Leigh Wood got off to a strong start Saturday night and emphatically ended his featherweight title fight against Josh Warrington.
Wood was far from his best in between, but the WBA featherweight champion considers his seventh-round stoppage of a two-time world champion and domestic rival the biggest win of his **-year professional career. It unquestionably amounted to a dramatic comeback by Wood, who trailed on all three scorecards when he hurt Warrington with a right hook that completely changed the course of their fight late in the seventh round at Utilita Arena Sheffield in Sheffield, England.
Wood followed that right hook with a vicious right-left combination that knocked Warrington flat on his back. Warrington got up quickly, by the time referee Michael Alexander counted to three, but Alexander waved an end to their 12-round, 126-pound championship battle because Warrington turned his back on the action and didn’t promptly respond to his commands.
The 35-year-old Wood was declared a technical-knockout winner after time expired in the seventh round. Despite all the problems he had dealing with Warrington, Wood “absolutely” considers this the most noteworthy victory he has produced.
“You know, not my best performance,” Wood stated during his post-fight press conference. “I did feel a bit groggy making the weight, and I’ve got no excuses. … But that fight aside, you know, that was my best win. Josh is a two-time world champion, massive scalps on his record. Without a shadow of a doubt, I’m the only Brit to beat him. He’s a great fighter, um, definitely my best scalp. And if we do it again, we do it again. If not, you know, I’d like a new challenge, but we’ll see.”
The 32-year-old Warrington (31-3-1, 8 KOs) has beaten Lee Selby, Carl Frampton, Kid Galahad and Kiko Martinez in fights for the IBF featherweight title the Leeds native has held twice. Like Wood, Warrington was stopped by Mexican contender Mauricio Lara (26-3-1, 19 KOs), from whom Wood regained his WBA belt in the bout before he rallied to defeat Warrington.
Wood (28-3, 17 KOs) trailed Warrington on the cards of judges Howard Foster (58-56), Jean-Robert Laine (59-55) and David Singh (59-55) entering the seventh round of a main event DAZN streamed worldwide. He nonetheless denied Warrington in his bid to become a three-time featherweight champion.
Nottingham’s Wood will move up to the 130-pound division for his next fight. He will entertain the possibility of a rematch with Warrington, but it would be a non-title fight because Wood will relinquish his WBA featherweight crown.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.