In a very questionable corner stoppage, WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood (26-3, 16 KOs) was pulled out by his trainer Ben Davison after he’d been knocked down in the seventh round by challenger Mauricio Lara (26-2-1, 19 KOs) at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, England.
Davison’s decision to throw in the towel will be second-guessed by many boxing fans because it looked premature. The way Wood looked after he got back to his feet, he appeared fine and ready to resume the fight.
It’s possible that Davison made up his mind that he would stop the fight after Wood went down and failed to recognize that he’d regained his senses.
Wood looked hurt momentarily after he was caught by a sledgehammer left hook from the 24-year-old Lara in the seventh round. The shot from the Mexican warrior Lara caught the 34-year-old Wood on the chin, sending him down like a rock on the canvas.
Wood was so hurt that he didn’t brace the fall, and he looked out of it for a brief second while on the canvas. Nevertheless, after Wood got to his feet, he looked like he’d fully recovered. Unfortunately, at that moment, his corner Ben Davison chose to toss the towel into the ring.
Moments after the fight, Wood’s promoter Eddie Hearn stated that he plans on exercising the rematch clause to force newly crowned WBA featherweight champion Lara to return for another fight.
What’s unclear is whether Wood & Hearn will force the second fight with Lara immediately or if they’ll wait to allow him to fight Josh Warrington in a trilogy match first. The problem with Wood waiting is if Lara loses to Warrington, it would keep him from getting a chance for immediate redemption.
Obviously, Wood would take the fight with Warrington rather than facing Lara again, and it would taint him and the entire promotion for that fight. It would look like he was afraid of fighting Lara.
Wood struggled in the first two rounds, getting shaken up by a left hook from Lara in the second, and cut from a clash of heads. After round two, Wood came back and was in control of the fight with the body shots and sharp right hands he was nailing Lara with.
In the sixth, Lara looked discouraged and tired, as Wood was dominating him with body & headshots. Lara was seemingly demoralized heading into the seventh.
Wood perhaps got overconfident at that point and failed to recognize that Lara was still at full strength. He just wasn’t throwing as many punches as he’d done in the first three rounds.