WOOD RIPS WBA FEATHERWEIGHT WORLD TITLE FROM XU CAN WITH 12TH-ROUND STOPPAGE
Leigh Wood stopped Xu Can in the 12th and final round to claim the WBA Featherweight World Title in a big upset at the top of the bill on the first week of Matchroom Fight Camp in Brentwood, Essex, live worldwide on DAZN.
‘Leigh-thal’ created history by becoming only the second ever boxer from Nottingham to become a World Champion – following in the footsteps of former IBF Super-Middleweight World Champion Carl Froch who was watching on from ringside.
After only competing at British level throughout his career, Wood was thought to be up against it against Can, but it was clear from the opening bell that the powerful Ben Davison-trained puncher belonged on the big stage.
As the fight entered the championship rounds, Can tried to put his foot down as he felt his crown slipping, but he would pay for that approach in a memorable last session. A superb right hand dropped the Chinese fighter and after rising to his feet, Wood wasted no time in forcing the stoppage.
“It feels good you know, to get the stoppage over the line in a great and high-paced fight, the last round with six weeks’ notice, I couldn’t have done anymore,” Wood told Matchroom afterwards.
“I did say in an interview that I’m going to be catching him clean and it’s not down to me how long the fight lasts, it’s down to him pretty much. I could have sustained that all night. He took some big shots, big heart, credit to him but the accumulation has its effect as well. The shot I finished him with wasn’t as big as the ones I caught him with earlier on, but they took their toll, I caught him and got the stoppage.
“I had belief in my power, not only do I have big power, but I know how to get it off, how to set it up and how to mix it up. That’s the biggest factor in working with Ben, Lee Wylie and Barry Smith, they’ve really changed the game for me.
“He definitely wasn’t throwing 120 punches a round and that’s down to the game plan. Everyone was saying how are you going to do it, what are going to do, are you going to hit him hard, are going to hold him, it was down to the game plan. Even people watching don’t understand, but that’s a conversation for another day.
“Hopefully the younger generations see this and think you know what, he’s done it, World Champion, British, Commonwealth, European, hopefully people decide to go pick up a pair of boxing gloves and start their journey.
“Ben and Lee said to me they’ve never been so confident in someone getting the tactics right as much as me going into this fight. I thought that was a big statement, I was doing everything they wanted me to do. I executed it pretty much to perfection and credit to those guys for getting it right – I just do as I’m told, and it works.
“I’m easy, redemption with Dickens would be great for myself. Full confidence in Ben getting my tactics right for that fight, I had a bad night that fight, first southpaw I boxed as a pro, I’d like to put that right naturally.
“But if there’s bigger fights, I said I wanted the Navarrete fight he’s explosive like me, that’ll be absolute fireworks. People might slate me and say it’s a regular title, let’s fight for the super title, let’s unify – I want big fights.
“My career was stalled earlier on. In three years I’ve been British, Commonwealth, WBO European and now World Champion. My best years are definitely to come.”
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing