By: Sean Crose
Leigh Wood is once again the WBA featherweight champion of the world after besting 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 on the scales. Still, it was ordered that Wood should once again be WBA champion, provided he beat Lara in the ring, which he did on Saturday.
Wood wisely kept his distance in the first, opting to fire from range. The challenger continued to flick out his jab in the second while keeping the defending champion from landing effectively. Sure enough, Wood sent Lara to the mat in the final minute of the round with a one-two combination. Lara quickly got back to his feet, but it was a telling development. The third saw Wood intelligently keeping his distance once again, while effectively operating his jab.
Lara found he wasn’t able to do anything particularly substantial in the fourth, as Wood would hold when the opportunity arrived for the fight to go to close quarters. Lopez was aggressive in the fifth, clearly hoping to land on his man as he had when he knocked Wood out in their first battle. This time, however, Wood seemed prepared to face Lopez’ power through maintaining his distance and timing his foe’s punches.
With that being said, Lopez landed a solid shot in the first part of the sixth. Yet Wood was too wary to allow the defending champion to land like that with frequency. At the midway of the fight, the bout clearly belonged to Wood. Sure enough, Wood continued to box brilliantly in the seventh. Lopez even took to backing up at times.
It was obvious by the eighth that Wood had successfully made the fight into a chess match, which seriously upped his odds of winning. Lopez may have been desperately looking to land with relevancy, but Wood kept sticking to his plan of hitting and not getting hit. Now well in control of the bout, Wood cruised through the ninth.
In the tenth, Lopez looked to be kept at bay by the looks Lara would offer, as well as his feints and head movement. Lopez subsequently took to throwing desperately at the man he had once vanquished. He ended up slipping to the mat at one point, which may have bothered his wrist. The eleventh offered more of the same, which is exactly what Wood and his team wanted. Wood had clearly come up with a brilliant game plan, and he carried it up to and through the twelfth and final round.
No one was likely surprised when Wood was awarded the decision win from the judges after the match had ended.
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