Leigh Wood will never have a bigger, better or more dramatic moment in a boxing ring than Saturday night’s 12th round against Michael Conlan, yet the compassion and control the 33-year-old featherweight world champion showed post-fight was almost more remarkable than the chopping right hand that sealed Conlan’s fate.
Wood attempted to temper the bedlam inside the Nottingham Arena acting as the calmest man in the chaotic room – considering the way that “Leigh-thal” retained his world title, it’s testament to the fighter and the man that his first thought was of the fallen Irishman.
Conlan’s name is added to Xu Can’s of pre-fight favourites that Wood has stopped in the 12th round of a championship contest. Wood struggled for a majority of Saturday’s fight against the accurate, slick challenger, but increased work to the body in the latter stages of the fight paid dividends in the final stanzas as the Nottingham fighter found openings, underlining his late power once again at 126lbs.
“Clutch” isn’t a term often used in boxing but it can be proudly tattooed on the chest and heart of Leigh Wood. His vulnerabilities and ability to turn the tide are making his fights unmissable.
A few hours post-fight, Conlan posted to his Twitter account, “I’m all good folks, cheers for the messages. I’ll be back, good shot and congrats to Leigh and his team.”
It was a huge relief.
I felt genuinely unsettled at the end of Saturday night’s barn-burner as Conlan fell upside down through the ropes towards the floor. He’d taken more and more licks from the brick fists of Wood in the second half of the fight and appeared to be running on empty as the bell tolled for the 12th.
It’s impossible not to assume the worst when you see a fighter knocked out cold, shoulders slumped and legs jellied. Add to that the complications of falling out of the ring and the mind races.
Handing him a WINNERS spot isn’t a condescending act of sympathy, but more recognition of his role in one of the most entertaining fights I’ve seen in a few years.
British ringside paramedic team
This is a very loose point, but British boxing rings seem to be at the very top when it comes to the health and safety of fighters.
Conlan was seen to by ringside paramedics in a matter of seconds on Saturday night and stretchered out of the area within minutes.
Fine margins apply in health as they do in sport and Conlan’s speedy recovery was no doubt aided by the fantastic staff and protocols employed by Matchroom Boxing & the British Boxing Board of Control.
Kudos. And god bless the NHS.
British Boxing Board of Control
Oh, speaking of...
Last Thursday, the British Boxing Board of Control demoted Ian John-Lewis following his abysmal 114-111 scorecard in favour of the champion at Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall.
But no, BBBoC gonna BBBoC.
The statement also read that “Mr. John-Lewis’ scorecard did not affect the overall result of the contest” in true parody style – in a fight that ended in a Split Decision win for Taylor if you’ve been living under a peaceful rock.
Sometimes you say it best if you say nothing at all.
It’s back to the drawing board for Sandy Ryan.
Derby’s super-lightweight dropped her 0 to now 27-5 experienced, former two-weight world champion Erica Anabella Farias in a fight where the home favourite was outworked and outhustled.
Ryan couldn’t get her combinations going in the fight and was handedly beaten to the punch by the Argentinean who showed impressive workrate for a 37-year-old.
Neglecting her jab, Ryan allowed the away fighter ample opportunity to make her mark on the fight and Farias obliged.
The biggest shock of the evening arguably came when the Split Decision victory was announced for Farias – it felt like one of those incoming robbery incidents watching in real time.
Conor Benn vs Chris van Heerden
Saying how much this fight stinks is only out of respect for Conor Benn.
Benn is now one of the lead protagonists at Eddie Hearn’s DAZN stable and the promoter’s dependency on Benn fulfilling his unquestionable talent is seeping into the matchmaking.
The “Destroyer” is 20-0 and six years into his pro journey – gatekeeper welterweight veterans should be well in the rear view mirror by now.