Wood wins back the WBA featherweight title with victory over Lara

Leigh Wood wins back the WBA featherweight title with unanimous decision victory over Mauricio Lara – as he regains his belt after agreeing to go ahead with the bout despite the Mexican failing to make the weight

  • Leigh Wood showed discipline to beat Mauricio Lara after 12 rounds on Saturday
  • Woods won the verdict on all three cards, reclaiming his WBA featherweight belt
  • The Brit landed a strong left hook in the penultimate round to stun the Mexican 

Leigh Wood pulled off one of the biggest gambles in the recent history of British boxing as he regained his world featherweight title from the Mexican danger man who had dropped him in him in his tracks three months ago.

By risking an immediate rematch against the biggest puncher in the featherweight division and then by agreeing to go ahead with this fight even after Maurico Laura had failed to make weight and been stripped of that WBA belt, Wood reach out for legendary status.

Confirmation of that could await him if he goes on to a championship unification fight with Luis Alberto Lopez, who on this same Saturday night over in Belfast demolished Ulster’s precocious Michael Conlan.

Wood climbed into the ranks of two-time world champions with a consummate boxing performance laced with the courage required to fight through a nasty cut over his left eye, which was inflicted by one of Lara’s more successful sorties of the evening.

Wood had defied all the doubts about him rushing into this rematch and the warnings not to put himself in jeopardy against an opponent who had bulked up on the scales.

Leigh Wood won back the WBA featherweight title with victory over Mauricio Lara on Saturday

Lara was stripped of his WBA featherweight title after missing the required weight on Friday

There was not so much of the drama of the first fight, in which Wood played the victim, even though the only legitimate knock-down here in the Manchester Arena was inflicted on Lara in the second start. That fast start saw him through to a safe majority decision and this time it was class not strength that prevailed.

Wood had said ever since the devastating February loss that he knew how to beat the man who put him through that devastation.

He not only proved himself right but did it against all the disadvantages…..and with style.

Once the goodie bags had been divvied up.

A sweet chunk of Lara’s fine for failing to make the weight went to greasing Wood’s palm.

Lara was allowed to add to bis bulk as many extra pounds overnight as Wood deemed fair and reasonable.

The pair traded blows during the 12-round contest, before the Brit won by unanimous decision

That sorted, they were ready to get it on in the ring.

The clinching incentive for Wood to take the risk, of course, was that while Lara was ineligible to regain the title of which he had been stripped on the scales on Friday, victory would make larruping Leigh a world champion for a second time.

Money talks in boxing. As it does in every sport these days. So the show must go on.

So the Arena began to fill, boosted by walk-ups from a lazy afternoon spent sipping ale on one of these rare sunshine days in Manchester.

Few wanted to go home early on such a balmy evening and the ticket touts suddenly found business brisk.

The crowd made fun of Lara’s arrival among them, chanting ‘you, fat b******.’

The 34-year-old boxer celebrates jubilantly in Manchester after regaining the prestigious belt

Lara was more circumspect than at the start of the first fight, allowing Wood to take the first round. The second was significantly better for Wood. Sensationally so as he dropped the biggest puncher in the flyweight division with a right uppercut of his own. Lara was rocked again in the third as Wood established a commanding early lead.

The Mexican reverted to setting traps and in his wariness of the power Wood let Lara take his first round on my card. Then the next as he drew Wood’s guard down with body punching then opened a cut above his left eye with a series of right hooks.

The seventh had been fateful for Wood three months earlier in Nottingham but he not only survived that round here but won it with some masterful boxing.

Wood’s corner were taking good care of the cut but in his caution their man was allowing Lara back into the fight incrementally. But in pulling out the tenth he probably made his early lead safe. Even safer as Lara became frustrated and was outboxed as they headed for the finish.

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