Two-thirds of the way through Saturday’s featherweight contest between Leigh Wood and Michael Conlan, anybody could see we were getting a good fight.

Wood survived a hard knockdown in the first, and some buzzing moments as the rounds wore on, but he was hanging in there and having his moments. Conlan, a two-time Irish Olympian, was just having more of them. 

Conlan was having one of the best showings of his career.  

After Conlan won the ninth on all three judges' scorecards, Wood was in a hole. With an extra point off for the knockdown in the first, Wood had won only two rounds on one card and three on another. Victory was almost out of reach.

It’s good for Wood that they weren’t scheduled for nine rounds.

Or ten.

A good fight went somewhere else in the tenth round. 

As reported at BoxingScene by Ron Lewis, “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.” 

Wood won the tenth on all three cards.

It set the stage for what could be the round of the year. In a wild three minutes that saw both men laying it all on the line, Wood scored a knockdown to narrow the gap in Conlan’s favor. 

Victory was suddenly very much in reach entering the closing frame. Wood was down by one on two of the three judges cards and Wood appeared the fresher man. He would be the last man standing after sending Conlan through the ropes, unconscious, for one of the most stunning come from behind wins in recent memory.

The line between very good and great fights can be hard to define. We know it when we see it. We damn sure saw it on Saturday night. 

Wood-Conlan was a classic. We were all lucky to see it.  

Futures: For Conlan, the impact of the loss will be determined by how quickly he can reset. A rematch with Wood would be the quickest route back to where he was before the fight, but Wood may not go that way if the WBA enforces their rules. At 30, Conlan has time to rebound but fighting only 2-3 times a year, age can catch up quick and Saturday wasn’t just a one-punch drama. Wood landed hard shots all night, particularly to the body. Conlan has at times appeared measured as a professional. It’s effective but hasn’t always been compelling entertainment. On the night where he let it all hang out, he might have needed more of that. Conlan’s return will be interesting.

Wood is a fighter who has been easy to underestimate but he’s shown in consecutive knockouts of Xu Can and now Conlan that what he lacks in speed or agility he makes up for with all sorts of intangibles. He’s a fighter, in the good sense, and we can never have too many. Wood is now in line for a showdown with WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz. Will we see that fight? Boxing being boxing, we’ll have to see but given the styles of both men, it would be another Leigh Wood date to circle on the calendar.   

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.