Leigh Wood was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards and well on his way to victory before Mauricio Lara produced a frightening left hook to end proceedings early.
Wood had taken the voluntary defence of his WBA Featherweight title against the advice of many pundits and fans who rightfully recognised Lara as the division’s danger man.
Still, the Nottingham native wouldn’t be deterred and decided to trade up with the Mexican in front of a loyal home crowd at the Motorpoint Arena.
Both men were caught during the contest by shots thrown with serious intent, and it did look like the pace was taking its toll on Lara as Wood began to rack up points and look more comfortable.
When the pair entered the seventh, the champion was up on all three cards – as shared by Dan Rafael – with scores of 58-56, 58-56, and 59-55. It didn’t look like the tide was turning either, with all judges giving the nod to Wood from the third round onwards.
Official #WoodLara scorecard. Wood was up on all three cards when he got knocked out. #boxingpic.twitter.com/m17QA0eavC
— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) February 19, 2023
Unfortunately for the hometown man, and as predicted by almost everybody, the scorecards were useless.
Fans were promised a stoppage, and that’s exactly what they got when the two fighters looked to trade left hooks and Lara’s landed punch-perfect on the chin of Wood.
He hit the canvas heavily, although showed the true grit of a champion to make it back to his feet for the count. Just as the referee was to let the action continue with less than ten seconds on the clock before the bell, his trainer, Ben Davison, threw in the towel.
Wood protested and there has been an ongoing discussion since as to the corner’s decision, but it was clear Davison’s fighter was hurt and that his legs weren’t beneath him.