One of the bigger bouts remaining on the Boxing calendar for 2023 will kick off the month of October as two-time Featherweight world champion Leigh Wood will begin his second reign as WBA world champion as he makes his first defense since regaining the title in May of this year, against former two-time Featherweight world champion Josh Warrington on Saturday, October 7th. The showdown in the 126lb. Featherweight division, which will take place at the Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England and will be broadcast globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN, has the possibility to be a sleeper candidate for Fight of the Year.
Not only does this encounter bring together two of the biggest stars that the United Kingdom currently has to offer, each with significant followings, but also two of the best the Featherweight division has to offer. Leigh Wood's recent career could probably be best described as a rollercoaster. Many likely remember his thrilling and brutal knockout of top contender Michael Conlan in March of last year. In many ways, this was a career definer for Wood, who had become world champion via the route of earning interim/regular champion status in the WBA's Featherweight ratings, but when then champion Leo Santa Cruz opted to vacate the title, it elevated Wood to world champion. Oftentimes, fighters who become champion in this way though through no fault of their own, are not given the same recognition as a fighter who wins a world championship by defeating the previous champion. Wood's victory over Conlan served as both a statement-making as well as a star-making performance for him.
As can happen in Boxing and by extension all combat sports however, there are also times where a fighter's stock can fall almost as quickly as it goes up. Wood experienced such a scenario when he was knocked out by the very dangerous Mauricio Lara in February of this year. The loss also resulted in the loss of the WBA world championship. While the loss to Lara was a case of Wood simply getting caught and subsequently stopped in a fight that he was ahead on the scorecards up to that point, it also gave him something to prove as he quickly opted for an immediate rematch in May. Although some questioned that wisdom, Wood produced a superb performance the second time around in Boxing his way to a convincing twelve round unanimous decision to regain the championship.
Now with his stock on the rise once again, Wood prepares to defend his crown against Josh Warrington. Similar to Wood, Warrington has also experienced the highs and lows that often come during a career. The former IBF world champion also has Mauricio Lara in common with Wood, as Warrington also fought two fights against him in suffering a loss and a technical draw in the rematch when the fight was stopped due to an accidental clash of heads resulting in a bad cut where Lara could not continue. Much like Wood, Warrington is a highly skilled boxer/puncher that has a full arsenal of skills.
Warrington however, will be coming into this fight off of a loss in losing the IBF Featherweight world championship in losing a twelve round majority decision in December of last year to Luis Lopez. While it is logical to suggest that this fight could be a tactical Boxing match given each fighter's skillset, one could argue that Wood does have an edge in power having scored knockouts in sixteen of his twenty-seven career wins compared to eight knockouts in thirty-one career wins. Both fighters have suffered knockout losses to the same fighter in Lara and both came as a result of being caught in fights that they were leading.
Given that both fighters have been vulnerable before, it would not surprise me to see each of them attempt to catch the other off guard by trying to land counter punches, but the possibility certainly exists that at some point this could turn into a fight where there are heated exchanges of offense. If the latter does indeed occur, it may come down to which fighter is able to land their power punches flush, that might determine who will win this battle.
"And That's The Boxing Truth."
Wood vs. Warrington takes place on Saturday, October 7th at the Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England. The fight as well as its full undercard can be seen in the United States and globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning at 11:45AM ET/8:45AM PT with Before The Bell, which will feature preliminary bouts followed by the main portion of the card, which will begin at 2PM ET/11AM PT.
(*U. S. Times Only*) (*Card and Start Times Subject To Change.*
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