Otabek Kholmatov sits on the cusp of a world title opportunity, the target is WBA featherweight world champion Leigh Wood.
Kholmatov (11-0, 10 KOs) has found himself in the way of an all British featherweight class between champion Wood and former two-time world champion Josh Warrington. The bout is earmarked for this summer at Nottingham Forest’s 30,455 seater stadium, The City Ground, Wood’s hometown football club.
Just 4 days remain on the WBA’s order for Wood and Kholmatov to come to an agreement to avoid purse bids with the undefeated Uzbek sitting in the mandatory position for the WBA world title.
“My goal is to become an undisputed champion in several weight divisions. Obviously, then I will have much more better purses and better terms offered to me if I am world champion.” Kholmatov said in an exclusive interview for ProBox TV.
Wood’s promoter Eddie Hearn has made it no secret that he would prefer Wood to swerve the highly difficult and not so fashionable mandatory for a bumper payday in a domestic world title fight with Warrington. Step aside money is the usual remedy to this solution.
“My team and I are not interested in step aside money, this is definitely not what I'm looking for.” Kholmatov answered to the notion of moving aside for Wood Vs Warrington. “My promoter Svyatoslav Mangushev with Undisputed Boxing Championship and my manager Alex Vaysfeld are currently working for a championship fight with Leigh Wood, from what I know, in the next week the WBA will call a purse bid.
“Wood is a well-trained, disciplined, but not a good enough puncher and has a glass chin. It’s better for him to vacate his belt. Otherwise he will get the most devastating knockout of his career. I'm ready to fight any champion, none of them can even imagine the power of my punches. You can ask Gervonta Davis from my sparring.”
The 24 year old has just started to come to boxing fans attention in an ever developing division. A well versed amateur that now resides in the USA caught British fight fans attention with a destructive 5th round knockout over Thomas Patrick Ward this past March in Newcastle.
“Without any doubts it is the biggest performance of my career.” Kholmatov said of his recent victory. “Ward is really experienced and a high-level fighter who is has been world ranked for much of his career. Despite my short time in England, I fell in love with this incredible country and would like to be able to box there and to entertain as many fans as possible. As we all know that British people love and understand their boxing.”
With the featherweight division involving British fighters Wood and Warrington, the UK is one of the hotspots for any world aspiring 126 pounder. Current IBF world champion Luis Alberto Lopez has found British shores fruitful winning his belt against Warrington in Leeds going on to defend the title against Michael Conlan in Belfast.
“It is an interesting division.” Kholmatov added. “Mauricio Lara was definitely not at Wood's level at all, even in the first fight, Wood’s right hand was always up in defense, he was in complete control, but then he stopped paying attention and got knocked out. You saw in the second fight that Wood is a much better fighter than Lara. Michael Conlan is another good fighter in that part of the world, a similar thing happened to him. He stands strong on his feet and in general is a stronger boxer that what we saw in his last fight with Lopez. One thing I like about him is that Conlan can fight both orthodox and southpaw. Like I said, I love the boxing fans in that country and would love to have many great fights there.”