The Monday LunchBox

New WBA world featherweight champion Mauricio Lara drops Leigh Wood.

Mexico has a rich tradition of diminutive fighting men with punches that kick like a mule. Mauricio ‘Bronco’ Lara (26-2-1, 19 KO’s) lived up to his nickname and enhanced the national reputation. He excelled in sensationally flooring local man Leigh Wood (26-3, 16 KO’s) with a devastating left hook in the seventh to win the WBA world featherweight (126lbs/9st) title Saturday night in Nottingham, England.

The nature of the fight and ultimate victory was compulsive viewing on DAZN. The champion Wood making his second title defence was boxing well, was ahead, and seemingly stretching to a points victory, then BOOM ! Both fighters detonated left hooks on each other simultaneously, but the Mexican’s had the greater impact and Wood hit the canvas.

Rising on unsteady legs, referee Michael Alexander asked whether Wood was ready to continue, and looking as though that was possible the champion’s cornerman Ben Davison saw the danger and compassionately threw the towel into the ring. The fight was immediately waved off after 2:54 of the round.

Davison’s call was deemed by some to be premature and Wood instinctively protested, but no one can ever fault the safety of his fighter being paramount, saving the 34 year old ex-champion to fight another day.

As predicted on these pages it was a gruelling fight with Wood cut in the first from a clash of heads, some heavy exchanges and a knockdown to finish. The Matchroom promotion was enhanced by the electric atmosphere created by the Wood faithful in a sell out Nottingham Motorpoint Arena supporting their local hero with gusto.

The defeated Wood, The Ring magazine #5 coming in, still has plenty of options; a contracted immediate rematch or, a rematch with Irishman Michael Conlan who he stopped in the final round in March 2022 in The Ring Fight of the Year. He also has the domestic option of fighting former IBF world champion Josh Warrington, who was at ringside.

The new champion Lara, The Ring #3, and arguably now the best featherweight in the world also has similar options. He’s obligated to a Wood rematch but also has eyes on a Warrington trilogy fight. The money on offer in the UK may draw the new champion there again, and he will be more than welcome to visit those shores.

At only 24 years old and despite having some technical limitations he has a bright future ahead and that KO power will always be the leveller that may see him through to greater and more victories. At the end of the night you got the sense you’d watched another Ruben Olivares, Carlos Zarate, Julio Cesar Chavez or Marco Antonio Barrera; a Mexican now showcased to a UK audience, who could go on to be another to add that country’s glorious list of fighters. We look forward to watching his journey.

This weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the Ringside Charitable Trust.

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