WBA World featherweight world champion Leigh Wood aims to be cool, calm and collected ahead of his anticipated world title defence against domestic rival Josh Warrington at the Sheffield Arena this Saturday.
Wood, a two-time WBA champion at featherweight, has so far fought twice this year against Maurcio Lara on both occasions. Firstly, in March, the Nottingham native was halted with seconds remaining in the seventh round following a knockdown before claiming redemption in May with arguably the most dominant showing of his career to date.
A long-lasting respect between Wood and Warrington has developed over the last two years after being long touted as potential opponents for one another during their respective title reigns.
However, Wood believes that Warrington is starting to feel the pressure of what is to come after noticing slight changes in Warrington’s personality and suggested that Warrington is craving to be liked by the public.
“It’s been respectful between us all camp. I think Josh is starting to get slightly aggressive, starting to swear a little bit. He thinks people will like him if he swears a little bit more. The last few days, I think he’s changing a little bit. He might even be trying to rattle me, I don’t know. Like I said, I’m cool, calm and collected and I know what I’ve got to do.”
Leigh will participate in his fifth world title contest, while Josh will contest his seventh. Arguments can be had regarding whether Warrington’s experience will play a factor in the contest against Wood despite the Leeds-based featherweight having only won one out of his previous four fights. Warrington has not been in action since his December 2022 defeat to Luis Alberto Lopez, succumbing to a majority decision defeat and losing his IBF world featherweight title.
Warrington also faced the previously mentioned Mauricio Lara prior to the Mexican facing Wood earlier this year. Warrington suffered two frustrating nights. First, in February 2012, the Mexican knocked a subdued Warrington from hypothetical ‘pillar to post’ before the end came in the ninth round of a scheduled twelve rounds.
A rematch was made for the September of the same year. However, a clash of heads inside the opening two rounds curtailed Warrington’s attempts to right the wrongs of that night in February.
Warrington would recapture the IBF crown after being forced to vacate the strap before his maiden bout with Lara, defeating Kiko Martinez in March of 2022 to return to the world champion table.
Wood feels that he can capitalise on the mistakes of Warrington and retain his world crown, praising trainer Ben Davison for his guidance and feeling that even at 35 years old, is starting to fulfil his potential.
“I’ve been at this level many times. He’s going to do what he always does, and I’ll do what I always do. I feel like I’ve always had the potential, but I was missing a little bit of guidance. I got to a high level doing things on my own, but since I’ve teamed up with Ben, it’s brought out the best in me, and it’s showing on fight night. I make less mistakes and I capitalise on my opponents - it’s taken me to another level.”