Michael Conlan ‘all good’ after Leigh Wood retains world title with brutal knockout


Leigh Wood produced a brutal last-round knockout of Michael Conlan to retain his WBA featherweight title amid worrying scenes in Nottingham.

The powerful punch sent Conlan through the ropes and on to the floor and he was later carried from the arena on a stretcher and taken to hospital.

Conlan posted a video on Instagram on Sunday morning saying “I’m all good”.

England’s Wood had himself been knocked down in the first round and was losing before the late knockout.

Wood, who stopped his celebrations as his opponent received immediate medical treatment, told broadcaster Dazn immediately after the fight: “I just hope Michael is all right; I can’t celebrate until I know he is.

“He is so tough and it was a bad knockout so I just want to see he is all right.”

And Belfast fighter Conlan gave an update on his condition from hospital hours later, saying his CT scans were clear.

“Congrats to Leigh Wood, congrats to his team, that was the best shot of the night he got me with at the end,” he said. “But it is what it is, I’ll be back.”

On Twitter, he followed up with: “Definitely want a rematch.”https://emp.bbc.com/emp/SMPj/2.44.14/iframe.htmlMichael Conlan: Belfast fighter ‘all good’ after knockout defeat

Huge concern for Conlan

Conlan’s words on Sunday morning will come as a huge relief for all concerned.

Wood was in tears at the post-fight news conference and admitted: “I’m in an emotional state and there have been some tears.

“I heard he is up and talking but I would like to see him.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn called Wood’s win “one of the greatest comebacks” but added “we’re all praying for Michael”.

“It looked a masterclass from Michael and coming into the 12th I could not see a way Leigh could turn the fight around,” Hearn said.

“Michael was two ahead going into the last round – Leigh had to knock him out in the 12th and he did.

“I would love to celebrate but all our thoughts are with Michael.”

Wood fights back after first-round knockdown

Wood, 33, won the ‘regular’ version of the WBA title with a points win over China’s Xu Can in July at Matchroom’s Fight Camp, staged in Hearn’s garden in Brentwood, Essex, because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Wood was set to fight at his hometown venue on the undercard of Carl Froch’s IBF super-middleweight world title fight against Lucian Bute 10 years ago, but his bout did not go ahead.

However, Wood, who was in the crowd that day cheering on his fellow Nottingham boxer as he beat Bute with a fifth-round knockout, called the opportunity to fight in front of a crowd of just under 10,000 people at the same venue, the Motorpoint Arena, “a fairy tale”.

His hopes nearly ended inside the opening three minutes when he was caught late in the first round by a brilliantly timed and brutally powerful overhand left.

Previously unbeaten, Conlan was fighting for a world title in his 17th professional fight after a glittering amateur career that earned him an Olympic bronze medal and gold medals in both the World and European Amateur Championships and was close to winning the fight in the second.

But Wood showed great character and desire, despite suffering a cut over his eye in the fourth round, as both men repeatedly traded blows in a hugely entertaining clash, which was described as the “best fight I’ve ever seen” by two-weight former world champion Carl Frampton.

Wood gradually started to work his way back into the fight, aided by some great shots to Conlan’s body, before the away fighter was judged to have been knocked down in the 11th, despite arguments from his corner, who told referee Steve Gray their fighter had slipped.

But, after one minute 25 seconds of the final round, the fight ended in dramatic circumstances. Wood caught Conlan with a glancing blow to the head. Conlan dropped his arms, looking exhausted, and Wood landed the knockout blow.

What next?

The WBA ‘super’ featherweight belt is vacant, Mexican Emanuel Navarrette, is the WBO champion, and Mark Magsayo of the Philippines holds the WBC crown after ending the long reign of American Gary Russell Jr with a majority points decision win in January.

But Wood will be very keen to watch the fight for the IBF title as Spanish title holder Kiko Martinez takes on England’s Josh Warrington in Warrington’s home city of Leeds on 26 March.

If Warrington beats Martinez for the second time in his career, that could set up an all-English world title fight at a stadium, with Leeds United’s Elland Road and Nottingham Forest’s City Ground potential venues.

Hearn said: “If Leigh Wood fights in Nottingham again it will be at the City Ground – that has been his dream for a long time.”

Agyarko and Harper win undercard fights

Caoimhin Agyarko extended his professional record to 11 wins from 11 contests.

He was never in trouble against Mexican Juan Carlos Rubio, who showed great courage to reach the final bell.

Two judges gave Agyarko every round (100-90), and the third judge called it 98-92, as the Belfast fighter kept hold of his WBA international middleweight title.

Former women’s super-featherweight world champion Terri Harper got back to winning ways after stepping up to lightweight with a big points win over Argentina’s Yamila Belen Abellaneda.

Harper, 25, said she was “embarrassed” by her loss to Alycia Baumgardner in November, which saw her relinquish the title she had held since July 2019.

Harper started well against Belen Abellaneda but sustained a bad-looking cut over her left eye in the third round.

Belen Abellaneda kept coming forward but took a lot of punishment with Harper having success with lefts to the head and body and some powerful uppercuts on her way to a deserved win.

Irish lightweight Gary Cully maintained his unbeaten record with his 14th professional win as he knocked out Miguel Vasquez in five rounds after earlier putting him down in the third.

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