“Pressure makes diamonds” is a phrase we often hear from trainer Ben Davison. And who deals with significant pressure the best this Saturday night will determine who has their arm raised in Nottingham….
Davison will be hoping that his man, Nottingham’s Leigh “Leighthal” Wood (25-2 (15 KOs)) will be able to rise to the occasion when he clashes with Michael Conlan (16-0 (8 KOs)) for a career-defining night in his hometown.
Come Saturday night, the eyes of fight fans will be glued to Nottingham for a classic pick ‘em; a proper 50:50 scrap…
And don’t I just love it…. Too long has the big fight spotlight been away from the city which has brought us the likes of Bendigo, Herrol Graham and Carl Froch.
It’s been nearly 10 years since Froch’s three round demolition job of Yusuf Mack; the last time a major title fight landed in Nottingham.
In 2012, Froch and Nottingham had become synonymous for electric atmospheres, high-octane action and ferocious knockouts. His emphatic knockout win against Romanian Lucian Bute in May will surely go down as one of the best British fights of the 2010s.
Let’s hope it’s not another 10 years before the big fight circus is back in town.
Carl Froch’s fights at the Nottingham arena will live long in the memory thanks to one of the most partisan crowds in recent British boxing history.
A 9,000 sell out on Saturday night will comprise of circa 5,000 Leigh Wood fans and 4,000 Michael Conlan fans..
The raucous Nottingham crowd pitted against a 4,000 strong travelling contingent from Belfast ought to blow the roof off the arena and this has all the hallmarks of a British boxing classic.
Conlan has made consistent references throughout the build up alluding to an Irish takeover of Nottingham…
It could be worth noting here the comparison between Lucian Bute and Conlan. Bute came to Nottingham as a huge draw across the pond and he arrived in Nottingham accompanied by a small army of loud Romanian fans.
But neither he nor his fans were ready for what awaited them in Nottingham….
Leigh Wood has made clear that he believes a familiar tale will unfold as the Irish fans “will not come here and take over. No chance.” Wood believes the Nottingham crowd “will drown them out vocally”, just as he plans to overwhelm Conlan physically.
There is little doubt that Saturday night will deliver in the stands. Let’s hope the action in the ring is befitting of the cauldron which will engulf both men as the first bell sounds.
Leigh Wood represents a real success story for British boxing; a role model for any young fighter.
Only two years ago, it looked as though Leigh Wood’s career was over before it had even started beyond domestic level.
After a punishing defeat to Jazza Dickens, Wood would have been forgiven for wondering if his chance at world level had slipped away.
Leigh’s career to date has been a tale of hard graft and perseverance. The vast majority of his fights have been hosted in leisure centres and small hall venues…
However, leaving the Ingle set up and joining Ben Davison and Lee Wylie at the MTK performance centre in Essex has done wonders for 33 year old’s career.
A meteoric 2021 saw Wood win the British title against Reece Mould in February before stepping up to world level for the first time to destroy the Chinese ‘Monster’ Xu Can to win the WBA ‘regular’ featherweight championship of the world.
Wood has truly come up the hard way. He’s fought at just about every level imaginable in the pro game; from the British masters title to the WBA ‘regular’ world strap.
It is a disgrace that Wood has not been elevated to WBA ‘super’ champion. Leo Santa Cruz has not defended his WBA ‘super’ world title in over two years, with him now campaigning at super-featherweight.
A win on Saturday will see Leigh Wood fulfil his childhood dream of fighting at Nottingham Forest’s world famous City Ground.
He is one fight away from turning into reality what would’ve been considered a mere pipe dream two years ago.
Highly skilled; well schooled and unquestionably a supreme amateur talent; there is no doubt that Michael Conlan lacks any of the pedigree or will to win required to triumph in his first world title bid on Saturday night.
Much has been expected of the Northern Irishman from the day he began his highly anticipated professional career.
Has he failed to deliver thus far?
If that’s a step too far, then he’s certainly not set the world alight as a pro. He has struggled to hurt opponents despite often finding a home for his neat and speedy combinations.
However, he now has the opportunity to fulfil his prophecy of becoming a world champion on the big stage.
Conlan is clear that a win this Saturday night will be the start of something special; he is fervent in his belief that he will soon enough be considered as one of the pound-for-pound best.
Michael Conlan is priced at 8/15 to get the win, with Leigh Wood priced at 11/8 for the victory.