LEIGH WOOD dropped and dominated Mauricio Lara to rip the world featherweight belt back from the monstrous Mexican puncher.
Just three months after being brutally knocked out, Wood went against the wishes of his own promotional team by exercising his rematch clause.
PALeigh Wood celebrates winning back the world title[/caption]
And he was almost denied his shot at redemption all together when the British Boxing Board of Control refused to let Lara weigh in at the 126lb limit.
So instead he came in at 129.8lb – losing the belt on the scales – but still Wood pressed ahead with the bout.
And his giant roll of the dice paid off as he put on a clinic inside the Manchester Arena over 12 rounds.
Wood, 34, floored Lara, 25, with a perfectly-timed right uppercut in round two and never looked back.
He bossed the action throughout off his spearing jab, sharp feints and flashy combinations.
Lara – always carrying the power to close the show at any given moment – struggled to gain any kind of momentum.
Potentially feeling the effects of the weight cut, he made it far too easy for Wood to find his rhythm and run away with it.
Wood thanked his coaches Ben Davison and Lee Wylie as he celebrated winning back the WBA belt.
He said: “I wasn’t losing tonight, Mauricio Lara is a great fighter but I’ve got a great team, I knew what I had to do.
“Ben guided me well, Lee Wylie guided me well, that shot I put him down with, we come up with that and drilled it time and time again and it worked. Just a massive thank you to my team.
“That’s what I’m here for, I’m here for hard fights. I’m here for fights that it’s that nip-and-tuck, I may get beat but guess what? I come back and beat them.”
On the same night, Michael Conlan – who Wood knocked out in 2022 – was stopped in similar fashion by Luis Alberto Lopez.
So Wood is ready to unify against Lopez or welcome avid Leeds fan Josh Warrington to Nottingham Forest’s City Ground.
Wood said: “I think Warrington makes sense.
“Did Lopez win tonight or Conlan? Who won? Lopez unification fight, even bigger. I can get my teeth sunk into that.
“Whoever, I’ve probably got two fights left; City Ground is one of them, a unification could be the other.
“I just want big fights and like I said, I want a happy ending.”
ReutersMauricio Lara was floored with a right uppercut[/caption]
GettyMauricio Lara got back to his feet[/caption]
PALeigh Wood celebrates with coach Ben Davison[/caption]