Exploring the Boxing Rivalry Between Leigh Wood and Josh Warrington

The rivalry between Leigh Wood and Josh Warrington is one of the fiercest in professional British boxing today. Warrington is a two-time world featherweight champion, holding the IBF belt twice between 2018 and 2022. As for Wood, he became WBA featherweight world champ in July 2021, before losing it to Mauricio Lara and regaining it in their rematch in May 2023.

The WBA ordered Wood to face Otabek Kholmatov as his next mandatory challenger. However, Wood had other ideas. The WBA eventually approved Wood’s voluntary title defence against Warrington, on the condition that the winner locked horns with Kholmatov within 120 days of the bout.

The Fight Itself

As for the bout between Wood and Warrington, it was held at the Sheffield Arena in South Yorkshire, a midway point between Wood’s native Nottingham and Warrington’s home of Leeds. Wood somehow managed to win with a seventh-round knockout punch on Warrington. It was a bitterly disappointing turn of events for Warrington, given that he was up as many as four points on Wood with at least two of the judges. In fact, Warrington had landed almost twice the number of punches and power punches than Wood.

The Fallout From the Fight

Just ten days after his victory, Wood then opted to vacate the belt, ensuring he wouldn’t need to fight Kholmatov. The boxing world was desperate for a rematch between Wood and Warrington, given that the latter had performed so impressively before Wood’s knockout blow. However, the delay over rematch negotiations has also seen many people clamour for Josh Warrington to consider a third fight with Mexican ace, Mauricio Lara.

The Wood Vs Warrington rematch was initially expected to be staged at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground, with a football pitch plenty big enough for a high-profile boxing match. However, there’s been zero movement on a date for the rematch, although the summer would likely be the best opportunity given that Forest’s Premier League season ends in May and won’t restart until August.

Warrington also took to the radio to slate Wood’s post-fight gloating to the media. He also suggested that the rematch wasn’t doable due to the demands from Wood placed on fight promoters. Warrington said a string of promoters have done the sums and it’s not possible to pay Wood the money he’s asking for the rematch.

Whether Wood really is demanding over the odds and potentially ducking the rematch remains to be seen. One thing is for certain, the moment for the rematch is 2024. If they can’t agree terms by the end of the year, both fighters will have to take their careers elsewhere.