After thrilling 2023 which saw him lose to Mauricio Lara, outclass the dangerous Mexican in an immediate rematch and then score a stunning come from behind knockout of Josh Warrington, Leigh Wood has vacated his WBA featherweight belt and is on the hunt for biggest names and biggest paydays possible in 2024.
Whilst he takes a well deserved rest and ticks over in the gym, Wood has been working the bags alongside the Ben Davison Performance Centre’s latest recruit. Two-time unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua is working with Davison ahead of his fight with Otto Wallin which takes place on the monstrous Day of Reckoning card in Saudi Arabia on December 23rd.
“It’s good to see him doing the things that I once done at the gym and practicing things,” Wood told Secondsout. “Him not quite getting things and then things clicking and then seeing him doing it in sparring. I’m excited to see him fight on December 23rd.”
Fans want to see a return of the aggressive, dominant Joshua who’s first run to the unified heavyweight title culminated in a thrilling victory over Wladimir Klitschko back in 2017. The lengthening list of trainers who have worked with him since Andy Ruiz shockingly stopped him in 2019 have struggled to extract that old aggression out of a more cautious and mature fighter. Joshua himself looks unsure and caught in-between styles, desperate to protect himself and prove himself as a boxer but much more effective when he punches in combination and falls back on the speed and instincts that made him such a force.
Only Joshua knows whether the scars inflicted by that unforgettable stoppage defeat to Ruiz are too deep to ever fully heal but Wood is sure that when Joshua climb through the ropes to fight Wallin, Davison and his team will ensure that he does so with a clear plan of action.
“I can’t say too much but I think in this fight you’ll see AJ being a lot more decisive and that’ll be down to what he’s been doing in the gym and how clear it is what he needs to be doing,” Wood said.
“He knows what he needs to do which will make him a lot more decisive doing it.
“He [Wallin] is tricky. It’s a banana skin really because he can make people look quite bad. He got a good win in his last fight but I think AJ will get a knockout and look good in doing it.”