Leigh Wood came from behind to stop Josh Warrington in the seventh round of his featherweight world title defence in Sheffield.
The Nottingham fighter was down on all three judges’ score cards before reminding the fans in attendance, and those watching in anticipation live on DAZN, that he should never be written off.
In the end, it was a chopping counter-right hand from Wood that sent Warrington crashing down to the canvas following several more unanswered shots.
Whilst Wood deserves ample credit for his victory which, given Warrington’s resume at world level, is almost certainly his best career win to date, the result of the fight does not accurately represent what played out during the preceding rounds, as the Leeds Warrior proved to the boxing world that he is by no means past his best, or even shot-worn, contrary to certain accusations that were made in the build-up.
As expected, the two house-hold names entered the arena to the familiar sounds of their adoring fans. This occasion facilitated a coming together of Nottingham and Leeds supporters, which created a football-like atmosphere that was, in every sense of the word, fitting for a domestic dustup of such magnitude.
It was evident from the opening round that the bout would make for an intriguing clash of styles. Being the physically bigger of the two, Wood looked to keep Warrington on the end of a stiff southpaw-jab before switching back to his preferred orthodox stance later on. Perhaps this was an early attempt to offset his opponent’s rhythm, given that the former IBF world champion had struggled against Kid Galahad, who also fought as a southpaw, back in 2019.
Meanwhile, Warrington had done precisely what the majority of people expected; setting a hellacious pace to outwork his opponent in large spells. A tactic that was executed to perfection against the likes of Lee Selby and Carl Frampton had seemingly taken its toll on Wood, who failed to keep Warrington at bay with the southpaw-right.
Then, as Warrington continued to close down the distance effectively with his feet, Wood, now back in his usual orthodox stance, timed a sickening right-hook to counter a looping right to the body from Warrington. Despite getting back to his feet, Warrington was in no position to continue and the fight was rightly waved off by the referee.
This emphatic end to the contest proves two things. One, that Wood carries enough power to change the course of a fight at any given moment. And two, that he is astutely aware of any tendencies or patterns revealed by his opponent.
Prior to the stoppage, Warrington was having success by leading with body shots to land high-volume combinations on the inside. However, he often dropped his guard when loading up for the attack, which gave Wood an opening to conclude his performance that seemed, at least before the seventh round, relatively lacklustre for those unaware of the decisive finish that had been brewing.
While fans will, rightly so, be quick to adulate Wood and discuss potential fights with the likes of Joe Cordina up at 130 lbs, it is equally as important to commiserate the fighter in defeat. Post-fight interviews are always misleading, as demonstrated by Warrington’s father and trainer Sean O’Hagan, who’s judgement when disputing the referee’s decision to stop the contest on the Seconds Out YouTube channel can only be explained by the overwhelming emotion he was experiencing at that brief moment in time.
In a sport that seems to convey a different story each day, it is easy for great champions to be left underappreciated or almost entirely forgotten. But given the memorable nights that Warrington has served the British public, one can only hope that this slight blemish on his record will not cause him to lose sight of what he has achieved, as the feeling of loneliness and despair in the wake of a defeat is often difficult to avoid, especially when the attention swings instantly in favour of the winner.