Last March, Leigh Wood was forced to come back from down big on the scorecards to score a Hail Mary Knockout of the Year against Michael Conlan in the 12th round. On Saturday, Wood appeared to have a clear lead over Mauricio Lara as the second half of the fight began, only to suffer his own comeback knockout loss. Wood ceded his WBA world featherweight champion to Lara in front of Wood's hometown crowd in Nottingham, England, when he was stopped in the seventh round.
Wood and Lara was a pairing expected to produce fireworks and the fight did deliver plenty of action until a fight-finishing hook from Lara.
Lara had solid moments in the second round, including landing a big right hand that briefly buckled Wood's legs. Wood was saved from the ensuing Lara onslaught when the bell sounded to end the round.
After being hurt and sporting a large cut over his left eye from a headbutt, Wood put together a tremendous third round to pull himself right back into the fight. A blueprint for success emerged for Wood in the round, with sharp lead right hands cutting through openings in Lara's defense.
Wood continued to follow that plan for the next several rounds, mixing in digging shots to the ribs that combined with the high pace of the fight to seemingly fatigue Lara, who began breathing with his mouth open.
Wood's timing and speed firmly took over, even as he was clearly aware of the danger Lara's power presented. As Lara would come forward trying to use that power to flip the momentum back in his direction, Wood would land crisp counters and escape danger.
It only takes one punch to turn a fight around, however, and Lara found that punch late in the seventh round. With Wood firmly in control and pulling away on the scorecards, both men loaded up left hooks. It was Lara's hook that landed first, dropping Wood to his back.
While Wood was able to beat the count, he looked briefly unsteady on his feet. As the referee was ready to allow the fight to continue, and with Lara waiting to launch an attack, Wood's corner threw in the towel, ending the fight as Wood protested the decision.
The official time of the stoppage was the 2:54 mark of the seventh round. All three official scorecards had Wood up by scores of 58-56, 58-56 and 59-55 at the time of the stoppage.
After the fight, promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed that Wood did have a rematch clause in the contract as the defending champion, with Wood confirming he wanted another crack at Lara by simply saying, "Absolutely."