By: Hans Themistode
Michael Conlan had always dreamed of becoming a world champion. With roughly one minute and 30 seconds remaining on the clock in his first crack at championship gold against secondary WBA featherweight titlist Leigh Wood, Conlan was only a few feet away from crossing the finish line.
However, as Conlan began momentarily taking his eyes off the prize, Wood made him pay. Desperate to protract his world title reign and down ever so slightly on all three judges’ scorecards, Wood threw everything he had at the former Olympian in the final two rounds.
Wood’s comeback began in the 11th, as he scored his first knockdown of the night. In the following frame, with Conlan pinned against the ropes, Wood connected on a sharp straight right hand that saw Conlan’s body immediately go limp. Wood would then unload a barrage on unanswered shots until Conlan’s motionless body was hurled from the ring.
Having had the chance to re-watch the first defeat of his career, Conlan reveals that he has nothing but reverence for his man. Nevertheless, he’s now angling for a chance at redemption.
“Watched the fight, I definitely need to run it back,” said Conlan on his social media account. “Up on the cards & 11th was a slip, fatigue was kicking in & I was caught on the temple with a good shot I didn’t see. Respect Leigh Wood.”
Initially, Conlan couldn’t have asked for a better start to their showdown which took place late last night at the Nottingham Arena. Conlan floored his man in the waning seconds of the opening round and would go on to mostly outbox the secondary titlist during long stretches.
Still, regardless of Conlan enjoying his moments of success, Wood refused to give up. He continually pushed Conlan back and made him work on the inside. His nonstop pressure came in handy in the championship rounds, as Conlan appeared to be running on fumes.
Ultimately, the defeat for Conlan is a tough pill to swallow. Judge Leszek Jankowiak had the former Olympian up by three points heading into the final round, handing in a scorecard of 105-102. Judge Guillermo Perez Pineda and Bob Williams also had Conlan up by a slight margin, turning in identical scorecards of 104-103 at the time of the stoppage.
As Wood’s head bounced off the canvas in the first round, Conlan continued to hurt the featherweight titlist at various points throughout the night. Despite being noticeably upset by how things ultimately played out following his strong start, no excuses will be made by Conlan. Instead, the former Olympian simply tips his cap to his fellow man as he makes his case for the pair to share the ring once more.
“Congrats again, you’re a tough f*cker but let’s run it back.”
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