LEIGH WOOD wasn’t about to let three and a half pounds stand between him and his dream of gaining revenge over Mauricio Lara, an opponent who beat him in heartbreaking circumstances only a few months ago. Plenty felt his team, or the British Boxing Board of Control, should have been the ones to cancel the bout after the Mexican failed to make weight correctly, however.

It wasn’t a decision that was made in haste. There was real concern. Assurances were sought on the day of the contest that Lara, already stripped of his featherweight belt, had not ballooned too much overnight. He hadn’t. The fight was to go ahead, the risk was worth taking.

Six days before, Chris Billam-Smith woke up feeling unwell and by Tuesday and Wednesday he was losing fluids to the point his fight with Lawrence Okolie was in real danger. Isaac Chamberlain, set to appear on the undercard, was put on standby should the illness have proved too severe for Billam-Smith to make his challenge.

By Friday, the day of the weigh-in, the colour had returned to his cheeks and liquid was staying put inside his gut. Truth is, if Lara had weighed 100 pounds more than Wood and Billam-Smith had still been vomiting on Saturday morning, neither disadvantaged boxer would have willingly surrendered their chance to fight. It’s what fighters do, it’s what sets them apart from the rest of us, it’s what makes them our very own superheroes. It’s what makes protecting them so difficult.

Today, the stories of Wood and Billam-Smith are of the feel-good variety. Any talk of worst-case scenarios has been forgotten and, in a sport that’s been easy to criticise in recent months, is largely unwelcome. We can conclude that the decisions to allow Wood and Billam-Smith to fight were the correct ones. Though foresight spoke of potential disaster, hindsight – the only thing that counts when looking back – shows two careers that were never destined to reach such heights now standing proudly on the mountain top. They’re reminders of how great boxing is, of the dreams it makes and the lives it changes for the better.

Don’t ruin that by asking what if, we’re now told, don’t spoil the moment by caring too much. Boxers take part in bouts all the time with far more to worry about than a dicky tummy or an opponent who weighs a bit more than they do, after all. No contest comes without risk. Every fight is a gamble in some way. No boxer is safe.

We know that because they sometimes leave the ring on a stretcher. The plight of Ludumo Lamati, who hasn’t opened his eyes since being knocked out by Nick Ball in Belfast, barely an hour before Wood and Billam-Smith prevailed, provides perhaps the most poignant message of the entire weekend. His team have been forced to return to South Africa after doctors told them that Lamati will remain in a coma for at least a week. If and when he wakes, he will do so alone.

Boxers are the bravest of athletes. We watch in awe at what they somehow do. The life they chose for themselves is a dangerous one, they’ll all tell you they know that. With that in mind, it’s perhaps not for the likes of you and me, those who merely watch from the sidelines, to pass judgement on those choices. Heart-wrenching losses occur, great victories are crafted, and fairytales are written and ripped up in the process. It is not for those of us on the outside to get too involved or attempt to venture too deep.

We can rightly say that safety, the most precarious of words when used in the context of boxing, should always be the priority of those in positions of power, irrespective of dreams being momentarily dashed or money being lost. Ultimately, rightly or wrongly, the decision to fight will nearly always be for the boxer to make.

We should not downplay the achievements of Billam-Smith or Wood, that is not the aim here. Both men defied the odds to fulfil their ambitions, to remind everyone how heroic they really are. Let’s be thankful for them, for their efforts, and for everything they put themselves through in the pursuit of victory.

Their false sense of invincibility is both a blessing and a curse. Without it, the stories we’re now so proud to tell simply would not have occurred. We can’t have it both ways.