It’s a good old fashioned backyard brawl.
Leigh Wood begins his second reign as WBA featherweight titlist on Saturday (DAZN, 2 PM EST) hoping it lasts longer than the first. Wood, after being elevated to the primary titlist position by the WBA, fell short in his first defense only to immediately avenge the loss to Mauricio Lara in his next fight.
And that’s just 2023 for Wood so far.
Now he has fellow UK featherweight stalwart Josh Warrington on tap. While no monster puncher, Warrington is a savvy veteran who pushes at a healthy pace. Can he overwhelm Wood and capture his third major title belt?
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Titles: WBA Featherweight (2023-Present, 1st Defense)
Previous Titles: WBA Featherweight (2022-23)*
Weight: 125 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Gedling, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom
Record: 26-3, 16 KO, 2 KOBY
Press Rankings: #1 (BoxRec), #2 (TBRB, ESPN), #3 (Ring)
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-1, 1 KOBY (3-1, 2 KO including WBA sub-title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 98-6-2 (.934)
Notable Outcomes, Ring/LBC Rated Foes: James Dickens L10; Can Xu TKO12; Michael Conlan TKO12; Mauricio Lara TKO by 7, UD12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None
*Wood initially won the WBA sub-title in 2021 and defended once; since elevated to primary titlist
Previous Titles: IBF Featherweight (2018-20, 3 Defenses; 2022)
Weight: 125 ¼ lbs.
Hails from: Leeds, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Record: 31-2-1, 8 KO, 1 KOBY
Press Rankings: #7 (ESPN), #8 (TBRB, Ring, BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 5-1, 2 KO
Last Five Opponents: 149-19-3 (.880)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Lee Selby SD12; Carl Frampton UD12; Kid Galahad SD12; Mauricio Lara TD2; Kiko Martinez TKO7
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Kiko Martinez MD12; Mauricio Lara TKO by 9; Luis Alberto Lopez L12
The Pick: While both men measure much the same in terms of height and reach, their styles are different. Wood is more comfortable when he can extend his jab and keep some distance. Warrington stays tight and looks to get off in combination at shorter range. Of the two, Warrington is the better body puncher and isn’t afraid to let his head do some of the work. Wood is the bigger puncher but Warrington might be harder to catch clean and is accustomed to fighting for the nod on points. If Wood can measure Warrington with his right hand, he has enough pop to drop and even stop his foe but the more fluid athlete, and quicker man, appears to be Warrington. His inside work and higher volume should pay dividends in a likely crowd pleaser. The pick is Warrington on points.
Additional Saturday Pick
Gilberto Ramirez Dec. Joe Smith
Rold Picks 2023: 31-10
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. He can be reached at [email protected]