Leigh Wood was knocked down in the seventh by Mauricio Lara.
“The reality is, it would have taken only a clean jab to put him back over, and a clean shot from Mauricio Lara means Leigh Wood might not have left the ring on his feet. Also, his career might have been over.
“In the second round, he [Wood] got tagged by a shot. He wasn’t out, but his legs were gone. It only took him five seconds to recover. The same happened in the Conlan fight.
“That was such a heavy knockout. He was lucky that was the end of the round, but he came out for the second round, and his legs were back,” said Hearn about Leigh Wood getting dropped in the first round by Michael Conlan last March
“When he got up, he got up too quickly, and when he got up, his legs were gone. By the time the referee gave him the count, he had recovered some of his stability. The problem is, it’s Mauricio Lara. It’s not Conlan; it’s not Warrington.
“The bigger criticism is, did Ben know there were ten seconds left? Probably the answer is no. Would it have changed his decision?” said Hearn.
Did Davison anticipate Leigh getting hurt?
“Don’t you think he knew he was going to get hurt in this fight?” said Tony Bellew about trainer Ben Davison likely knew going into the contest that Leigh Wood would get hurt at some point by Lara.
“Ben chose Mauricio Lara. He must have well anticipated Leigh getting hurt because he’s been hurt numerous times in numerous fights by lesser punchers than Mauricio Lara.
“So how do you not anticipate him getting hurt and this happening, and then when it does happen, and it comes to fruition, you go, ‘No, that has got to stop,'” said Bellew.
“When you do get hurt, and you see your guy potentially indefensible, you have to make a call there as well,” said Hearn. “I don’t think you can say, ‘Well, we signed up for this. You’re probably going to get rendered unconscious here, but hopefully, you’ll be alright and carry on.’
“Lara could have attacked him and swung wildly, and Leigh could have grabbed him, and that would have been the end of the round. There is a chance that he could have recovered.
“From that knockdown against Mauricio Lara, I do not believe he could have won that fight from that position and come back in the fight, not against Lara. I agree against other fighters, but not against Lara. We’ll never know.
“Ben Davison, knowing the fighter, made that division based on the conscious, the unconscious, everything he knows about Leigh Wood. He’s more qualified to make that decision than us for that fighter in that instance.
“They know you. They might have seen you get hurt in sparring. They might have seen you react in different [situations]. On the flip side, Lara goes in, straight right hand, left hook; he’s unconscious, he’s on oxygen, he’s stretchered out of the ring and spends the night at the hospital. Anything could happen.
“He was concussed after the fight. There’s no doubt about it. Even in the changing room after, I could tell that he wasn’t in the greatest of condition.
“That just goes to show you how heavy the left hook was [from Lara]. It was a very, very knockdown. He got up too quickly. It was an unbelievable turnaround. He’ll [Wood] will definitely want the rematch because he’ll believe he can win the fight, but it’s a case of how will we do it?” said Hearn.
Wood is near the end of his career
“Leigh Wood probably has two or three fights left in his career,” said Hearn. “He made a lot of money. I know he wanted to win, but this is a guy in the bubble [Wembley Arena] who was fighting for the British title, and that was only a couple of years ago. It’s unbelievable what he achieved.
“He showed he’s a very good fighter and talented. By the way, shout out to Mauricio Lara’s team because Leigh Wood can really punch, and he hit him flush. He took a lot of big shots. It was quite a patient performance from Mauricio Lara, and he nearly paid for that.
“I felt like he should have started faster, and if he did, he might have had more success. He hurt Leigh in the second round, but he kind of took his foot off the gas, and he allowed Leigh Wood to dictate the pace. Maybe he doesn’t do that in the rematch.
“I think the stoppage was correct, as he said after. He believed it was correct. He was out on his feet, and Lara has that kind of power to switch you off, and he did,” said Michael Conlan said to iFL TV about the victory last Saturday night by Mauricio Lara over Leigh Wood.
“I believe it was Leigh’s own fault. He got greedy and tried to throw hooks with a hooker and got clipped and got put down really, really heavy. He performed well up to that point. The first two rounds, I gave one even, one to Lara, and the one I gave him was big [round two],” said Conlan.
Leigh could have won if he boxed
“You could see when he put his shots together and hit the body, Wood didn’t know what to do,” Conlan said. “But when Leigh got back to his boxing, he was able to control him. If he had kept doing that and not got greedy, he probably would have walked away with a victory.
“People loved that fight; there were so many ups and downs. It was like a movie,” said Conlan about his fight with Leigh Wood last year. “Unfortunately, I was on the end of that, but I’m on the cusp of fighting for another world title, and I believe I’ll become world champion.
“If I become world champion, what value does the fight [Wood rematch] have with me? I can bring my ego into it and say, ‘He beat me, and I want to get one back.’ But business-wise, will it be the same value as it was immediately after? I don’t think so. I’ll go win my world title, and then I’ll see what’s the next best step for me.
“May 27th is the date for me against Luis Lopez. I don’t know if it’s happening because nothing is saying it’s delivered. That’s what it’s looking like. I haven’t really done it because nothing is 100%.
“I’ve watched a little bit,” said Conlan when asked if he’s begun studying IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez to begin preparation for a fight against him in May.
“I don’t overly study my opponents anyway. I leave that to my coaches and my team, and my father. That’s not something I can really do. I watch a little bit. I take away what I can see and take a few rounds, and I’m like, ‘This is what I’ll do.’ Definitely,” said Conlan when asked if this is the way he’ll win a world title.