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Revenge or Repeat?Michael Conlan's Gamble on a Rematch with Lara Wood's Unforgettable Punching Power

Michael Conlan, the featherweight boxer, hopes that Leigh Wood will emerge victorious in his rematch with Mauricio Lara on Saturday night in Manchester, England. If Wood avenges his previous technical knockout loss to Lara and Conlan defeats Luis Alberto Lopez, a potential 126-pound title unification fight between Conlan and Wood could take place. Conlan, who will challenge Lopez for the IBF featherweight title in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is rooting for Wood's success. However, Conlan doesn't believe that Wood will come out on top.

Expressing his opinion, Conlan said in an interview to a private channel, "In my estimation, Lara will knock him out once again. I believe it to be premature. I am uncertain as to why they hastily arranged this rematch, perhaps due to the mandatory challenger, Otabek Kholmatov, from Uzbekistan, looming in the background. Although I am unsure when he will receive his opportunity, Kholmatov possesses considerable skill, and I genuinely believe he would triumph over Lara, with all due respect to the latter. However, it appears they intend to retain that belt within the confines of the Matchroom sphere. I have read rumors of a potential Lara-Warrington clash, with an intricate dynamic involving the three fighters. Nevertheless, I am perplexed as to why Wood willingly accepted that fight once again."

In their previous encounter on February 18, Lara, representing Mexico, won the WBA featherweight title from Wood in Nottingham, England. Eddie Hearn, promoter for Wood, Lara, and Josh Warrington, suggested that Lara defend his title against Warrington, and the winner would face Wood in the subsequent fight. However, Wood opted to exercise his contractual right to an immediate rematch, resulting in the quick turnaround between their bouts.

Wood had been leading on all three scorecards after six rounds but was knocked down by Lara's left hook in the seventh round. Although Wood managed to beat the referee's count, his trainer, Ben Davison, threw in the towel, leading to a technical knockout.

Conlan praised Wood for his performance in their fight and believed that if Wood had maintained his boxing strategy without becoming too aggressive, he might have had a chance to win. However, Conlan acknowledged Lara's punching power and the inevitability of his eventual victory. Despite Wood's resilience, Conlan agreed with the stoppage, emphasizing the potential long-term damage that could have occurred if the fight had continued.

Conlan himself experienced defeat at the hands of Wood in a thrilling battle that garnered multiple "Fight of the Year" awards in 2022. Although Conlan initially knocked down Wood in their bout, Wood rallied back, knocking Conlan out of the ring in the 12th round. Conlan acknowledged the toll these back-to-back fights may have taken on Wood, raising concerns about potential concussions and their impact on long-term health.


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