Nottingham’s Leigh Wood has been named the sole featherweight WBA world champion following long and ultimately futile attempts to fight former ‘super’ champion, Leo Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz won the belt in 2015, and has held it ever since – other than losing to Carl Frampton before getting it back in an immediate rematch.
His last defence at 126lb was in February of 2019, before he moved up in weight to challenge the likes of Miguel Flores and Gervonta Davis. It’s long been assumed by many in the sport that the Mexican had no intention of dropping back down a division.
Wood knocked out Chinese champion, Can Xu, in February 2021 to win the regular version of the WBA strap, and has been keen to face his ‘super’ champion ever since.
The fight was called for by the WBA, but this week they released a statement confirming Santa Cruz was relinquishing his ‘Super’ title.
“Leigh Wood is the only featherweight champion by the World Boxing Association (WBA) after the Super Champion, Leo Santa Cruz, relinquished the title on Monday, the same day the purse bid was was scheduled to take place.
The pioneer organization had approved the fight between both 126 lbs. champions and the bidding would be held during the Centennial Convention in Orlando, Florida. However, the Mexican’s team informed that he would relinquish his belt, leaving the British fighter as the only champion of the division.”
They organisation went on to say that the decision was a further step in its plan to reduce unnecessary belts in weight classes.
“Now the WBA has 11 unique champions of the 17 divisions, a new advance in the World Title Reduction Plan that was launched in August 2021 and that has brought a fruitful results to date.
The WBA will continue to make decisions aimed at achieving this goal, with the intention of having a single champion in all divisions.”
Leigh Wood is expected to reschedule a postponed fight with Mauricio Lara, however could also pursue a unification bout with Luis Alberto Lopez, a second fight with Michael Conlan, or a grudge match with Josh Warrington.