Will Leigh Wood Sidestep WBA Mandatory Otabek Kholmatov?

WBA Signals Leigh Wood Towards Otabek Kholmatov

WBA orders Leigh Wood to face Otabek Kholmatov next
(clockwise from left) Leigh Wood, Otabek Kholmatov, Josh Warrington, Luis Alberto Lopez | credit: Getty Images

WBA Orders Leigh Wood to Face Mandatory Challenger Otabek Kholmatov

Mandatory title defenses are something that all world champions have to endure. That is the case for two-time WBA featherweight champion Leigh Wood (27-3, 16 KOs). He has been ordered by the World Boxing Association to next face unbeaten mandatory challenger Otabek Kholmatov (11-0, 10 KOs).

This ruling comes days after Wood regained the WBA title with a unanimous decision win in a rematch over Mauricio Lara on May 27. Kholmatov became the mandatory challenger when he destroyed then-number-one contender Thomas Ward in four rounds on March 4 in a WBA featherweight title eliminator.

Following the rematch against Lara, Wood said he would like his next fight to be against either two-time featherweight champion Josh Warrington or reigning IBF featherweight champion Luis Alberto Lopez. But the prospect of Kholmatov was always looming.

The WBA mandatory challenger is a power-punching 24-year-old from Ukraine who currently lives and trains in Hollywood, Florida. Kholmatov may only have eleven professional fights, but he feels he’s ready to fight for a world title.


There’s a question as to whether this ordered bout will occur. The WBA champion is adamant about a big-money fight against Warrington or Lara. Eddie Hearn is the promoter of Wood. Do not be surprised if Hearn reaches out to the representatives of Kholmatov and offers a step-aside fee.

If the mandatory challenger is hell-bent on getting his title shot, Wood would have to either fight Kholmatov or vacate the title. This is something worth paying attention to. Stay tuned to 3kingboxing.com for further updates.

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About Mike W. 1772 Articles
Mike is the host of boxing podcast "Pound 4 Pound Boxing Report" and is a Senior Writer for 3kingsboxing.com.