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It's a contrast of styles and characters as Josh Warrington takes on British rival Leigh Wood… with the WBA featherweight world title on the line in Sheffield

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  • Leigh Wood defends his belt against two-time world champion Josh Warrington 
  • The Utilita Arena in Sheffield is expected to be packed to its 13,600 capacity
  • Mail Sport’s new WhatsApp Channel: Get the breaking news and exclusives here

Boxing is providing immediate supporting evidence for the Prime Minister’s change of track from HS2 to new high speed rail links between and across the north and the midlands.

Thousands of fans of Leigh Wood and Josh Warrington travel this Saturday from Nottingham and Leeds respectively for their world featherweight championship clash in neutral Sheffield.

As well as traffic jams expect a mad scramble for slow late night trains with the fight unlikely to end much before midnight.

Pretty well anywhere outside that triangle of travel corridors there will be little more than passing interest but both boxers command huge and loyal support in their home towns and the Utilita Arena is expected to be packed to its 13,600 capacity.

And never mind that Wood is evading a tough mandatory defence and Warrington is coming off a defeat which hardly qualifies him to be the challenger.

Josh Warrington (R) faces Leigh Wood (L) in WBA featherweight title fight on Saturday night

Josh Warrington (R) faces Leigh Wood (L) in WBA featherweight title fight on Saturday night

This fight has been commercially crafted from the long tradition of domestic bust ups and the contrast in styles between these two good ol’ boys has some potential for living up to that history of two-Brit blood and thunder.

Wood, the 35-year-old WBA champion for a second time, is an artisan craftsman who will box his way through the 12-round distance if necessary to land the decision.

Warrington, 33, the two-time former IBF champion is a raging bull intent on battering his way to victory as soon as possible.

One of the principal dangers to Wood is Warrington’s tendency when in difficulties to launch his headlong charges behind butts. One of which inflicted the cut which caused his rematch attempt at regaining a world title from Mauricio Lara to be called off as a technical draw.

Wood, in winning his rematch after being knocked out by Lara, showed significant improvement on an already tidy technique.

They differ in character, also.

Warrington has become more bellicose in his optimistic statements as the fight approaches. Wood has remained calm and mostly courteous.

Fans of Wood and Warrington will travel from Nottingham and Leeds respectively

Fans of Wood and Warrington will travel from Nottingham and Leeds respectively

The sheriff of Nottingham is quiet and likeable. The Leeds Warrior is a fun character.

While this is not Benn-Eubank (of old), Lewis-Bruno or Froch-Groves – and nor is it likely to galvanise a global audience – this should be enjoyable to watch in its UK context.

The winner – more likely Wood – is expected to vacate this title and move up a division to challenge Cardiff’s Joe Cordina for his IBF super-middleweight belt. 

One way or another, that will involve some of the great British boxing public in a somewhat longer journey.