WBA Orders Leigh Wood vs Otabek Kholmatov Featherweight Title Fight

Leigh Wood vs Otabek Kholmatov Featherweight Title Fight
Leigh Wood(left) was ordered to fight Otabek Kholmatov (right)

World Boxing Association(WBA) has formally ordered WBA Featherweight Champion Leigh Wood to defend the title against mandatory challenger Otabek Kholmatov.

UK’s Leigh Wood defeated Mexico’s Mauricio Lara to reclaim the title 3 days back in the headliner bout of the night at AO Arena in Manchester, UK. This was a rematch after Lara got a knockout win over Wood in their first encounter in March this year.

Even before the rematch, both Lara and Wood were told by WBA that the winner had to fight against the mandatory challenger next. WBA ruled at the time that Lara’s first title defense had to be finalized before April 18 and that winner faces Otabek Kholmatov next.

Lara was stripped of the title before his title defense last weekend due to weight miss. BBBofC did not allow him to weigh less than 128.5 lbs on Friday, 2.5 lbs more than the featherweight title limit. The ruling came due to Lara coming in well above the three-percent threshold during a mid-week weight-check on Wednesday. The fight only proceeded when Lara went for another weigh-in on Saturday morning to prove that he has not rehydrated massively for an unfair advantage in the fight against Wood.

The title was on the line for Wood in the fight and he made sure he won it back to become a 2-time featherweight champion. If Lara had won, WBA might have ordered a new challenger for Kholmatov for the vacant title fight. With Wood’s win, WBA ordered the mandatory defense right away.

“The World Boxing Association(WBA) Championships Committee ordered the fight between the WBA Featherweight Champion, Leigh Wood, and the number one challenger of the category, Otabek Kholmatov”.

Uzbekistan’s Kholmatov became the mandatory challenger just two weeks after the first encounter between Lara and Wood. He defeated Thomas Patrick Ward in the WBA title eliminator on March 18. Kholmatov holds an unbeaten record in 11 fights with 10 wins via knockout.

The promoters of both fighters, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing(Wood) and Svyatoslav Mangushev of Undisputed Boxing Championship(Kholmatov) have 30 days until June 29 to reach an agreement for the fight. After this period, WBA can order a fight purse auction. The fight has to take place no later than September 26, 2023.

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