A next step has finally come of the title consolidation fight between Leo Santa Cruz and Leigh Wood.
The long-ago ordered title fight is once again the subject of a purse bid hearing. The WBA has assigned a date of August 12 via Zoom conference call, alerting all registered promoters via official document, a copy of which was obtained by BoxingScene.com.
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. Santa Cruz (38-2-1, 19KOs) is entitled to a 75 percent share of the final bid as the ‘Super’ featherweight titlist, with the remaining 25 percent going to Wood as the WBA ‘World’ titlist.
It remains uncertain whether Santa Cruz-Wood will actually see the light of day, which would mark a sad but fitting end to a saga that has lingered for the past four months. The WBA ordered the fight on April 6, with TGB Promotions (Santa Cruz) and Matchroom Boxing (Wood) unable to reach a deal.
The fight was destined for a purse bid, though the process delayed by months due to Wood’s side protesting the purse split. Matchroom argued on Wood’s behalf that the Brit was entitled to something closer to a 50-50 split as the more active fighter and emerging as the bigger draw since entering the title picture.
Wood (26-2, 12KOs) claimed a secondary version of the belt following a 12th round stoppage of Xu Can last August in Brentwood, Essex, UK. The 34-year-old further rose to fame—and off-the-canvas—in a thrilling 12th round knockout of Belfast’s Michael Conlan this past March 12 in his Nottingham hometown. Wood was decked in the opening round, rallying to floor Conlan in round eleven but trailing on all three scorecards heading into the 12th and final round.
The judges weren’t required in the end, as Wood scored a dramatic 12th round knockout. Conlan was knocked down and out of the ring, prompting an immediate stoppage in the first defense of his title.
The moment came more than a month after Santa Cruz returned to the ring in a ten-round decision win over Keenan Carbajal on February 5 in Las Vegas. The fight was just his third since the last time he’s fought at featherweight, which came in a 12-round decision win over Ricardo Rivera in February 2019. His three fights since then have all come at or just under the junior lightweight limit.
Somehow, he was permitted to retain his WBA ‘Super’ featherweight title during that time. However, the WBA finally intervened in the fourth quarter of 2021, demanding the legendary Mexican either commit to defending his title or vacate the belt he has held since August 2020.
Santa Cruz gave his word that he would move forward with facing the Wood-Conlan winner. However, the decision by Wood and Matchroom to dispute the purse provided the 33-year-old with enough room to attempt to wiggle out of the fight. An exemption was filed to seek permission for Santa Cruz to explore a title unification bout with recently crowned WBC champ Rey Vargas (36-0, 22KOs).
Similarly, Wood’s side has longed for a showdown with two-time IBF titlist Josh Warrington (31-1-1, 8KOs). Such a fight would require a title upgrade, as other sanctioning bodies do not recognize secondary WBA titlists.
The actions of both suggest that the goal has always been to get the other side to walk away from this fight to bring their title to a fight they greater desire. That road cannot be traveled at least until the days following the August 12 purse bid hearing, by which time both sides will have a clearer picture of when and where this title clash will land—and how it compares to the alternative opportunity waiting in the wings.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox