Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, alongside global sports broadcasting giants, DAZN, have won the purse bids, over Top Rank, for Nottingham boxer, Leigh Wood and his first defence of the WBA World Featherweight championship, against the undefeated Irishman, Michael Conlan.
Every man and his dog are now hoping, no praying, that Wood, 25-3(15) will have that defence, against Conlan, 16-0(8), in Wood’s hometown of Nottingham; although there is the greater likelihood that the contest could well take place on America’s East Coast, in New York.
Having claimed a very late, TKO12 decision for the world title, in a mammoth tussle, against Can Xu, back in July, it’s actually been a couple of months of medical procedure (on his shoulder) and ongoing rehabilitation for Gedling’s finest.
“Yes, I recently had an operation (his third),” explained Leigh.
“Things were getting a little hard and my power was being affected because of it.
“The operation itself took a couple of hours, but I only really had a few days afterwards, before the rehab itself begun.
“Now, I’m probably a few weeks away from being able to start punching again.”
That in itself can only be good news for Wood, and his coaching team headed by Ben Davison, especially with the now officially announced Conlan scrap, just around the corner.
Granted it could be another four-to-five months still, there’s talks of early March (Hearn/Matchroom/DAZN announcement will be released in due course) but for Wood, the pull of home is still burning strongly within.
Looking back at that victory though, over Can Xu, Wood added: “He was tougher than I expected him to be.
“I caught with a few, really good shots, but he was resilient.
“We prepared, initially, for a full length fight.
“But I couldn’t see him lasting the full twelve.
“So, I pretty much did what I had to do on the night.”
Since that victory over Can Xu, it was always going to be a case of playing a waiting game, firstly as to who the next opponent would be, and secondly who would win the purse bids – it took $1.5 million to do that one (again Top Rank’s $1.2 million).
For Wood, and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, the upper-hand is firmly with the Nottingham fighter, it’s now just a case of when, and where, the fight will take place.
Conlan meanwhile, defeated his fellow countryman, TJ Doheny, via UD12 (116-111, 116-111, 119-108), in Belfast, the month after Wood’s world title success, winning all his contested, title bouts, whilst Wood has won six of his last seven contests, the loss coming to Jazza Dickens, back February 2020, to set up this dance.
“I’ve seen, watched bits of him (Conlan) fight, and I’m really excited for it,” beamed Wood.
“We’re already looking at Conlan’s recent outings, seeing what he’s good at, what I can exploit, any flaws he may have.
“This though, for me, it’s my job, it’s my lifestyle.
“I don’t want too much time off, I want to go out there, and create history.
“But what I really want though, is a homecoming – I’ve not fought at home (the last was in May 2019, against Ryan Doyle, when he defended his Commonwealth title, at the Nottingham Arena) for some time.
“I really want one again. “
Further information on Wood-Conlan will be released in due course.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @itsleighwood ‘Leighthal’ (right) saw off Reece Mould before his world title win over Can Xu.