JUST 12 short weeks had passed since Gedling’s Leigh Wood, cut from an early head clash and floored heavily from a huge left, was rescued by his corner late in the seventh, his WBA featherweight strap duly passing to heavy-handed Mexican Mauricio Lara.
Not that Lara still that belt by the time this rematch came along. He was stripped on the eve of the bout after the British Boxing Board of Control, unhappy with a check-weight in the days prior, quite rightly deemed it unsafe for him to attempt to make the championship weight of 126lbs.
Lara was informed that he must scale no less than 128.5lbs and without a shred of clothing on his body, he duly came in just a smidge under 130. Game on, but a far from an ideal situation which left Wood – wanting to fight and presumably well recompensed – the only one able to claim the title should he prove victorious.
Barely had the chants of ‘You fat bastard’ from the Trentside army subsided when Lara was floored, a right uppercut and a cuffing left with 30 seconds of the second still to run sitting him down momentarily in centre ring. He’d actually been over earlier in the session but referee Steve Gray had ruled a push and there was no count.
A degree of déjà vu saw the Nottingham man pick up a cut above the left eye when heads clashed in the fourth, fortunately for him though the wound didn’t worsen sufficiently enough to pose a problem.
His lead widening against an opponent not quite as threatening as past form had led us to believe, Leigh steered clear of trouble, kept on the move, jabbed downstairs and regularly switched direction. Those tactics served him well with Lara, increasingly frustrated, unable to land anything of sufficient substance to turn the tide. The Mexican’s disappointment – both in his own form and his inability to replicate success from the first scrap – was clear when he shoved Gray’s hands away when being admonished for a transgression of the rules late on.
Scores of 118-109 (twice) and a closer one of 116-111 in Leigh’s favour confirmed what the sizeable Nottingham contingent in the arena already knew. In the end, after the concerning events on the scales, this was the fairest conclusion.
In a first outing since falling to that incredibly contentious multi-title loss against Josh Taylor Chorley super-lightweight Jack Catterall returned in a 10-rounder against Irishman Darragh Foley and won widely. Key to it all for Jack was a jab, ever present, fast, accurate and regularly handed out in triplicate.
Darragh, pressing but trailing, touched down momentarily after being tagged by a corker of a left around a minute into the seventh and was counted by referee Howard Foster who then immediately called a time-out and docked Catterall a point for landing another punch as Foley righted himself, thus effectively negating the knockdown. No such problems two rounds later though when a left cross sent Darragh over backwards in centre ring.
It wasn’t all pretty, there were a number of low blows, some noted, some not and one from Catterall so low in the last that I felt it myself a couple of rows back at ringside.
Scores at the finish read 99-88, 98-89 and 97-90.
Denaby’s Terri Harper, who had been due to go in with esteemed veteran Cecilia Braekhus in Dublin before the Norwegian pulled out due to illness, was in celebratory mode once more after securing a first successful defence of her WBA super-welterweight title with a unanimous decision win over Croatian girl Ivana Habazin. Two scores of 97-93 and one of 98-92 saw her home at the end of another one refereed by Mr Gray.
Quiet early on, Terri was having the better of things behind the jab but once the Croat settled Harper was wise to heed corner instructions not to get too involved. Instead she stayed on the move, nipped in and out and regularly beat Ivana to the punch, scoring often with fast rights to the head.
Habazin had her moments, mostly towards the end of rounds, but not enough of them and at no point did she really look like denying the popular Yorkshire girl.
The vacant English welterweight title was up for grabs when Kingswinford’s Danny Ball exchanged pleasantries with Jamie Robinson (Harlow/Bolsover) but any remote hopes the latter may have had of turning things around late were duly quashed when a perforated eardrum forced his retirement at the end of the eighth.
Ginger Rocket Jamie had been playing catch-up almost from the off and, after being floored early in the second, he had to endure a torrid two-handed burst for the remainder of the session as Danny went for it with gusto.
The fusillade didn’t reap the reward Ball might have hoped for but, while the pace understandably dropped in the ensuing rounds, he maintained the upper hand for the most part and was seemingly closing in on victory at the time of the retirement.
Bridgend’s Reece Carter refereed.
A clubbing left to the side of the head of Polish southpaw Michal Bulik early in the fifth of a scheduled eight earned Hyde Hurricane Campbell Hatton a second successive inside the distance victory.
The punch had Bulik doing a drunken foot stomping dance and left referee John Latham with little option but to intervene with 38 seconds of the round having elapsed as Campbell stepped in to deliver a little more punishment.
The Pole had enjoyed minor success in the third, during which he found sufficient space through the middle to land a pair of decent lefts, and whilst he complained bitterly at the stoppage the call was undoubtedly the correct one.
After banking a maiden stoppage victory last time out, Oldham ticket-seller Aqib Fiaz found himself in against a tough cookie, Romanian Costin Ion, and this time he edged home by just a single point, his cause not helped by the fact that he was down in the sixth, caught by a great left to the point of the chin as both men threw simultaneously.
Fiaz, often working off the back foot, had had by far the better of the quieter early sessions but he found himself under heavy pressure for the remainder of the sixth as the visitor surged forward and thereafter Ion gave a far better account of himself.
Referee Latham scored 76-75.
Former Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Aaron Bowen had needed just a little over 90 seconds to secure a debut win in February but this second outing, against Aljaz Venko, a Slovenian never previously halted, seldom looked liked ending early.
With some of his usual supporters missing due to the bout clashing with Coventry City’s play-off final at Wembley Bowen built a commanding early lead behind a pawing jab, one he never let slip against an increasingly game opponent who had to absorb a fair few downstairs.
Mr Latham had Bowen a 60-55 winner.
There was a debut over four at super-welter for Manchester’s William Crolla against Yorkshireman Joe Hardy and though he proved dominant there was a minor setback in the third when he went down, caught more by a partially blocked right forearm than a punch.
Southpaw Crolla, younger brother of trainer Anthony, was already well on his way towards victory and had just enjoyed his best period, a busy spell culminating in a cracking left to the head and he was back pressing and chasing in the last, dominant to such a degree that his gutsy Leeds opponent did well to make it through to the final bell. Referee Steve Gray scored 39-37.
Verdict: Impressive and disciplined Wood sets the record straight against villainous visitor.