It won’t prove much consolation for Michael Conlan but his fight with Leigh Wood has won ESPN Fight of the Year.
WBA regular champion, Wood got up off the floor to win a tense and extremely entertaining fight via a dramatic stoppage in March of this year.
The Belfast fighter looked on course for a dominant win but the Nottingham fighter finished the stronger scored a knock down in the eleventh before stopping the Olympic medal winner in the last.
It’s a fight ESPN claim ‘truly have it all’ and reached a level of drama not seen in any other male fight this year.
Again it’s not something born competitor Conlan will enjoy hearing but the fact the clash has won a Fight of the Year gong does increase his rematch hopes.
The Top Rank fighter has been calling for a repeat to no avail since March.
Confirming why the fight was named fight of the year ESPN explained:
“The unforgettable featherweight title fight between Leigh Wood and Michael Conlan truly had it all. Nonstop action, ebbs and flows, and both fighters on the canvas amid a raucous atmosphere in Nottingham, England. Those traits alone are usually enough to win this honor.
“But Wood-Conlan reached a new level toward the end of their thrilling fight. Conlan scored a knockdown in the closing seconds of the opening round with a single overhand left.
“When the bell rang to start Round 2, Wood was still reeling. Conlan tried to finish him off as Wood attempted to survive. The Englishman then cut Conlan over the left eye in a wild follow-up round that featured plenty of violent exchanges.
“As the rounds tolled on, Wood and Conlan continued to unload power punches with ferocity in a fast-paced 126-pound bout with a crowd filled with supporters for both boxers.
“Wood continued to hammer Conlan’s midsection in Round 10, but the Belfast native was firing shots in Round 11 in a battle that was clearly up for grabs. Seconds before the bell to end Round 11, Wood dropped Conlan with a left hook. Conlan jumped right up and protested that he slipped.
There was no doubt about the next knockdown. Conlan was ahead 104-103, 105-102 and 104-103 on the scorecards heading into the final round. Wood needed to win the round to pull out the draw to retain his WBA “regular” title.
Wood picked up where he left off in Round 12 and was pouring punches on Conlan, who backed up to the ropes. Suddenly, Conlan’s body went stiff as a combination sent him crumbling through the ropes and outside the ring for the dramatic, come-from-behind victory by Wood.”
Wood’s finish also won Knockout of the Year.
“It’s a simple rule: When you send your opponent crashing through the ropes and outside the ring for the knockout, it’s the KO of the Year. What truly could top that? Adding to the drama: Wood was down on all three scorecards entering the final round and needed a knockdown to win the fight.”