Wood looking to a Leighthal 2015


Updated 11th December 2014

‘Leighthal’ Leigh Wood is raring to get back in the ring after a frustrating 2014.


The Nottingham man, who has overcome injury, illness and the first loss of his professional career, is back fitter and stronger than ever.


Above: Leigh Wood reflects on a frustrating 2014 and looks ahead to next year


“I’m ready for a big 2015,” Leigh said.


“British titles, Commonwealth titles, English titles, anything really, any opportunity that comes up.


“I’m not ruling out fighting at super bantamweight again, I’d like it ideally at featherweight, get a few rounds in, English title ideally and then get a few rounds in in-between to get back in the ring - I’m really excited for 2015.”


The 26-year-old Nottingham man has fought just twice this year in February and May.


His first fight of the year saw him fall short of claiming the British super bantamweight title against Doncaster’s Gavin McDonnell, before claiming an emphatic third round knockout win over Martin Mubiru in his return fight in Nottingham.


Despite suffering defeat, Leigh is philosophical about the experience and feels it has only improved him as a fighter.


“People can believe me or not, but I wouldn’t swap that loss for anything now,” Leigh said.


“From what I gained from it, what I learnt through it, mainly the experience, its all about experience boxing - win lose or draw, if you’re learning and getting that experience, nobody can take that away from you and it’s hard to get that experience in the gym.


“I took that onto my next fight, Mubiru, who was a good kid, he’d won 10, lost five at the time, I think it was and been stopped once,” Leigh said.


“I was taking my time, building into the fight and I just threw an open hand shot, caught him and that’s all she wrote.


“I actually wanted the rounds and I wanted to show everyone what I had taken from that fight, what I’d built on from it.


“But you catch someone with a shot, nine times out of 10 when you’re not looking for it, it comes, but when you come out trying to load up, your shots are stiff and you’re trying to knock someone out, it isn’t going to come.


“Just that day I was so relaxed and building into it and I just caught him and had to finish it because he was gone.”


Following his emphatic win, Leigh travelled across to America with the team, as Ingle Gym’s very own Kell Brook took on Shawn Porter for the IBF world welterweight title at the StubHub Center, Carson, California.


“I went away for Kell, obviously to Vegas and LA to watch Kell win his world title, which was a great experience,” Leigh said.


“There was some good sparring out there against some good kids, I sparred a world champion in (Jorge) Linares, which again was a really good experience.”


Kell fought Porter on 16 August and became the fourth world champion to come out of the Ingle stable, following Prince Naseem Hamed, Johnny Nelson and Junior Witter.


Following this trip, Leigh was unluckily struck by a devastating series of events that would keep him out of the ring for the remainder of the year.


“I came back to England, it was midweek and I thought, ‘I’m not back up to training in Sheffield until Monday,’ so I thought I’d get a few sessions in as I was still buzzing, still flying from getting back from Vegas and watching Kell do that and I just wanted to train,” Leigh said.


“I sparred in Nottingham for a few days and just unlucky, out of the blue, during the sparring I threw a body shot and the kid’s elbow went into my arm and snapped my tendon.


“I didn’t really know how bad it was at first, I thought I’d probably just sprained my muscle or something.


“I went to hospital they told me that I was going to be out for a while. As soon as they said that I thought they probably say that to everyone, you know, they always say the worst, so you expect the worst, but I was quite focused and thought, this isn’t going to keep me out until the end of the year.


“I did everything that I had to do, I had a cast on and did any kind of rehabilitation that I could.


“I ran the half marathon with my cast on and I was running day in day out, just keeping my fitness up.


“My operation was the 3rd of September, so give me another two months after that in my cast and my surgeon said, I went back to him one day not long ago and I’d sparred with Gary Sykes for his British title fight which was good sparring and then a week after that I went back to my surgeon and he said; ‘right you can start doing a bit of boxing and a bit of weights next month.’”


“I’d spared the week before, so I was way ahead of the guidelines he was setting.


“I kept coming in with my cast on, I was hitting the bag with one arm, but it was getting me a bit down, because I was watching everyone training, spar and fight.


“I was going to all my friends’ fights, when Barry (Kid Galahad) boxed for the European.


“I was coming in the gym and doing what I could, but all I could think was ‘I just want to spar.’


“It makes you appreciate your health when you’re 100 percent.


“It is hard because I wanted to fight so bad before the end of the year.


“I was determined after that injury and the loss in February, I’ve only had one fight since and I was determined to get back in the ring and leave it on a good note for the end of the year, but I’ve just got to be patient.


“I think I’ve shown a lot of character with that fight and coming through an injury – it’s just been one thing after another, I was ill in between after that arm injury as well, I’d picked up an illness and was in hospital.


“All these things came in one year, they say things come in threes, but I’ve shown my character and I’m just going to say focused.


“I was expecting to get back in the ring for the 13th of December, but they couldn’t get me on as it was late notice and there just wasn’t enough time, but physically I’m ready.


“I’ve stayed in the gym, I’ve stayed fit, I’m going to stay fit over Christmas and New Year – you’ll probably see me running with my Santa’s hat on or whatever – I’m going to stay on it, an opportunity will come up at the beginning of the year and I’m going to take it.”

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