IBF featherweight champion Kid Galahad (28-1, 17 KOs) has offered Leigh Wood the opportunity to face him in the first defence of the title he won during the second week of Matchroom’s Fight Camp series.
Wood (25-2, 15 KOs) upset the odds the previous week by stopping Xu Can in the 12th round to capture the WBA ‘Regular’ belt in the 126bs division. Wood’s performance gained many plaudits, but Galahad was quick to point out in his post-fight interview that Wood holds the sanctioning body’s secondary title.
Eddie Hearn, who promotes both fighters, has expressed his desire to match the fighters against each other in a unification. At present, that would not be feasible as the IBF only recognises the WBA’s primary title, which is currently in the possession of Leo Santa Cruz. Hearn has stated his belief that Wood should be promoted to ‘Super’ champion as the Mexican has not fought in the division for two-and-a-half years. Galahad does not believe this is likely to come to fruition due to the relationship between the WBA and the Premier Boxing Champions banner, which Santa Cruz fights under.
However, Galahad has proposed a simple solution which would allow the bout to take place immediately.
“That WBA ‘Regular’ title is irrelevant,” Galahad told Boxing Social. “There’s no point us waiting for the unification because we know the unification is going to never happen. If he’s really bothered about fighting me and he really thinks he’d win, I’d let him fight me. He can chuck that WBA title and I’ll give him a voluntary defence. Whatever he does, they are never going to elevate him to ‘Super’ champ with Leo Santa Cruz around.”
Wood’s ability has been spoken about in British boxing circles for a decade, yet, until now, he has always fallen short in his biggest opportunities. In 2014, Wood showed glimpses of his talent before being halted in the sixth round against Gavin McDonnell, with the British super-bantamweight title at stake. Last year, Wood suffered a shock loss as James ‘Jazza’ Dickens, the man Galahad would go onto defeat to capture the world title, outpointed him in the semi-final of the Golden Contract tournament.
Since teaming up with trainer Ben Davison, the Nottingham fighter has finally delivered on his potential. Despite the improvements Wood has made under his new coach, Galahad is in no doubt he would be victorious against his domestic rival if the pair were to meet. The 31-year-old doesn’t see this as opinion, but fact. Galahad believes he is well placed to make such statements as the pair have known each other since they were teenagers and spent years alongside each other in the Ingle Gym. Galahad is adamant that he had the upper hand in all facets of training and that in the intervening years, his development has been greater than Wood’s.
“I know Leigh Wood inside out,” he said. “It doesn’t matter that he’s gone to Ben Davison, because I’ve known Leigh Wood since [I was] 14, you’ve known Leigh Wood for a year.
“You know at Liverpool, they have Mo Salah, Bobby Firmino and Sadio Mané, but they’ve got the other guy; that [Divock] Origi, he’s good, but the other three have got something a bit different. If you put them on the pitch, Mo Salah and Sadio Mané will always shine at the higher level. If you put them in training, Mo and Mané will always shine more than Origi, that’s what it’s like in the Ingle Gym. I never got special treatment, I had to fight my way up to the top. There was Junior [Witter], Johnny [Nelson] and Kell [Brook]. I had to fight my way to the top to get my spot. Leigh Wood tried to fight his way to the top, but he could never outdo me at anything. How are you going to beat someone like me at anything? You can’t!”
Galahad is certain that Wood is just as aware of how the fight would play out as he is. As a result, Galahad does not expect his rival to accept his offer.
“The Leigh Wood fight won’t happen because Leigh Wood will never fight me, no matter what they say,” he said. “Unless he’s getting a shitload of money, [that] he can’t refuse, he’ll never fight me. Has he called me out? Not really. I’m sticking it on him. I’m giving him that smoke; I’m putting him on blast. He’s saying: ‘If it’s a unification,’ I’m just saying it how it is. If he wants to fight for a title in a big fight, he can vacate that WBA and I’ll give him the opportunity. If you come for the king, you best not miss.”