The World Boxing Association have finally put their foot down and ordered Leo Santa Cruz to defend his WBA ‘Super’ featherweight title against ‘regular’ champion Leigh Wood. Thirty days have been granted for both parties to negotiate a potential deal, and then if they have no joy a purse bid will then be called.
The timing of the move from the WBA is peculiar to say the least, with Santa Cruz not having defended the title in over three years, raising questions as to why it has taken this long for the WBA to take action. Wood picked up the regular strap last summer in an upset victory over China’s Can Xu, forcing a stoppage in the twelfth and final round at Matchroom HQ to announce himself on the world stage. In even more spectacular fashion, Wood returned to his hometown Nottingham to produce one of the most spectacular comeback victories seen in a British ring in March, coming from behind to knock Michael Conlan out of the ring in front of his adoring home fans to defend his belt.
A mega all-British clash with Leeds’ Josh Warrington had been mooted following the Leeds Warrior’s stoppage of Kiko Martinez last month to reclaim his IBF strap, a fight which would have surely produced a monstrous atmosphere given the two fanbases that would have been involved. It’s certainly frustrating that the WBA have sat on their hands for three years, allowing Santa Cruz to hold their belt to ransom by fighting at weights above before finally stamping down just as two of the big names at 126lbs look to be coming together in the shape of Wood and Warrington. The likelihood of Santa Cruz deciding to move back down to featherweight and defend the title is certainly doubtful, but questions should be raised as to the timing of the move from a major governing body really does benefit the sport.