Leigh Wood’s first defense of his WBA featherweight world title since reclaiming his title is still up for some debate. Promoters Matchroom had planned to stage Wood’s next fight in his hometown of Nottingham, at Nottingham Forest’s 30,000 plus seater City Ground Stadium.
The noises coming from the promotional powerhouse suggested that Wood would take on fellow Englishman Josh Warrington at the champion’s beloved football club. However, a mandatory obligation with Uzbekistan’s Otabek Kholmatov have disrupted their plans. Kholmatov told ProBox TV News this week. “My team and I are not interested in step aside money.”
ProBox TV News spoke exclusively to Matchroom CEO Frank Smith to get an update on the featherweight triangle.
“We want to focus on making the Leigh Vs Josh Warrington fight, it is a massive fight to be made.” Smith said. “The Kholmatov piece is still there to be dealt with, and let's see where we end up. That is definitely our focus though, Josh Warrington vs Leigh Wood. At The City Ground? It is very unlikely like you said. Look, the club wanted to help as much as possible. I think putting a new pitch out for the Premier League season starting is tough and I understand it. It doesn’t mean in the future it isn’t something that can’t be done, we move on to where that fight can take place.”
It brings up the questions, is the fight between Wood and Warrington bigger than the belts? And will Wood vacate his title to face his Yorkshire rival this summer?
“I think a lot of fights now are bigger than the belts.” Smith answered. “That is the reality. If people are interested [in the fight] and drive viewership. It is like what we saw with Ryan Garcia and Tank, a massive fight without a belt on the line. That’s not me taking anything away from the belts! But at the same, it is the same situation with Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, it is a fight people want to see. I think that are a number of fights that are out there that sort of outgrow the belts.”
The WBA are set to order purse bids between Wood and Kholmatov with the deadline to self negotiate the proposed bout passing yesterday (30th June).