Leigh Wood (27-3, 16 KOs) reclaimed his world title with a unanimous decision victory over Mauricio Lara (26-3-1, 19 KOs) on Saturday in Manchester, England. The win comes only three months after he lost his title to Lara in a seventh round knockout. In their first meeting, Wood was leading on the scorecards before being dropped in round seven. Despite the fact that Wood got up and that the round was nearly over, his corner threw in the towel.
Wood was much better defensively in the rematch as he scored a knockdown and boxed to a wide unanimous decision over Lara. The title was only on the line for Wood as it was deemed unsafe for Lara to attempt to make the featherweight limit by the BBBofC.
In a post fight interview, Wood explained that he has “only two fights left.” At the age of 34, it would be safe to assume that he is nearing the end of his career. Attention now turns towards who he could face next. Big Fight Weekend looks at three potential opponents for Wood’s next fight.
Wood expressed interest in having a fight with former champion Warrington (31-2-1, 8 KOs). Both men are with Matchroom Boxing, making this an easy bout to make. Warrington is coming off of a majority decision loss to Luis Alberto Lopez, to whom he lost his IBF featherweight title. Currently, the WBA have him sixth in their rankings. Promoter Eddie Hearn has also spoken about a potential fight between the two and seems keen to make it happen.
Luis Alberto Lopez
In addition to a Warrington fight, Wood also expressed interest in fighting Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs) in a unification bout. Lopez fought on the same day as Wood, knocking out Michael Conlan in round five. A bout between the two would unify the WBA and IBF featherweight titles. Although Lopez is with Top Rank Boxing, he has fought on a Matchroom Boxing card in the past which saw him defeat Warrington. Lopez could see himself back in the UK for another fight should a deal be worked out.
Kholmatov (11-0, 10 KOs) is an Uzbek featherweight with a number one ranking with the WBA. His most recent bout took place in Newcastle, England and saw him defeating Thomas Patrick Ward by fifth round knockout. Kholmatov began his professional career in August of 2021. By January, he had a record of 9-0 with all fights ending in knockout. All nine bouts took place in either the USA, Colombia, or Dominican Republic. Wins over Ward and Andranik Grigorian helped establish him as the WBA’s number one contender. The WBA may order a fight between him and Wood due to Kholmatov’s ranking. Should the other two bouts not come to fruition, Wood may find himself facing Kholmatov.