The WBA will be ordering WBA ‘Super World’ featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz to defend against ‘regular’ 126-lb champion Leigh Wood. The 34-year-old Wood (26-2, 16 KOs) still needs to recover from his bicep injury, which he needs to show proof of its existence.
Once Wood is healthy enough to fight, he and Santa Cruz (38-2-1, 19 KOs) will battle as part of the WBA’s world title reduction plan.
Wood had been scheduled to defend against the dangerous puncher Mauricio Lara until pulling out of the fight due to a bicep injury.
The bicep injury was convenient for Wood because it potentially saved him from a knockout loss against the 24-year-old hard-hitting Lara. Some fans think Wood isn’t really injured and was just looking for a way to swerve the dangerous Lara, who would be bad news for the 34-year-old Brit at this stage in his career. The medical report will show whether Wood is injured or not.
Wood looked terrible in his last fight, needing to rally to defeat Michael Conlan last March. Leigh would have lost that fight if not for Conlan gassing out. Lara has a really good engine, and he would have been all over Wood.
It’s unclear what Santa Cruz will gain by fighting Wood because it’s not a match-up that will interest American boxing fans. Santa Cruz would have been better off vacating his WBA title and facing WBC 126-lb champion Rey Vargas for his belt.
Wood captured his WBA secondary 126-lb title with a 12th round knockout win over Can Xu last year in July. Wood got away with using an illegal straight arm during the Xu fight, which he used to keep him on the outside.
“The World Boxing Association (WBA), through its championships committee in an extensive review of the feather division, decided that Leigh Wood must face Leo Santa Cruz in his return to the ring after his injury as part of the World Title Reduction Plan,” said WBA.
“The WBA has requested Wood’s team to provide reports and examinations of his injury to be forwarded to the medical committee for an evaluation and a subsequent designation of an estimated date for the champion’s return.”
Santa Cruz had been hoping to fight Rey Vargas next, but unfortunately, he’s now stuck fighting Wood in a lesser fight.