Boxing fans witnessed an interesting day of fights from DAZN, who broadcasted cards from the U.K. and Las Vegas, NV. The early evening main event featured WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood (28-3, 17 KOs)successfully defending his title against Josh Warrington (31-3-1, 8 KOs) after scoring a seventh-round TKO. Then, later that night on DAZN, Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez (45-1, 30 KOs) earned a unanimous decision victory over Joe Smith Jr. (28-5, 22 KOs). Both fights had their own story, and after a shocking turn of events in the U.K., the Las Vegas main event came up short of providing a high level of entertainment.
LEIGH WOOD SLEEPWALKS THROUGH THE FIGHT BUT WAKES UP IN TIME FOR A TKO VICTORY
Leading up to the beginning of the fight, oddsmakers leaned towards Wood winning the fight by decision, but it wasn’t by much. He had just come off a great performance against former champion Luis Alberto Lopez, and it seemed like Wood wouldn’t allow himself to lose concentration like he did when he lost the title to Lopez earlier this year before winning it back. When the bell rang to start the bout, Warrington was more motivated to win than the champion Wood. Although Warrington started to land those illegal rabbit punches, which he is known for, he was doing some good work on the inside and forcing Wood to fight his fight.
Wood has his moments, but he seemed uninterested throughout the fight. There was no sense of urgency. He had a nasty cut over his right eye and was down on the scorecards. The fight would shift momentum as soon as the referee deducted a point in the seventh round for the consistent rabbit punches by Warrington. Then, he woke up from his sleepwalk and landed a series of left and right hooks towards the end of the round, which would knock Warrington down. When he got up, it seemed like Warrington thought it was the end of the round and turned his back toward the referee. When the referee examined Warrington, he felt he couldn’t continue, which awarded Wood the seventh-round TKO victory.
Afterward, the narrative seemed to be pointing towards the weight cut being too much for Wood at this point of his career, so promoter Eddie Hearn quickly pivoted to a move up in weight class for Wood. The clear path is a fight between Wood and IBF super featherweight champion Joe Cordina, but time will tell if that fight happens, as Cordina has one of his own coming up within the next couple of weeks.
‘ZURDO’ RAMIREZ LOOKED DECENT AGAINST A BLOWN-UP JOE SMITH JR.
Although both Ramirez and Smith Jr. were fighting at cruiserweight for the first time, the thinking was that we would see some huge shots from them, leading to an entertaining fight. Well, we didn’t quite get that. Yes, it was a decent fight, but although the scorecards were wide and unanimous for ‘Zurdo,’ he wasn’t this dominant force that left an impression either. Ramirez struggled at times with Smith Jr., who had more than a few moments throughout the fight. It just wasn’t enough, primarily due to Smith Jr. fighting at a heavier weight. Ramirez is used to carrying that weight, as he has been rumored to be fighting at over 220 pounds on fight night in the past.
Some may say that he weighed every bit of that last night, but there was no weight taken in the locker room. Ramirez looked slow and vulnerable, but that may not be an issue in the cruiserweight division. The real test is going to come when he fights an actual cruiserweight. Last night, it looked as though the best version of Ramirez, which was at super middleweight and light heavyweight, had passed him by, but at cruiserweight, he can still have success; it just won’t be in the dominant fashion that he’s done it with in the past.
Who does ‘Zurdo’ fight next? The logical choice would be to get 39-year-old WBC champion Badou Jack before someone else gets him. That would be the path of least resistance to a world title, especially with Ramirez having close ties with the WBC. Outside of that, Ramirez will have a tough time with the younger champions and will have to dig deep to overcome those challenges.