Leigh Wood defends his WBA World Featherweight title against Josh Warrington in Sheffield this weekend – a contest that has all the makings of a Fight of the Year contender.
Tale of the Tape
Warrington – who kicked off his professional campaign in 2009 two years before Wood – will enter the ring for the 35th time on Saturday night. He has two losses, one via knockout, one draw and eight stoppages in his 31 wins. The 32-year-old stands at 5′ 7″ with a recorded reach of 67”.
This title defence marks the 31st fight of Wood’s career in which he has won 27 – 16 by KO – and lost three, two of those coming inside the distance. His height and reach mirror those of Warrington, the pair both fight out of the orthodox stance and are two-time world champions.
At 35-years-old, Wood has admitted that his days making the 126-pound limit are numbered. Fans will be keeping a close eye on the weigh-in to see which man has handled the cut better.
Warrington loves standing toe-to-toe and having a fight, his frenzied pressure a crowd-pleasing but dangerous style. It’s paid off many times, including in his maiden world title win against Lee Selby, but worked against him too, most notably in his first fight with Mexican dangerman, Mauricio Lara. Coming forward was his downfall in that stoppage loss, but he has since said there’s a new focus on a more-considered approach. He’s been accused of leading with the head in exchanges, and many opponents have ended up cut from clashes. It’s not a tag he shies away from, in fact he’s had it printed on a t-shirt for this press run.
Wood is comfortable at range and likes to use a pawing left hand and feints to keep his opponent off rhythm. Coach Ben Davison branded him ‘the hardest puncher he has ever trained’, and his knockout ratio of 53% is double that of Warrington’s. The most impressive and notable point from Wood’s latest win – a rematch over Lara just three months on after a TKO loss – is his ability to box to a gameplan with a measured approach. He’ll likely look to circle around Warrington and dictate the pace, but not many believe this won’t have elements of a fire fight at one stage or another.
Neither man is expected to struggle with his gas tank, meaning it’s likely to go long if not the full twelve.
There’s no doubt that Wood steps through the ropes with momentum in his corner. His Lara win was commendable in many ways, and the title is around his waist because of it. It marked four victories from the last six, another being his sensational final round knockout of Mick Conlan.
Warrington was last out against another Mexican in Luis Alberto Lopez, an excellent and tricky technician who fought to a majority decision win over the Leeds man, taking the IBF title that he won against Kiko Martinez. That is the only victory since 2019 for Warrington in amongst the Lara loss and a forced draw in the rematch due to a head clash cut.
Both men are at the tail-end of their careers, making every night under the lights a potential farewell affair. Will the added motivation of a domestic grudge match see them fight at their very best? That’s the hope.
You can watch the full preview show with special guest, Maxi Hughes, below. Head over to houseofboxing.com to predict that fight, plus Terri Harper vs. Cecilia Braekhus, Kieron Conway vs. Linus Udofia, and more.