Say whatever you will about WBA featherweight titlist, Leigh Wood, he certainly has a flair for the dramatic. That was shown once again as he had to rally in order to retain his belt against the hard-nosed Josh Warrington.
For much of seven rounds, Wood -- ranked number three in the division by Ring Magazine -- was consistently beaten to the punch, and was buzzed on more than one occasion. Normally, Warrington (31-3-1, 8 KOs) isn't a heavy handed sort but he punches quickly and with intent, and once in awhile will use his noggin as a weapon.
But while he doesn't have one punch power, Wood was certainly feeling these on this night at the Sheffield Arena. It was noted that the 35 year old Wood, who in the past has fought as high as junior welterweight, looked like a boxer who really had to stretch himself to make the featheweight limit.
And he did look lethargic and sluggish versus the frenetic attacks of Warrington, and by the early rounds it was clear that this would be a struggle for him. Eventually, his right eye was cut and swollen. Wood was clearly losing the fight. At the end of six rounds, the challenger held the lead on all three scorecards.
Wood was getting chopped up for much of the seventh frame, for 2:45 of that round was Warrington's. Then suddenly and dramatically as Wood went into the southpaw stance, he landed a right-hook that stunned Warrington. Then a follow up five punch salvo which was punctuated by an overhand left sent Warrington crashing to the canvas as the bell rang.
While he courageously got up on his feet, he was unsteady and clearly dazed. It's doubtful that the minutes respite would have been enough for him to properly recover. It says here that referee, Michael Alexander, made the right call in waving off the action.
So once again Wood had done it. Just as he had in rallying to stop Michael Conlan in 2022, a fight that saw him hit the canvas early, get hurt a few times, and then knock Conlan clear out of the ring. Then he was KO'd by Mauricio Lara in February in a bout he was out-boxing the Mexican. Wood avenged that loss a few months later in what was a rather tepid affair.
But for the most part, Wood is involved in fun and entertaining scraps. The question now is, when he performs next, will it be as a junior lightweight. There was evidence that his ordeal in making the 126 pound weight limit exacts a toll on him that carries over into fight night.
Regardless of what weight class he's in, he'll be worth a watch.
In what was a solid back-and-forth affair, Gilbert 'Zurdo' Ramirez, made a successful debut as a cruiserweight, as he defeated Joe Smith over 10 rounds by the tallies of 99-91 on all three 'cards. But it has to be said, the scores do not reflect how competitive Smith was throughout the fight.
Ramirez controlled much of the action from the outside, utilizing his long right, and utilizing some movement. Smith landed his share of heavy blows in the second half of this ten rounder, which was a WBA elimination bout.
“This is a new beginning for me,” said Ramirez. “I came back stronger, faster and I came forward. I was a lot smarter in the ring. I think it was a great performance for me. I don’t have anything to say except thank you, Joe Smith, I think he’s a great fighter and tough opponent. I wish him all the best. We had to take care of business in the ring. I felt like I was ahead on the cards. I never took any chances because he has heavy hands and brings a lot of heat to the ring.”
The current WBA cruiserweight belt-holder is Arsen Goulamirian.
The bout between David Benavidez and Demetrius Andrade will take place on Nov. 25 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas...Ryan Garcia's return against Oscar Duarte will now be staged in Houston, Texas, and not San Antonio as first reported...'Bek the Bully' scored a fourth round stoppage of Alantez Fox on the Ramirez-Smith undercard in Las Vegas....Bob Arum tells me that things are moving forward for Naoya Inoue to face Marlon Tapales in late December in Japan for all the belts at 122....Yeah, I'm dumbfounded by Mario Cristobal's decision to not take a knee in victory formation against Georgia Tech....I can be reached at email@example.com....