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Michael Conlan challenges Leigh Wood on March 12th in Nottingham

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By Jack Tiernan: #1 ranked Michael Conlan will be traveling to Nottingham to take on WBA ‘regular’ featherweight champion Leigh Wood on March 12th. There would be as many as 10,000 fans at the Nottingham Arena for the Wood vs. Conlan fight on the night.

Conlan is optimistic about his chances for victory despite going into the lion’s den to challenge Wood in front of his fans and maybe needing a knockout to win.

The unbeaten 2016 Olympian Conlan (16-0, 8 KOs) is taking a massive risk in fighting Nottingham’s Leigh Wood (25-2, 15 KOs) in his own backyard. Still, he wasn’t interested in coming to Belfast, Ireland, to defend his WBA secondary strap in front of Michael’s Irish boxing fans for obvious reasons.

Conlan shows courage fighting Wood in Nottingham

It’s a questionable move on the 30-year-old Conlan’s part to face Wood in his home territory because it could prove difficult to win a decision in that environment, particularly if he’s allowed to rough him up without being penalized or disqualified.

It will be tough for Conlan to beat the 33-year-old Wood in Nottingham. He’ll likely be using his tried and true straight-arm tactics all night long as he did in his recent 12th round knockout victory over Can Xu on July 31st.

The 5’8″ Conlan will enjoy a two-inch reach and a one-inch height advantage over the 5’7″ Wood in this fight, so if Leigh chooses to hold his left arm out in front of him to keep Michael from getting close, it won’t be as effective for the Nottingham fighter as it was for him against Xu last July.

Wood used the straight-arm tactic to perfection, holding his left arm extended far out in front of him like a giant broom, keeping his shorter opponent Xu from getting close enough to use his high-volume attack to overwhelm him with punches. It was textbook with the way Wood used his straight-arm to keep Xu from getting near enough to punch him.

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Indeed, the referee working the fight, Marcus McDonnell, should have addressed Leigh Wood’s use of his illegal straight-arms in the first round, but it never happened and proved to be the difference in the fight.

Without Can Xu getting close to Wood due to his straight arms, it was a one-sided affair. It was an odd fight, though, because it was so evident that Wood should have been warned, penalized, or disqualified for his straight arms, but it didn’t happen, and poor Xu never stood a chance.

Wood didn’t want to fight in Belfast

“We’re going into the lion’s den: March 12 at the Nottingham Arena,” said Conlan to Irishnews about him fighting Leigh Wood in his backyard.

Wood didn’t fancy Belfast and Ben Davison (his coach) didn’t fancy Belfast, so we’ll bring Belfast to them. I’m happily going to their town, and I’ll be ripping the belt off them.”

“I’d be a fool if I worried about that,” Conlan said about fighting Wood in Nottingham.

“It doesn’t bother me where it is because I’m going to win; I know the decision in the ring will be the same – I’ll be walking out victorious with my hand raised,” said an exuberant Conlan.

I’ll punch the head off him for 12 rounds if needs be – that’s just the way the cookie’s going to crumble. I’m happy, and I’m ready to rock,” said Conlan. “I’ll probably have more people in the arena than Leigh Wood.

Hopefully, Conlan knows what he’s getting himself into by fighting Wood in Nottingham because he could be sorry later if he’s on the receiving end up a questionable defeat.

Wood hits pretty hard, so if he wins the fight, it’ll likely be by a knockout, particularly if the referee permits him to use his straight-arming the entire contest as he did against Xu.

The WBA should STRIP Leo Santa Cruz of  126-lb title

On a side note, it’s unknown why the World Boxing Association hasn’t already stripped WBA ‘Super World’ featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz of his title and installed Leigh Wood as the champion.

Santa Cruz hasn’t defended his WBA 126-lb title in two and a half years since his 12 round unanimous decision victory over Rafael Rivera in February 2019.

Leo has essentially parked his WBA title for the last 2 1/2 years, not allowing contenders to fight for the belt. The WBA should have already installed Wood as the rightful champion with Santa Cruz no longer defending the belt.




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