STOP THE COUNT: Leigh Wood Is The 2023 British Fighter Of The Year

STOP THE COUNT: Leigh Wood Is The 2023 British Fighter Of The Year

HALFWAY THROUGH, Leigh Wood was losing almost every round, getting badly hurt and the punches from the Nottingham man seemed to have little effect on Josh Warrington.

What followed is truly ANOTHER Rocky story moment, Wood found a combination from somewhere, somehow and produced one of the most spectacular turnarounds that we have seen in recent years, stopping Warrington in the seventh to retain his world Featherweight title.

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NEVER count Leigh Wood out is once again the takeaway. From being the underdog in the Xu Can fight, to getting heavily dropped by Michael Conlan in the first, given little chance in the Mauricio Lara rematch and being well behind in Saturday’s main event – Wood has made a career out of defying the odds.

2023 will go down as the signature year in Wood’s career and he is undoubtedly the British fighter of the year. Three fights for a world champion in eight months is unheard of these days, especially when they are three major fights.

Wood was comfortably outboxing Mexico’s Lara in February until he got too confident, loaded up on a shot and was beaten to the punch. Immediately after, in the ring, Wood insisted on a rematch – going against the advice from members of his team.

Lara fell victim to achieving every boxer’s dream of winning a world title and making life-changing money. He wasn’t the same fighter in the rematch, and it is yet to be seen if he will be the same killer ever again.

Wood comfortably outboxed the Mexican, another fight where he was a heavy underdog going in and boxing fans the day before the fight were calling for the clash to be called off altogether as Lara couldn’t make the 126 limit and would weigh in almost four pounds heavier.

It was deemed too dangerous for Wood, many were predicting a Lara KO even quicker but the Nottingham champion once again proved doubters wrong and produced a masterful display when he most needed it.

Leigh Wood would then go on to choose Leeds’ Josh Warrington as his next foe, a dangerous fight but one necessary to fight in his beloved ‘City Ground’.

Weeks later the stadium was off the table due to pitch concerns, but the opponent remained the same. One of the biggest all-British fights of the year, the kind of fight British boxing was missing as interest in the sport continues to fall in this country.

5-1 down after six, a 7-1 outsider in-play but Wood bit down on his gumshield and found the shot, a right hook that would change the fight on its head.

The 2022 Fight of the Year and 2023 British Fighter of the Year – Leigh Wood should be appreciated whilst he’s still here.

By Darshan Desai