Despite all of the post-fight discussions about bringing great boxing back to Nottingham, the rematch clause in his contract with Xu Can means that Leigh Wood may have to travel if he takes the next steps in the ring.
Wood made a big surprise to stop Can in the finals at Fight Camp on Saturday night for the “regular” WBA featherweight title, happily telling reporters that he hoped this would lead to a fight at the City Ground, the home stadium of Nottingham, would lead forest.
The rematch clause makes this unlikely, although Wood said he wouldn’t mind if he had to go to China for the rematch.
“No problem,” said Wood. “I had six weeks notice for this fight. We’ll do it all over again with a 12-week camp. ”
When Wood returned to his locker room at Fight Camp after his coronation to the WBA featherweight title, it was after midnight, which meant he was just 33 years old. It might not have been the most noticeable birthday, but it was one of Wood’s never forgotten.
He had been selected as an opponent by Can’s promoters Golden Boy to help Can shake off the ring rust after he hadn’t boxed since 2019. It turned out to be a poor choice as Wood Can consistently dominated.
Wood didn’t become a professional British champion until February after nearly a decade as a professional. “A life changing night,” said Eddie Hearn.
Wood had only been given six weeks to fight, but he worked out a plan with his trainer Ben Davison that worked perfectly. It continued a remarkable run for Davison, the coach of Josh Taylor, the undisputed super-lightweight world champion who hasn’t coached a boxer to defeat since 2016.
“I was standing next to Ben when I got word that I was offered the fight,” said Wood. “Ben just said, ‘We can win this fight’. It took me about three minutes to say yes.
“It was the game plan. I worked on it day in and day out, even last night, and I got text messages before the fight just to remind myself what to do. It’s up to these guys, I had complete confidence in them and complete security to go out and do it. It’s just part of the process, little paragraphs that I have to remember, important points. ”
If for some reason the Xu rematch doesn’t die, there will be a clash against the IBF featherweight bout winner on Saturday between Kid Galahad – a former gymnastics colleague of Wood – and Jazza Dickens – who defeated Wood 18 months ago – or Josh Warrington if he wins the rematch with Mauricio Lara on September 4th.
“I’ll tell you what, you’re coming to Nottingham,” said Wood.
The last time big boxing took place in Nottingham was during the heyday of Carl Froch, who was in the crowd on Saturday night cheering on a man who was twice on his undercard at Nottingham Arena – two very different nights for Wood.
“I was supposed to box on Lucian Bute’s bill but I was the floater and the fight between Carl Frampton (with Raul Hirales) was going on too long and I never got any further,” said Wood. “But I boxed Yusaf Mack’s bill.
“It was brilliant because when they took me out the place was full. It was a great experience to box in front of a huge home crowd.
“I was devastated on Bute night. It was horrible, I warmed up three times and didn’t fight. But when I saw Carl after he won, it was a great night. ”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was a boxing correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001 to 2019 – at four Olympic Games and numerous World Cup fights around the world. Since the 1980s, he has written on boxing for a variety of publications around the world.