The finish line is clearly visible to Leigh Wood.
The first task was to regain the title, which the 34-year-old Nottingham native did almost flawlessly. Wood solidly defeated Mauricio Lara over twelve rounds in their DAZN rematch this past Saturday to reclaim the WBA Featherweight title and avenge a one-punch knockout with the Mexico City-born slugger just three months ago. All the focus was on leaving the AO Arena in Manchester back for the title.
After completing this mission, the next step is to plan the rest of his career.
“I just (wanted) to win this fight and then we’ll talk about what comes next,” Wood told BoxingScene.com. “I have maybe two or three fights left. I’m not sure yet, but these must be big fights.
From an alphabetic title standpoint, a mandatory title defense against Otabek Khlomatov (11-0, 10 KOs) of Uzbekistan will likely be ordered by the WBA based on a pre-fight ruling when they agreed to sanction a Wood-Lar rematch. Bigger fights await Wood, in particular a long-running duel with compatriot and former two-time IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington (31-2-1, 7 KOs).
Wood is also interested in unifying the divisions, as long as the politics of the sport allow it.
Michael Conlan’s victory on Saturday in Belfast would mark a rematch for the 2022 fight of the year, which Wood came together to score a dramatic 12th-round knockout on March 12 in his home town of Nottingham. Conlan’s bid for the IBF title ended up landing on the wrong side of the all-important fifth-round knockout, defending Luis Alberto Lopez’s title last Saturday, roughly an hour before Wood’s revenge-fueled win over Lara (26-3-1). , 19 KOs).
Wood was just as keen to take on Mexicali’s Lopez (28-2, 16 KOs), as long as that’s a goal on the to-do list. One of Wood’s (27-3, 16 KOs) dreams is to play at the City Ground, the 125-year-old football stadium that is home to his beloved football club Nottingham Forest.
“I had a career like a fairy tale. It’s time to give me my f—–‘happy ending’, Wood demanded after the win. “Give me a city area.”
His team is prepared to make his dreams come true.
“Leigh Wood, good old school, former fighter,” said Eddie Hearn, Wood’s promoter and head of Matchroom Boxing. A Nottingham legend. We have to – City Ground, we have to. Nottingham Forest, I have to. We have to make that happen.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox