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High Drama in Nottingham as Leigh Wood Topples Michael Conlan

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  • High Drama in Nottingham as Leigh Wood Topples Michael Conlan

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    By Arne K. Lang

    A lusty, sellout crowd of 10,000 was on hand tonight in Nottingham for the most important fight in that city since the heyday of Carl Froch. And the crowd was witness to a fight for the ages, albeit one with a frightening ending.

    The attraction was Leigh Wood who was making the first defense of the WBA world featherweight title he won with a 12th-round stoppage of Can Xu. But Leigh’s opponent Michael Conlan was hardly lacking for support. An estimated 3,000-4,000 fans made the trek across the Irish Sea from Belfast to root on the ex-Olympian and two of his countrymen appearing on the undercard.

    For most of the fight, it appeared that the pro-Conlan contingent would return home happy. But Wood made gains as the bout wore on and he took it out of the judges’ hands in the final round, knocking Conlan unconscious and clear out of the ring where paramedics rushed to attend to the stricken fighter. It was a left-right combination that brought about the sudden conclusion. Conlan started keeling over face-first, his rump on the lower strand of rope, and then fell backward and through the ropes. He was reportedly conscious when he left the arena, his destination the closest hospital.

    During the early rounds, Wood’s defense was leaky, Conlan repeatedly found a home for his left hand. Hard body shots, particularly one that landed in the fifth, made it seem as if the Irishman was breaking him down. But Wood was well-conditioned and did better in the late rounds.

    Conlan entered the fight the favorite with the odds hovering around 7/4. As a pro, he was undefeated, 16-0 heading in. But the 33-year-old Wood, a late bloomer, seems to relish the underdog role. With the victory, his third since hooking up with trainer Ben Davison, he advanced his ledger to 26-2 (16 KOs).

    This fight was mindful in many respects of Julio Cesar Chavez’s memorable 12th-round stoppage of Meldrick Taylor, the 1990 Fight of the Year. Taylor was never the same after that and Conlan might be wise to call it a career.


    In the semi-windup Belfast middleweight Caoimhin Agyarko (11-0, 7 KOs) won a lopsided decision over Mexico’s Juan Carlos Rubio (18-2) who lost his second straight fight. Two of the judges gave Agyarko, nicknamed “Black Thunder,” all 10 rounds. The other judge found two rounds for the hard-trying Rubio whose left eye was nearly swollen shut at the finish.

    This was Agyarko’s first professional outing against a southpaw. Five years ago, he nearly lost his life after being stabbed in a street fight.

    Other Bouts of Note

    In a 10-round lightweight fight, Terri Harper (12-1-1, 6 KOs) rebounded nicely from her first loss, pitching a near-shutout over Argentina invader Yamila Belen Abelianeda (18-5-1.) The scores were 99-91 across the board.

    In her previous fight, Harper, 25, was roughed up by Alycia Baumgardner who stopped her in the fourth round. Tonight, she was in control from the opening bell, notwithstanding having to deal with a cut from an accidental clash of heads.

    Lightweight Gary Cully, a six-foot-two stringbean from Naas, Ireland, stepped up in class and passed the test with flying colors, scoring a fifth-round stoppage of Guadalajara veteran Miguel Vazquez, a former IBF 135-pound belt-holder.

    In his previous trip to England, the Mexican was victimized by a bad decision in a 12-round fight with Lewis Ritson, but tonight, Cully, a 26-year-old southpaw with a strong amateur pedigree, made him look old.

    Cully put Vazquez down with a straight left in round three and finished the job two rounds later with a pinpoint left to the jaw. Vazquez was instinctively up in a flash, but only for a moment. Clearly hurt, he sagged to the canvas on one knee and the referee waived it off.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    What a shocking finish. Strange too because earlier in the day I was randomly watching the Hagler-Hamani fight (in Portland, Maine in 1980) on YouTube and Hagler brutally ejected Hamani from the ring because the ropes were so ridonkulously loose.


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      This will be 2022's FOTY.

  • #3
    This is not what I expected from the event, but I watched and right from round one I thought here we go but no way did I think he has him were he wants him(talking Wood) it is why I watch the fights still. Makes you forget about all the garbage that has to be walked around to get to the fights that matter and this was worth it. Not saying nothing new here but still this is where heart shows up, a fighter mentality on both sides, just a real fight. Thanks worth the nickel =


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      This was special and will be discussed for years to come.