WBA world featherweight world champion Leigh Wood turned around what could have been a long, difficult night following a slow start to his WBA world title defence against two-time former IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington at Sheffield Arena this past Saturday.
Following a dominating start from challenger Warrington, Wood would rescue his title reign and halt Warrington in seven rounds with a chopping left hand, which was then followed by a flurry of punches which sent Warrington to the canvas heavily on the sound of the bell.
Despite Warrington climbing back to his feet, referee Michael Alexander believed Warrington was in no position to continue despite the upcoming one-minute break in between rounds.
Despite the best protests of Warrington and his trainer-father, Sean O’Hagan, for his son to continue, it was to no avail as Wood celebrated in relief, knowing he had been in one of the most challenging and most testing fights of his career. This was solidified as the judge’s score totals at the stoppage had Warrington comfortably ahead on all three scorecards.
Wood himself post-fight acknowledged that his victory over Warrington was the best win of his career to date, despite Warrington only winning once in his previous four contests before last Saturday’s encounter in the steel city of Sheffield.
“You know, not my best performance,” Wood stated during his post-fight press conference. “I did feel a bit groggy making the weight, and I’ve got no excuses. … But that fight aside, you know, that was my best win. Josh is a two-time world champion, massive scalps on his record. Without a shadow of a doubt, I’m the only Brit to beat him. He’s a great fighter, um, definitely my best scalp. And if we do it again, we do it again. If not, you know, I’d like a new challenge, but we’ll see.”
Wood also acknowledged that his time at featherweight is now over or, at best, limited, admitting that it has now become an issue to safely make the 126lb weight limit.
Meanwhile, despite Warrington’s protests to continue, Promoter Eddie Hearn felt referee Michael Alexander made the correct decision to wave off the contest.
“I mean, my thoughts are, and I said this to Josh in the ring, and I’d like to hear everybody else’s [thoughts],” Hearn said. “I think if Josh woulda turned around, they woulda hundred per cent let the fight carry on. If the ref did call it after eight, I think it was too early because he should’ve given him, you know, the opportunity to turn around. But, you know, from where I saw the fact that he went back to the corner and didn’t [turn around] – that’s what the ref said to me. He said he wouldn’t turn around, and if you don’t turn around, I can’t let him continue.”