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Leigh Wood The New “Miracle Man”

Leigh Wood The New "Miracle Man"

Boxing News

Leigh Wood The New “Miracle Man”

Mark Robinson -Matchroom Boxing

Leigh Wood The New “Miracle Man”

(Our colleague David Payne of has a column on the potential magnitude of WBA featherweight champ Leigh Wood reportedly having his next bout at the hallowed City Ground (soccer stadium) in Nottinham, England, next year.)

In 1979, deep in the bowels of the City Ground, in the aftermath of a 3-3 draw with German football champions Cologne in the Semi-Final of the European Cup, a result that meant the East Midlands club would need to win in Germany to progress, Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough famously closed the post-match TV interview with a lingering look to the camera, a wry smile and the words; “I hope anybody’s not stupid enough to write us off.”

As Josh Warrington was whacked to the canvas on Saturday night, a series of unanswered hooks from WBA Champion, and proud Nottingham man Leigh Wood the cause, that quote drifted back to me. Warrington had, for much of the preceding 7 rounds proved entirely too aggressive, mobile and persistent for Wood. Sweeping rounds 3-6 on the cards, sharing the openers and cutting the defending Champion in the process.

Warrington looked stronger, more confident and rendered Wood, who appeared ‘flat’ at the Featherweight limit, disorganised a number of times. Only a sudden referee’s intervention and immediate point deduction in the 7th round interrupted Warrington’s characteristic charge. Rules are often merely a guideline in a Warrington fight but Michael Alexander’s sanction came without any preceding warning despite a series of excursions beyond those rules offering ample invitation to.

In the pause it inserted in Warrington’s instinctive attacks, Wood found a gap in his defence with a right hand to the point of the chin. The blow was followed by a series of hooks which felled the Leeds man and hurt him further on the way down. Warrington climbed back to vertical, but with a degree of disorientation still swirling and with the round at a close he turned to his corner at the count of 8 and, as a result, was adjudged unable to continue. For Wood it was the type of Cinderella comeback he has developed a habit of making, to the point he appears most dangerous when behind on the cards and struggling to compete. Shades of Carl Thompson the gnarly Cruiserweight a decade or more ago. The vanquished Warrington adds another sour note to a late career festooned with similarly frustrating nights where ‘Vegas’ and Unification bouts were meant to hang.

Hear Dan Rafael and T.J. Rives talking Wood’s KO and possible next fight at City Ground on the latest “Fight Freaks Unite Recap Podcast” by clicking play below,

This victory, likely Wood’s last contest at Featherweight despite the belt he kept in triumph, is the latest in a series of surprises in a golden Autumn to a12-year-career which appeared destined for modest returns as recently as 2020 when he lost to Jazza Dickens for a WBO European belt.

A boxer’s affinity with a football club is often little more than opportunism and a vehicle for free promotion to an obvious demographic. Mike Tyson wearing a Manchester United shirt before he fought Julius Francis in 2000 a conspicuous and extreme example. But there is more to the relationship between Wood and the fans of Nottingham Forest, who witnessed one of football’s purest Cinderella stories in the late seventies when Brian Clough took the modest club from the second tier of domestic football and made them English, and then two time European Champions. Long before Wood was even born, nevertheless it is a period of such luminous achievement that it continues to define and inspire the City’s inhabitants forty plus years on and three decades removed from Clough’s retirement.

This symbiosis between Wood and Forest, their relative status in the global sports they compete in and their history of punching far beyond their means will become further entwined in 2024 when Leigh Wood’s dream of boxing at The City Ground, home to the club since 1898, will come to fruition. 

The 35-year-old Wood, likely to debut at 130 pounds in this proposed crescendo, will almost certainly face Josh Warrington in a rematch to Saturday’s encounter. It is the richest, easiest match up to make to guarantee the Stadium is full when the two meet.

Few present will worry that Warrington has just a solitary win in the last five or that he will probably get the better of Wood early.

Because, Wood, like Brian Clough before him, has taught the people of Nottingham, and many more from around the world, to never write him off.

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David has been writing about boxing, sport’s oldest showgirl, for almost twenty years. Appearing as a columnist and reporter across print and digital as well as guest appearances with LoveSportRadio and LBC in the UK and, of course, The Big Fight Weekend podcast. Find his unique take on the boxing business here and at his site;

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