Leo Santa Cruz looks set to fight Leigh Wood after all.
The Mexican had requested a permit to unify his WBA Super world title at featherweight against WBC champion Rey Vargas. However, the WBA – whose regular champion is Nottingham ace Wood – ordered Santa Cruz to meet the Brit next or risk being stripped.
The fight between Santa Cruz, 33, based in California, and ‘Leigh-thal’ was initially put together by the sanctioning body on April 6.
However, after it was revealed that Wood’s promotional outfit, Matchroom Boxing, would refuse to take step-aside money for the contest, it has been confirmed that ‘El Terremoto’ will move ahead with the fight.
Wood won the regular version of the WBA’s belt at featherweight with a stunning final round stoppage of China’s Can Xu at the Matchroom Boxing HQ 12 months ago and, similarly, defended the belt in scintillating fashion earlier this year, stopping Belfast’s Michael Conlan in the final of 12 stanzas at Nottingham Arena.
Santa Cruz won the title in January 2017 with a majority decision over Conlan’s fellow Ulsterman Carl Frampton and has made three defences. His last mandatory defence came way back in 2018, a unanimous decision win over Abner Mares, and he hasn’t boxed down at 126lbs since February 2019, with his last three performances taking place a division north at super-featherweight.
Before the latest development, it was understood that discussions were underway for a potential showdown between Wood and Leeds’ Josh Warrington, the IBF champion at the weight. But the all-British clash now looks set to take a backseat as 33-year-old Wood gets a shot at the main portion of his belt, having won his last three by stoppage since losing to Jazza Dickens by majority decision for the WBO European title at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London back in February 2020.
Details of the fight between Santa Cruz and Wood are said to be being ironed out sooner rather than later, with an official announcement set to come soon.