A critical look at the past week in boxing
THE BIGGEST WINNERS
Leigh Wood, Alexis Rocha, Luis Alberto Lopez
Wood, Rocha and Lopez gave impressive performances on Saturday at various venues. Wood (27-3, 16 KOs) stood out. First, he made a bold move by facing Maurcio Lara (26-3-1, 19 KOs) in an instant rematch after Lara knocked him out in February. Secondly, he agreed to go through the fight even though Lara was over three pounds overweight. The British star’s confidence paid off. He fell and outclassed his Mexican counterpart to win broad decision, regain the 126-pound title he lost in his first fight and become one of the best in his division in Manchester, England. Rocha (23-1, 15 KOs) consolidated his position as a full-fledged 147-pound fighter by methodically defeating and retaining the talented Anthony Young (24-3, 8 KOs) in five rounds in Indio, California. Wants the winner of the Terence Crawford-Errol Spence Jr fight in his next fight. Could Rocha compete with such superstars? Well, he’s earned the right to try. And the 126-pound champion Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs) looked like a beast against Michael Conlan (18-2, 9 KOs), detention of the two-time Irish Olympian one punch in the fifth round in Conlan’s hometown of Belfast. A clumsy but effective offensive player, Lopez is a threat to anyone in the featherweight division.
Duel between Terence Crawford AND Errol Spence Jr. it is finally set for July 29 in Las Vegas. I wish the 30-year-olds had fought a few years ago, but I don’t want to dwell on the negatives. They remain two of the best in the industry. We should celebrate. … Some might argue that Lara got what she deserved after losing so much weight. No excuse is good enough. If you can’t make weight in one division, go up. He is a dangerous fighter due to his power. He should do well at 130 pounds. … Lopez called out his fellow 126 lb champions (Wood, King Vargas AND Robe Ramirez) after his victory. I think it can be a problem for everyone because of its style. … Conlan has been stopped in two of his last four fights. Might end up as an elite fighter. …
Wood said after his win that he would like to face the former titleholder Josh Warrington or one of the aforementioned featherweight champions. Normally I would aim for title unification, but Wood vs. Warrington would be a big deal in the UK. Remember, Warrington was retained by Lara in 2021 and lost the belt to Lopez by majority decision in December. I see Wood taking this fight and then going into a unification fight. … Lawrence area (19-1, 14 KOs) fell hard on the lineup of an undefeated Saturday in England losing by majority decision and his 200-pound countryman title Chris Billam-Smith (18-1, 12 KOs) in a crazy fight. Okolie fell three times and lost two points for holding, which did not give him a chance to win the fight. Judge Benjamin Rodriguez somehow he went 112-112 despite the five points conceded by Okolie. Some called Rodriguez’s scorecard “the worst ever”. Other scores were more appropriate, 116-107 and 115-108.