September 26, 2023

A disaster of a week for Maurico Lara came to a close on Saturday when he dropped a unanimous decision to Leigh Wood, who walked away from the rematch with the WBA featherweight title. Lara had already lost the title before the fight began, having badly missed weight, but an uninspired performance certainly didn’t ease the sting of no longer being world champion.

During a weight check on Wednesday, the British Boxing Board of Control made it clear they would not allow Lara to cut the weight he would need to make the featherweight limit on Friday. Lara came in nearly four pounds heavy as a result and fought 12 rounds like a man who was not close to ideal shape.

Lara won the first meeting between the two, getting outboxed for six rounds before a crushing left hook put Wood down and forced his corner to throw in the towel. It was a very different story on Saturday in Manchester, England.

In the second round, Wood landed a sharp right uppercut that sent Lara to the canvas. Lara was able to get to his feet quickly and was back throwing punches once the fight was resumed, but the moment was one that shifted the complexion of the rivalry by showing Wood had the pop to put Lara down.

As was the case in the first fight, Wood’s straight right was a consistently effective weapon, splitting Lara’s guard for some big connections. Wood built on that by being the busier man and constantly controlling distance as Lara struggled to get any momentum going at all.

If Lara’s conditioning was affected by the weight troubles, it was not helped when Wood continued to focus a jab to his body. In the moments where Lara did get inside and attempt to let his hands go, Wood simply clinched and smothered Lara’s efforts.

Lara mostly stayed on his back foot, seemingly looking for a single counter shot to steal the fight as he got outboxed round after round. While that strategy may have worked in February, it resulted in lopsided scorecards in the rematch.

The official scorecards read 118-109, 118-109 and 116-111, kicking off Wood’s second run as world champion at featherweight.

“What a feeling,” Wood said after the fight. “You know, I’ve had a fairy tale career and this time I got my f—ing fairy tale ending. … I wasn’t losing no matter what. 10 pounds, whatever. I wasn’t losing tonight.”

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