Leigh Wood’s dream of a hometown stadium headliner is not yet ready to become a reality.
BoxingScene.com has learned that plans are on hold for a previously targeted rematch between Nottingham’s Wood and Leeds’ Josh Warrington. Matchroom Boxing hoped to stage the grudge match on May 18 at the famed City Ground, home to the Nottingham Football Forest Club.
An issue with finalizing the venue, at least for that date, has caused the unfortunate delay.
Interestingly, the May 18 date will now be occupied by another fight of British interest. The Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk undisputed heavyweight championship was rescheduled for that date, as confirmed by Saudi Arabia’s Turki Alalshikh. That fight, however, did not at all factor into the decision to postpone plans for Wood-Warrington II, a development that was learned by all involved parties before that point.
Wood (28-3, 17KOs) ended his three-fight 2023 campaign with a come-from-behind, seventh-round knockout of Warrington last October 7 at Utilita Arena in Sheffield. The fight marked the first defense of his second WBA featherweight title reign, though he subsequently vacated the title to instead concentrate on the final stage of his well-celebrated career—high-profile fights, regardless of the stakes.
The 35-year-old, two-time WBA featherweight titlist was adamant after the fight—and really throughout 2023—of his desire to enjoy a main event at City Ground. A rematch with Warrington (31-3-1, 8KOs)—a former two-time IBF featherweight titleholder—was believed to be the perfect fight to bring out the fans, far more than the maximum capacity for Nottingham Arena, where Wood has headlined three times.
Neither Wood nor Warrington have fought since their bitter title fight. Their meeting marked the only ring appearance for Warrington on the year. It came ten months after a December 2022 majority decision defeat to Luis Alberto Lopez to end his second IBF title reign.
Wood’s active year oddly began with a stoppage loss to Mauricio Lara in his Nottingham hometown.
He was ahead on the scorecards before he was dropped in the seventh round. Head trainer Ben Davison subsequently signaled to referee Michael Alexander to stop the fight, much to the chagrin of Wood.
It turned out to be the right call. Wood avoided additional punishment and was at full strength for their May 27 rematch in Manchester, won by Wood via lopsided decision.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox