With the WBA featherweight title picture finally grinding back into motion, the time has come to crown the next mandatory challenger. Probellum announced today that no. 1 Thomas Patrick Ward has been ordered to face no. 2 Otabek Kholmatov for a shot at the winner of Leo Santa Cruz vs Leigh Wood.
They also misspelled “confirmed.”
Ward (33-0-1, 5 KO) has a pretty record, but he’s been content to graze on mediocre opponents on the British scene. He hasn’t beaten a notable fighter since beating Jazza Dickens in 2017, and he’s two years removed from a technical draw with Thomas Essomba.
Uzbekistan’s Kholmatov (10-0, 9 KO) is coming off a wide unanimous decision over then-unbeaten Andranik Grigorian in what was apparently not a final eliminator. That was his first taste of real competition, but he’s also only been a pro for less than 14 months, so that’s a bit more excusable than Ward’s years of cruise control.
Seems like a solid matchup between featherweights with something to prove. Jury’s out on whether either man poses a threat to Santa Cruz or Wood, but it’s got its own merits.