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Leo Santa Cruz vacates WBA title, Leigh Wood elevated

Image: Leo Santa Cruz vacates WBA title, Leigh Wood elevated

By Brian Webber: Leigh Wood is now the sole WBA featherweight champion after the World Boxing Association revealed today that Leo Santa Cruz has vacated his 126-lb ‘Super’ title.

With Santa Cruz giving up his WBA belt, the 34-year-old Wood (26-2, 16 KOs) is the only champion with that organization at featherweight.

Wood’s promoter Eddie Hearn said last Saturday night that Leigh will defend his WBA title next against Mauricio Lara (25-2-1, 18 KOs) in the City Ground in Nottingham, England, in 2024.

Wood was supposed to have already defended against the powerful 24-year-old Lara, but he backed out of the fight due to an arm injury. Lara didn’t believe that Wood was injured, and he felt that he had pulled out because he didn’t want to face him.

With Lara’s youth, power and toughness, he’s a nightmarish style match-up for Wood, who came close to being beaten in his fight with Michael Conlan last March before pulling out the victory with a 12th round knockout.

Hearn may change his mind about making the Wood-Lara fight now that Wood is the sole WBA 126-lb champion because he mentioned last Saturday that he’d like to match Leigh against either Josh Warrington or newly crowned IBF champion Luis Alberto Lopez in a unification fight.


What’s unclear is why the WBA didn’t strip Santa Cruz of his 126-lb title with their organization ages ago because he hadn’t defended the belt since his victory over Rafael Rivera in 2019.

That fight was three years ago. It’s unbelievable that the WBA didn’t make a move of stripping Santa Cruz. Some boxing fans believed that the WBA didn’t want to strip Leo because of his popularity in the United States.

Santa Cruz has done a heck of a lot with his career, and he’s one of the more popular fighters in the lighter-weight classes.

For American fans, they’ll be happy if Lara gets a shot at Wood’s WBA belt because they feel that the Mexican power puncher was given a bad deal with his rematch with Josh Warrington last year in September in Leeds.

That was a fight in which Lara suffered a bad cut over his left eye from a couple of accidental head clashes with Warrington.

The judges scored the fight a second record technical draw despite Lara landing the cleaner, harder shots in both rounds, which were one-sided unless you count Warrington’s head clashes as punches landed.

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