Leigh Wood May Not Be The Best Featherweight In The World, But He’s The Most Exciting!

By James Slater - 10/08/2023 - Comments

As fight fans have no doubt read by now, WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood retained his belt with a stunning, out of nowhere, come from behind KO (or TKO) win over long-time domestic rival Josh Warrington last night.

Far behind on points at the halfway stage of the eagerly awaited fight in Sheffield, 35 year old Wood shocked Warrington with a cracking left hook to the head, the defending champion’s five punch follow-up downing Warrington, 31-3-1(8) and ending his challenge in the seventh round.

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It was yet another quite remarkable fight/performance/slice of thrill from Nottingham’s new sheriff. To re-write the title above, Wood might not be the best featherweight in the world, but he’s the most exciting.

Talk about a career that has seen Wood overcome the odds, produce amazing comebacks, and, in last night’s fight, snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Now 28-3(17), Wood, a two-time WBA champion, has been written off way more than once, yet here he is, still on top when nobody thought he’d ever get there.

A pro since October of 2011, Wood failed to win the British super-bantam title in 2014, when he was stopped by Gavin McDonnell, and then, after winning the Commonwealth and WBO European titles at 126 pounds, Wood lost the belts via close decision defeat to Jazza Dickens in 2020. Then came Covid and a year of enforced inactivity – before Wood really got into his stride as far as showing us what he’s made of.

Coming back a year after the Dickens loss, to take the British featherweight title with a solid win over Reece Mould, Wood then went on to defy the odds by beating Xu Can to become, at the advanced age (for a featherweight) of 33, almost 34, a world champion at last. The 12th round KO scored by Wood thrilled those fans of his who had stayed loyal to him, who had not stopped believing.

Then, against Michael Conlan in March of 2022, Wood gave us The FOTY, his epic, up from the floor, last round KO win over Michael Conlan sending us all into a pumped-up state of frenzy. Then came the nasty, potentially career-ending KO loss to Mexican dangerman Mauricio Lara; before the no-quit Wood came back to thoroughly outbox Lara in the return, with Wood winning back his belt.

And now, after last night’s smashing turnaround, here we are, once again shaking our heads at Wood and his ability to do such amazing things. How much more Wood has left, how much the hard fights and the hard punches have taken out of him, we can only guess. But for now, Wood is still champion, he has options for the future (already there is talk of a rematch with Warrington), and he might just win British Fighter of the Year acclaim when the time comes.

Certainly, Wood, in his three fights of 2023, has given us fans a whole lot of value for money. And a whole lot of excitement.

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Last Updated on 10/08/2023