Leigh Wood achieved his big dream last July 31 when he defeated Can Xu and won the World Boxing Association (WBA) featherweight belt. But as hard as it was to win it, he knows he must now work twice as hard to keep it.
The 33-year-old Briton will defend his crown against Ireland’s Michael Conlan in a tough fight on March 12, in Nottingham, but he knows that only victory will keep him at the top of the division.
“I’m extremely confident. My old mentor [late Sheffield trainer] Brendan Ingle, bless him, before I even made my pro debut, he would say to me winning a world title is hard, but keeping one is harder.” Wood assured the Nottingham Post.
“All this camp, my mentality has been that this is his world title fight. He’ll be bang up for it. I don’t want to be known as the kid who has won one and lost it straight away.”
Wood knows that fitness and preparation are the key to a fight like this, also knows that mental condition plays an extremely important role, so he’s working on that aspect especially.
“I have to go better in this camp to keep the title. I’ve been a favorite in fights and I’ve been the underdog. “My mentality is it’s the same – it’s all up for grabs. I need to beat him so I have a challenger mentality”, he said.