Leigh Wood could well face Mauricio Lara later this year –– but the hard-hitting featherweight has other Mexican problems at hand first.
The WBA ‘regular’ featherweight titlist looks to be in line to meet the former opponent of Josh Warrington, with September 24 the rumoured date for the clash.
But Wood (26-2, 12 KOs), whose trainer Ben Davison has been talking up a potential showdown with the current IBF champion at the weight, Warrington, must first deal with the issue surrounding his ordered fight against the WBA’s Super champion in the 126-pound division Leo Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz had requested a permit to unify his WBA Super world title at featherweight against WBC champion Rey Vargas. However, the WBA ordered the California-based fighter to meet the Brit next or risk being stripped after the clash was initially ordered back in April.
‘El Terremoto’ (38-2-1, 19 KOs) then confirmed that he would move ahead with the fight and take on ‘Leigh-thal’, from Nottingham, next. That was before the WBA revealed that the purse splits for the contest would be 75 per cent to 25 per cent in favour of Santa Cruz.
And now the WBA has scheduled a purse bid hearing for the fight for August 12.
Wood won the secondary title last year with a stunning 12th-round knockout win over Xu Can before defending it in a similar fashion in his home city against Michael Conlan, getting up off the floor in the opener to knock Conlan out of the ring in the final round before it was immediately stopped.
Santa Cruz returned to the ring in a 10-round decision win over Keenan Carbajal on February 5 in Las Vegas. The fight was just his third since the last time he has fought at featherweight, which saw him outpoint Ricardo Rivera over 12 back in February 2019. His three fights since then have all come at or just under the super featherweight limit.
The minimum allowed bid for the long-overdue fight is $150,000, with promoters also required to submit a $5,000 non-refundable participation fee.
Wood was prepared to walk away from the contest and face Warrington in a domestic dust-up.
Warrington, who suffered a fractured jaw and broken hand last time out, will be eyeing a return to the ring before the end of the year after regaining his world championship with a seventh-round stoppage of former adversary Kiko Martinez – who himself is back later this year – in a rematch at the First Direct Arena in March.
He now looks set to face his mandatory, Mexico’s Luis Alberto Lopez, after his promoter Eddie Hearn –– who also looks after Wood –– said that would be the next step before a potential all-British battle.
Lopez is 28 and has a respectable record of 25-2 with 14 quick finishes. He has previously boxed in the UK, at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, last December, when he came over and dropped Isaac Lowe twice before stopping him with a body shot in the seventh of 12 scheduled rounds.