Leigh Wood and Michael Conlan are right back where they left off nearly one month ago.

What has amounted to an extra four weeks of negotiations has not brought the featherweights any closer to a deal. The inability to do so following the last extension has prompted the World Boxing Association (WBA) to reorder a purse bid hearing. The latest session is scheduled for November 1, to be conducted via Zoom conference call.

The session is open to all registered WBA promoters, who are required to submit a minimum bid of $120,000. The winning amount will be split 55/45 in favor of Wood as the defending WBA “World” featherweight titlist. Conlan will collect the remaining 45%, a more favorable split than normally afforded mandatory challengers as he still retains the benefits that came with his previous interim title status.

The fight was first ordered August 27, with two generous extensions granted in order for the two sides to reach a deal. Wood (25-2, 15KOs) is represented by Matchroom Boxing and its chairman Eddie Hearn, while Jamie Conlan—Michael’s older brother and head of Conlan Boxing—and Top Rank’s Carl Moretti negotiated on behalf of Michael Conlan. The initial deadline came and went without a deal in place, prompting the WBA to call for an October 11 purse bid hearing.

Both sides convinced the sanctioning body to postpone the session, of the belief that they were close to reaching a deal. The WBA granted the extension, initially for seven days though with that deadline passing without any action taken as the expectation was for a fight announcement to soon come out of the matter.

The sanctioning body is no longer as confident in that development, prompting the fight to be made available to the highest bidder.  

Wood (25-2, 15KOs) holds the WBA “World” featherweight title, winning the belt in a 12th round knockout of Xu Can on July 31 in Brentwood, Essex, England. The feat came six days prior to Conlan (16-0, 8KOs) winning the WBA “interim” featherweight belt in a 12-round, unanimous decision win over TJ Doheny in his hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Conlan’s reign lasted all of 19 days before the WBA removed interim belts from circulation. The unbeaten featherweight—a two-time Olympian who claimed a Bronze medal during the 2012 London Olympics—was installed as the mandatory challenger, with the secondary title fight ordered immediately thereafter.

The winner of Wood-Conlan will become the mandatory challenger to Santa Cruz who still holds the WBA “Super” featherweight title. Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19KOs) last defended the belt in a February 2019 win over late substitute Rafael Rivera. The four-division titlist has spent his last two fights at junior lightweight, most recently in a sixth-round knockout loss to Gervonta Davis last Halloween.

If Santa Cruz opts out of such a fight or chooses to no longer campaign at featherweight, the WBA will be able to recognize a single titlist by default.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox