Leigh Wood vacates WBA world title

Leigh Wood has officially vacated the WBA world featherweight title and brought his thrilling title reign to a close. 

Wood (28-3, 17KOs) will now move up in weight and compete in the 130lb super-featherweight division. The decision to move up and vacate was always likely following his victory over Josh Warrington on October 7th in Sheffield. Wood would sensationally halt the former two-time IBF world champion in seven rounds following a turbulent fight, which saw Wood begin the contest slowly and, at times, outclassed. 

However, the script was torn up by Wood, who, in a split second, snatched victory with a trade mark thudding straight left before following up with combination punches, sending Warrington to the canvas. Despite Warrington rising to his feet, referee Michael Alexander saw Warrington in no position to continue and waved off the contest as the bell for the seventh round rang.

Wood has held the WBA crown on two occasions. Firstly, Wood dethroned then-champion Can Xu at Matchroom HQ (in the garden) during the Covid period in July of 2021, securing a twelfth-round knockout. Wood’s maiden defence came the following year in March of 2022 against Michael Conlon in a fight-of-the-year contender. The brutal yet thrilling affair saw both fighters take to the trenches, and with Conlan ahead on the scorecards, Wood would knock Conlan out of the ring in the twelfth round to retain his world title. 

Wood would suffer a stoppage defeat to Mauricio Lara in February of this year, succumbing to a seventh-round defeat before regaining the title immediately against Lara in May courtesy of a comfortable unanimous points win. 

Finally, earlier this month, Wood finalised his title reigns with a sensational stoppage. 

Matchroom Boxing’s Tom Dallas confirmed to the WBA that Wood will be vacating his world crown and thanked the organisation for allowing him to become a world champion. 

“We are writing to formally confirm that Leigh Wood has decided to vacate his title with immediate effect,” Matchroom Boxing’s Tom Dallas informed the WBA on Tuesday in an official notice obtained by Boxing Scene. “Leigh has had a remarkable journey as the WBA featherweight champion, and we appreciate the opportunities he has been afforded during this time.

“Leigh is determined to become a two-weight world champion, and he has set his sights on the Super Featherweight division,” noted Dallas. With that in mind, we kindly request for Leigh to be highly raked in the WBA super featherweight rankings, once updated.”

Per the WBA rules, the two highest available contenders within the WBA ratings will contest the vacant title. Currently, at the time of publication, Otabek Kholmatov (11-0) and Raymond Ford (14-0-1) will compete for the vacant WBA crown as and when the WBA orders the title to be contested between the pair.