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WBA mandates Wood-Conlan clash

The WBA has ordered its Regular featherweight champion Leigh Wood to face Belfast’s Michael Conlan.

Representatives for Nottingham’s Wood (Matchroom Boxing) and former amateur star Conlan (Conlan Boxing and MTK Global) were contacted on Friday and now have 30 days to negotiate before the bout heads to purse bids.

The move is part of the WBA’s plan to reduce its number of title belts and add greater credibility to its ratings following the outrage that greeted Interim welterweight champion Gabriel Maestre’s highly controversial decision over Mykal Fox earlier this month.

Wood (25-2, 15 KOs) clinched the WBA Regular crown with a stirring 12th round stoppage of Xu Can on July 31 – with the Chinese ex-champion expected to trigger a rematch clause – whereas Conlan (16-0, 8 KOs) won the organisation’s Interim belt one week later against former IBF 122lbs champion TJ Doheny (W12).

Interim bouts have since been eliminated and the WBA’s champions in the same division must now fight each other to add welcome clarity to the organisation’s murky title picture. The winner of Wood-Conlan will then become the mandatory challenger for the WBA’s Super champion at 126lbs Leo Santa Cruz though the Mexican hasn’t fought in the division since February 2019 and is coming off a crushing six-round loss to Gervonta Davis last October at 130lbs.

Main image: Matchroom Boxing/Top Rank