Leigh Wood promised to take out Michael Conlan as the two headed to Nottingham together for their March 12 pre-match press conference.
Wood has his first defense of the “reagent” WBA featherweight belt he claimed from Can Xu last summer against Belfast’s Conlan at Nottingham Arena.
There were some marks when they first met during a press conference in Nottingham on Wednesday, with Wood saying that if Conlan were still at the top of round 12 he would still have eliminated him.
“I’ve been with the big boxers all my life, I’ve had over 250 amateur fights and fought many rounds,” Conlan said when asked if he was worried about Wood’s strength.
“Name one?” Wood interjected.
“Oscar Valdez is a bigger boxer than you, I’ve been chasing him for years,” Conlan said. “You’re not an artist punching a punch, you haven’t put a person to sleep.”
It will be the first world title fight in nearly a decade when Carl Froch defeated Lucian Bute and Yusaf Mack there in 2012.
“We’ve wanted to return to this city for so long and now we have a reason to do it with a brilliant, brilliant fight,” said promoter Eddie Hearn.
“We talked about Madison Square Garden, we talked about Belfast, but this guy is a champion and Nottingham is the place to do it.”
Wood joined the Froch-Mack fight and is expected to be on the Froch-Bute bill.
“I had to box on that bill,” Wood said. “I sold around £40,000 tickets but didn’t get any money because [Carl] Frampton didn’t stop his guy.
“It gave me the experience to see how [Froch] handle the pressure – watch him on the night of the fight, watch him at the head-to-head match, accept it all because I know, eventually, my time will come. ”
Wood believes a win will set up a summer fight at the City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest, with Hearn hinting that the winner could face Josh Warrington.
“At the age of ten, I wanted to do this, I wanted to be in this chair, I didn’t let it slide,” he said. “I am one match away from the City Ground battle, that is my dream.
“I don’t look at that war [Warrington]. I don’t mind the belt, I don’t mind the money. I came here to do a job. I’m focused on Conlan, I know what I have to do to win. I’m working for the next seven weeks. I will continue to beat the child in front of me – then you will be recognized for defeating the boxers.
“I respect him in a boxer, but he’s not someone I’ve followed and thought he’d do anything different or special. But I rate him as a fighter, I need to do everything necessary to make sure I win. He’s tricky, we’ve looked at him in great detail.
“When Conlan is standing north of me and his feet are going west, he will regret everything he said. I don’t need to discredit him, I know what I can do. I need to go out and do it.”
Conlan said he would approach the fight as if he were the underdog, but said that was his usual approach.
“I have always had a bad mentality,” he said. “I never entered any arena with the mentality of liking, I put that mentality in my head as a child – the weak are ready to confront anyone, I don’t allow —-.
“I have always liked myself. I have an answer for anything anyone does, so we’ll see.
“I am very happy for him [when he won the title], I wished him luck in the week, I really wanted him to win. I have great respect for him as a human being and a fighter. Looks like a lovely guy. But f — all of that until after the fight.
“I know what kind of fighter he is. He’s got a decent punch, but slow legs, curly head, I’ll punch him in the head.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was a Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 – covering 4 Olympic Games and many world title fights around the globe. He has written about boxing for numerous publications worldwide since the 1980s.
https://www.boxingscene.com/conlan-on-wood-decent-punch-slow-feet-curly-head-ill-punch-his-head–163552 Wood Conlan: Skillful Punch, Slow Legs, Curly Head – I’ll Punch in the Head!