Mauricio Lara stops Leigh Wood with monster left hook to win title

Mauricio Lara might not be welcome in the U.K. again.

The hard-punching Mexican, who handed Josh Warrington his first loss by knockout two years ago in Leeds, stopped hometown fighter and WBA featherweight titleholder Leigh Wood with a single left hook in the seventh round Saturday in Nottingham.

Thus, Lara (26-2-1, 19 KOs) became a world titleholder for the first time.

“To become world champion is a dream I’ve had since I was 8 years of age,” Lara said through a translator. “… Leigh Wood is a great champion, he hits really hard, he’s an intelligent boxer. I’m absolutely delighted tonight.”


— Spinnin Backfist (@SpinninBackfist) February 18, 2023

Wood (26-3, 16 KOs) was coming off the biggest victory of his career, a 12th-round knockout of Irishman Michael Conlan in the 2022 Fight of the Year last March that earned him a great deal of respect worldwide.

And he was in the process of building on that momentum Saturday, as he seemed to be in control of the fight until the final moments even though he was cut in the opening round.

Wood couldn’t miss with his straight right, whether he was throwing it to Lara’s head or body. He also mixed in left hooks in what was shaping up to be an impressive defense of his cherished title.

Lara also was able to land at times – including some sharp blows that reminded everyone of his power – but he couldn’t match Wood’s all-around skills or work rate. That’s why Boxing Junkie gave Wood five of the first six rounds.

Then everything changed in a split second. The two were exchanging punches when Lara connected with a perfect left hook flush on Wood’s chin about 20 seconds before the end of Round 7, which put him down and hurt him badly.

Wood was able to get up but his legs were wobbly. Still, it appeared referee Michael Alexander was going to allow the fight to continue. However, Wood’s trainer, Ben Davison, didn’t like what he saw from his fighter and ended the fight then and there.

The official time of the stoppage was 2:54, only six seconds before the end of the round.

Wood, emotional afterward, was asked whether he thought he could’ve continued.

“I’m a fighter,” he said. “I want to go until I can’t f—ing see anything any more. Congratulations to Lara. He’s a great fighter. I made a mistake, and I paid for it.”

A rematch clause in the contract for the fight gives Wood the right to a second shot at Lara. And the promoter of both men, Eddie Hearn, suggested after the fight that his countryman will exercise the option either immediately or soon.

Lara, on an emotional high, said he wants more of what he earned on Saturday when he was asked what might come next.

“I want to get more belts, I want to get as many as I can,” he said. “It’s up to Eddie Hearn to make that decision.”

Leave a Reply