By Sean Crose
Leigh Wood once again became the WBA world featherweight champion by defeating Mauricio Lara this weekend at the AO Arena in Manchester, England. Lara, the man who won the belt from Wood earlier this year, actually lost the title Friday at weight. Despite this, Wood was ordered to become WBA Champion again, provided he defeated Lara in the ring, which he did on Saturday.
Wood wisely kept his distance in the first, opting to shoot from distance. The challenger continued the jab in the second second while stopping the defending champion from successfully landing. Indeed, Wood sent Lara to the mat in the last minute of the round with a one-two combination. Lara quickly got to her feet, but this was a significant development. In the third, Wood once again kept his distance intelligently, successfully operating his jab.
Lara stated that he wasn’t able to do anything particularly meaningful in the fourth, as Wood would hold when the melee opportunity presented itself. Lopez was aggressive in the fifth, clearly hoping to land his man like when he knocked out Wood in their first battle. This time, however, Wood seemed prepared to challenge Lopez’s power by keeping his distance and timing his enemy’s punches.
With that in mind, Lopez hit a solid shot in the first part of the sixth. However, Wood was too careful to let the defending champion land like this with frequency. Midway through the fight, the fight clearly belonged to Wood. Indeed, Wood was still boxing great in seventh place. Lopez even backtracked at times.
By the eighth, it was obvious that Wood had successfully turned the bout into a chess match, seriously increasing his chances of winning. Lopez may have been desperate for a proper landing, but Wood stuck to his hit and miss plan. Now in good control of the fight, Wood went through the ninth.
In the tenth, Lopez seemed to be held back by Lara’s stares as well as his feints and head movements. Lopez then began throwing desperately at the man he had once defeated. At one point, he slipped on the mat, which may have damaged his wrist. The eleventh offered more of what Wood and his team wanted. Wood apparently came up with a brilliant game plan and ran it until the twelfth and final round.
No one was probably surprised when Wood received the referee’s decision after winning the match.