By Jake Tiernan: WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood is going to need to be ready for an all-out, unrestricted war against challenger Josh Warrington this Saturday in their headliner at Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England.
(Photo credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing)
It’s questionable whether the 35-year-old Wood (27-3, 16 KOs) can hold up to the kind of blistering pace and the physical style of Warrington (31-2-1,8 KOs) without falling apart.
Michael Conlan, a guy with less offensive skills than Warrington, had Wood hurt, and Mauricio Lara knocked him out.
This will be Wood’s last fight at 126, as he’s going to be moving up to 130 to take on IBF super featherweight champion Joe Cordina for his belt.
Promoter Eddie Hearn says even if Wood wins, he’ll be moving up in weight for a bigger payday against Cordina.
Staying at featherweight would mean that Wood would need to defend against his WBA mandatory Otabek Kholmatov, and that’s hard work because that guy punches like Mauricio Lara, but he’s a combination puncher that.
It wouldn’t end well for Wood. Hearn intends on feeding Raymond Ford to Kholmatov after Wood vacates if he wins on Saturday. If Warrington comes out victorious, he’s got the youth & the style to battle Kholmatov in the trenches.
“I think ultimately, on Saturday in the early hours, we’ll know what’s next for both guys. I think it’s going to be a classic thatcould go either way,” said Eddie Hearn to the media about this Saturday’s showdown between WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood and Josh Warrington.
“Both guys really confident. I mean, confident they win the fight by stoppage, and I think it’s impossible for anyone to make a true pick with any real confidence,” said Hearn to Seconds Out on the Wood – Warrington bout.
Has Leigh Wood’s fragile mandible improved, or will he fall victim to the high punch output of Warrington?
“I think it’s going to be an electric pace,” said Hearn. “I don’t think the fight goes seven or eight rounds. I think the fight will end by stoppage. Both guys can get hurt in the fight, but I think the atmosphere and the occasion, they’re going to go at it from the first bell, and I can’t wait.”
Warrington came close to beating Luis Alberto Lopez last year after wearing him out in the second half of the fight. If he could do that against a murderous puncher like Lopez, it doesn’t bode well for Wood.
“Great card as well from top to bottom and, like I said, a true British classic that probably in years gone by,” said Hearn. “It’s like one you look forward to all year, and now it’s sort of come around amongst a busy schedule of boxing in general, but yeah, this is really one to make sure you keep your eyes on.
“He’s very active. I think he throws a lot of punches, I think he feels that Leigh Wood is slightly fragile, and I think Leigh Wood feels that Warrington is going to walk onto everything, and we know how hard Leigh Wood punches. So I think probably the favorite scenario is a 12 round war.
“Both guys have, especially over the last three years have been in big standout nights. Josh Warrington has done it for a longer period of time,” said Hearn.