Leigh Wood won his immediate rematch with Mauricio Lara impressively and took back the WBA featherweight title in his most recent fight.
Josh Warrington lost a 12-round majority decision to Luis Alberto Lopez in his last appearance. The former IBF 126-pound champion hasn’t boxed since his close loss to Mexico’s Lopez last December 10 at First Direct Arena in Warrington’s hometown of Leeds, England.
It therefore makes sense that Wood (27-3, 16 KOs) is listed by most sportsbooks as more than a 2-1 favorite to beat Warrington (31-2-1, 8 KOs) in their 12-round title fight Saturday night at Utilita Arena Sheffield in Sheffield, England. Being a slight underdog doesn’t necessarily bother Warrington, who admitted he has drawn motivation from some factions of fans and media who don’t think that the 32-year-old challenger has what it takes to become a champion again.
“I’m certainly not offended,” Warrington said when promoter Eddie Hearn asked him about the odds on their fight during a press conference Thursday. “I’m not offended. If anything, it’s motivation. Lee’s the champion. And obviously, I’ve been granted with this opportunity, so I’m very grateful for that. But yeah, I think it’s – what does annoy me is I think if you’ve written [me] off, and people have written me off already, that I’m finished. And that does give me a bit between me teeth.”
Warrington contends that he has performed like a championship-caliber fighter since his immediate rematch with Lara resulted in a technical draw due to a cut over Lara’s left eye in the second round. In his two fights since that inconclusive clash with Lara (26-3-1, 19 KOs) in September 2021, Warrington fought through a broken jaw to stop Spain’s Kiko Martinez (44-12-2, 31 KOs) in the seventh round of their March 2022 bout and lost the abovementioned majority decision to Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs).
The prideful Warrington hasn’t boxed in almost 10 months, but he is eager to disprove skeptics by becoming a three-time world champion against Nottingham’s Wood.
“They forget last year I sort of dominated Kiko Martinez in seven rounds,” Warrington said. “And then I dominated the second half of the Lopez fight. Obviously, everyone keeps on talking about how well he’s gone on since that one. But yeah, man, I’m hungry and I feel like I haven’t had this kind of hunger in between me teeth in a long time.
“And throughout this camp, and throughout this year to be honest with you, my head has been in a very good place. I’ve been very, very focused. And I feel the only time that I’ve suffered an ‘L’ has been because of me mindset. Physically, I’m always in great shape, live in the gym, obsessed with training, but I always think it’s me mindset what’s let me down in the past.”
Both of Wood’s fights with Mexico’s Lara have occurred since Warrington last fought.
Lara beat Wood by seventh-round technical knockout February 18 at Nottingham Arena in Wood’s hometown. The 35-year-old Wood’s unanimous-decision victory over Lara in their rematch took place May 27 at AO Arena in Manchester, England.
DAZN will stream Wood-Warrington as a main event worldwide. The streaming service’s undercard coverage is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. BST in the United Kingdom and at 2 p.m. EDT in the United States.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.