- Otabek Kholmatov Is The Mandatory Challenger For Leigh Wood’s WBA Featherweight Title
- Kholmatov Believes Wood Is An Easier Fight Than His Last Opponent Thomas Patrick Ward
- The Ubzek Wants To Fight For The World Title Next, Whether That Is Against Wood Or Not
Uzbekistan’s Otabek Kholmatov (11-0, 10 KOs) scored three knockdowns in his fifth-round TKO win over the undefeated Thomas Patrick Ward in March at the Utlita Arena, Newcastle to become the mandatory challenger for the WBA Featherweight title.
When Leigh Wood widely decisioned Mauricio Lara in May to win back the world title, the Brit immediately called out domestic rival Josh Warrington for a City Ground bout. Despite the City Ground being off the table, Wood-Warrington is still the plan as it is the biggest fight for both.
Kholmatov and his trainer Timur Ibragimov, in an exclusive interview with NoSmokeSport, have insisted that he will fight for the world title next, whether that is against Wood or somebody else – likely Matchroom-promoted America, Raymond Ford.
Otabek Kholmatov On Leigh Wood Fight
“We are just waiting”, Ibragimov informed NoSmokeSport when asked about the latest update on Kholmatov’s fight with Wood, “We had a letter from the WBA that until Sep 26 (the fight has to happen)”.
Ibragimov is adamant that Wood, nor any featherweight, cannot beat Kholmatov and therefore the Nottingham-based champion will vacate his title.
“If he’s scared to fight us, then he has to drop his belt. He’ll do anything not to fight Otabek. Nobody at 126 can beat Otabek.”
The trainer, however, issued a challenge to Wood that he could prove himself as the best 126-pounder in the world by facing Kholmatov and beating him. “If he’s the best, here’s my boy come and show that you’re stronger than him.”
The target for Kholmatov is the WBA title and not specifically Wood. “We need to fight for the title, Wood or not.”
One of the reasons Matchroom, the promoter of Wood, may not want him to fight Kholmatov is that the promotional company could lose the belt and one of their star attractions.
Ibragimov told NoSmokeSport, however, that Kholmatov is willing to sign a promotional deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing to secure a Wood fight, even though he is already the mandatory challenger.
“He’s not even the same level as (Thomas Patrick) Ward”, Otabek Kholmatov said, “This will be easier for me than Ward. 3-4 rounds.”
“I’ve prepared my whole life for this moment, I’m the champion without the belt. Very soon I will get my belt and then I’ll collect all the belts. All the champions be ready, Otabek is coming.”