Leigh Wood promised to knock out Michael Conlan when the two came together in Nottingham for the press conference ahead of their March 12 title fight. 

Wood makes the first defense of the WBA "reagular" featherweight title he claimed from Can Xu last summer against Belfast’s Conlan at Nottingham Arena. 

There was some needle as they met for their first time at a press conference in Nottingham on Wednesday, Wood saying that if Conlan was still standing at the start of the 12th round, he would still knock him out. 

“I’ve been in with big punchers my whole life, I had over 250 fights in the amateurs and have sparred numerous rounds,” Conlan said when asked if he was concerned about Wood’s power. 

“Name one?” Wood interjected. 

“Oscar Valdez is a bigger puncher than you, I’ve been sparring him for ages,” Conlan said. “You are not a one-punch knockout artist, you have not put one person to sleep.” 

This will be the first world title fight in nearly a decade when Carl Froch beat Lucian Bute and Yusaf Mack there in 2012.  

“We’ve been wanting to come back to this city for a long time and now we have the excuse to do it with a brilliant, brilliant fight,” promoter Eddie Hearn said. 

“We talked about Madison Square Garden, we talked about Belfast, but this guy is the champion and Nottingham was the place to do this.” 

Wood had been on the undercard of the Froch-Mack fight and had been due to be on the Froch-Bute bill. 

“I was supposed to box on that bill,” Wood said. “I sold about £40,000 of tickets but didn’t get on because [Carl] Frampton didn’t stop his lad. 

“It gave me that experience watching how [Froch] handled the pressure - watching him on fight night, watching him at the weigh-in, taking it all in because I knew, eventually, my time would come.” 

Wood believes a win will set up a summer fight at the City Ground, the home of Nottingham Forest, with Hearn hinting that the winner could face Josh Warrington. 

“At ten years old I wanted to do this, I wanted to be in this seat, I am not letting it slip,” he said. “I am one fight away from a City Ground fight, which is my dream.  

“I’m not looking at that fight [Warrington]. I’m not bothered about the belt, I’m not bothered about the money. I’m here to do a job. I’m focused on Conlan, I know what I have to do to win. I’m working on the next seven weeks. I’ll just keep beating the kid who is put in front of me – then you get recognition from beating the fighters.  

“I respect him at a fighter, but he is not someone I’ve watched and thought he does anything different or special. But I do rate him as a fighter, I need to do everything I need to do make sure I win. He’s tricky, we have looked at him in great detail. 

“When Conlan is standing north of me and his legs are walking west, he is going to regret all the sh!t he has talked. I don’t need to discredit him, I know what I can do. I need to go out and do it.” 

Conlan said he will be approaching the fight as if he is the underdog, but says that is his usual approach. 

“I always have an underdog mentality,” he said. “I never walk in any arena with a favorite mentality, I put that mentality in my head when I was a baby – the underdog ready to go against anyone, I don’t give a f----. 

“I always fancy myself. I have answers for anything anybody does, so we’ll see. 

“I was delighted for him [when he won the title], I wished him luck on the week of the fight, I really wanted him to win. I have a lot of respect for him as a person and fighter. Seems like a lovely guy. But f--- all of that until after the fight. 

“I know what type of fighter he is. He has a decent punch, but slow feet, curly head, I’ll punch his head in.” 

Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.