Michael Conlan was said to be “conscious and stable” after being taken to hospital following his brutal knockout defeat to Leigh Wood in the final round of their WBA featherweight title fight in Nottingham.
Conlan fell clean through the ropes backwards and fell head first onto the arena floor after being knocked out by Wood with only 95 seconds of the fight remaining.
The Irishman had seemed on the verge of victory after heavily knocking down Wood in the first round and hurting him repeatedly afterwards.
But after scoring a knockdown at the end of the eleventh round, Conlan’s energy seemed to fade away in the twelfth under Wood’s final onslaught.
As he backed into the ropes, Wood landed a right that seemed to knock Conlan out on his feet as his arms fell by his side and a follow-up flurry that sent him backwards through the ropes.
Referee Steve Gray instantly waved the fight off as paramedics rushed to help Conlan and Wood tried to quieten his celebrating supporters.
Conlan, 30, left the area on a stretcher but was reported to be awake and responding before he was taken by ambulance to hospital.
“I hope Michael is all right I can’t celebrate until I know he is all right,” Wood said.
“We should be celebrating one of the greatest comeback I have ever seen but we are just praying for Michael Conlan,” Eddie Hearn said.
It had been a brutal end to a remarkable contest that Conlan seemed destined to win from the moment he dropped the champion with a big left hand at the end of the first round.
Wood had been remarkably brave, but Conlan looked to quick and always seemed to have an answer. But after Wood scored a knockdown at the end of the eleventh round, when Conlan appeared to slip, Conlan tired dramatically as Wood completed a remarkable turnaround in the last round and snatch away what Conlan believed was his destiny.
In Wood, he faced a champion who he must have hoped was below top level. It took Wood more than ten years as a professional to win a British title and he became a world champion just five months later when he upset Can Xu to claim the WBA title last summer.
Conlan seemed set for victory when he knocked down Wood heavily at the end of the first round, with a huge left hand that left Wood flat on his back.
The minute’s rest did not seem enough and, after landed a good right, another huge left badly rocked Wood again. He looked on the verge of defeat but somehow stayed on his feet, even withstanding another big left.
There was no rushing from Conlan, though, as he began the third round working behind his left jab. Wood tried to target the body, but Conlan got through with another razor-sharp left, although Wood was going forward on the bell.
The fourth was better for Wood, as he put some pressure on Conlan, but when Conlan got room, he used his speed to land well with the right jab and right hook. In the fifth, after Wood has some success, Conlan fired back, landing a big hook to the body that had Wood holding on.
The relentless body attack continued in the sixth, although for everything Conlan threw, Wood tried to match him and when, in the seventh, Wood came flying forward, Conlan was happy to step back and counter with heavy shots when the openings occurred. They stood and traded at the end of round seven, but while Wood had success, Conlan finished the round by landing the left again.
Somehow, Wood was still going forward and he had some success early in the eighth as he pinned Conlan on the ropes, but after Conlan replied with another big left, Wood found the energy to force Conlan back again, before the Irishman finished by shaking Wood again with the left.
In the tenth, Conlan looked like he had broken Wood, landing a series of body punches than made the Englishman’s hand drop, but somehow he bit down on his gumshield and launched a non-stop two-fisted barrage that had Conlan looking for refuge on the ropes.
For the first time, Conlan looked tired, but after Wood started the eleventh well, Conlan fired back and rocked Wood with a series of lefts and then, as Wood came forward again he landed a left hook that sent Conlan to the floor, although Adam Booth, Conlan’s trainer, protested that it was a slip.
Conlan, though, had little left and after one more savage onslaught in the last, Wood produced the dramatic ending.
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.