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Boxing results: Lara vs. Wood 2: Respect Amongst Rivalry

Image: Boxing results: Lara vs. Wood 2: Respect Amongst Rivalry

By BN 24 Staff: Evening up their rivalry at 1-1, Leigh Wood became a two-time WBA world featherweight titleholder tonight in Manchester.

The fight started at a slower pace than expected. Wood went for the body and began boxing well. He knocked Lara down in the second as Lara seemed sluggish and a little off the pace. But Lara’s dangerous left grazed Wood’s chin in the third. Wood was getting the best of the exchanges in a fight with less drama than the first by the halfway point. This suited Wood. That left was close to landing flush again in the eighth of a slow-burning rematch. Wood’s right hand landed stiffly in the ninth as he appeared to bank more rounds near the fight’s conclusion. Picking his shots and utilizing his footwork, he regained his WBA world featherweight title by scores of 118-109 twice and 116-111.

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The story began when Leigh Wood, the reigning WBA featherweight world titleholder, picked the hardest possible voluntary challenger, who had previously destroyed former No.1 featherweight, Josh Warrington in a non-title fight. He could have chosen an easier voluntary or waited for another mandatory after defending against Michael Conlan in the spring of 2022.

Unfortunately, their October title fight was postponed when the Nottingham fighter was injured in training camp. Most assumed it would be thrown to the wayside, and it be convenient for Wood to move on. However, the champion pushed for the title clash to be rescheduled, which it was in February of this year.

Both men oozed confidence going into their first fight. The champion was boxing well and ahead on all three scorecards, before being stopped by a mammoth left hook in the seventh. He didn’t have it all his own way in the intriguing and bruising battle, though. Wood’s trainer, Ben Davison threw in the towel to allow his man to fight another day and secure the rematch. It was smart and compassionate thinking from the 34-year-old’s head trainer.

Eddie Hearn advised patience in the aftermath, but Wood wanted nothing but the immediate rematch, boasting of having zero doubt that it would be revenge rather than repeat in the rematch. Nothing else would motivate him enough to lace up the gloves.

‘Bronco’s’ camp were happy to oblige, in the knowledge that Wood did likewise for them when Lara was the most-avoided featherweight on the planet.

As excitement built for the rematch at Manchester Arena, Eddie Hearn announced that Lara had been informed by the British Boxing Board of Control that he was not permitted to weigh less than 128.5 pounds. This was due to missing a check-weight target, and in their opinion being unsafe to make the championship weight.

At Friday’s weigh-in, the fully stripped Mexican weighed 129.8 pounds compared to Leigh’s 125.9 pounds. It was essentially a super-featherweight fighting a featherweight, and obviously, only the featherweight could win the title.

Wood had shredded every ounce he could to make the championship weight. That combined with Lara’s lack thereof, infuriated Ben Davison, who labeled it “a disgrace.”

At no point did Wood want to refuel himself sooner and even up the weight, thus making himself ineligible to fight for the WBA 126-pound title. His goal was to become a two-time featherweight king.

The fact that Lara didn’t even try to get close to the 128.5 pound target illustrates a lack of effort to make the fight as fair as possible. Has discipline been the issue, or has the 25-year-old outgrown the division overnight?

Throughout the rivalry, the warriors have possessed the utmost respect for each other. There has been no need for hyperbole and histrionics to sell the fights. Their behavior has been extremely admirable, as has their equal desire to face each other twice. It’s refreshing to see the best want to fight the best.

Even on the morning of fight day, murmurs reverberated on Twitter for the fight to be pulled. A tough task for Leigh Wood became an even more daunting mission due to the weight discrepancy. Lara was deducted 25% of his purse and ordered not to rehydrate above 132.6 pounds.

Having now reclaimed his belt in the rematch, a dream of a fight at the City Ground is again a possibility.

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