Representatives for Leigh Wood and Michael Conlan have been granted more time to secure a deal for their ordered fight.
A request to extend negotiations for the WBA “World” featherweight title fight was accepted by the sanctioning body’s Championship Committee, BoxingScene.com confirmed Wednesday with WBA president Gilberto Jesus Mendoza. The ruling comes after the originally imposed September 27 deadline arrived without a deal in place and seemingly on the verge of a purse bid hearing being called.
Instead, the two sides will attempt to make the most of the additional time allotted to determine a date and location for the intriguing featherweight matchup.
Wood is represented by Matchroom Boxing, while Conlan Boxing founder and head Jamie Conlan represents younger brother Michael in such talks.
Should the extension still not lead to terms being reached, a purse bid hearing will be ordered by the WBA. The winning bid will be split 55/45 in favor of England’s Wood, who is due to make the first defense of the WBA “World” featherweight title he acquired less than two months ago.
Belfast’s Conlan will be entitled to the remaining 45% percent as the mandatory challenger, the same amount afforded WBA interim titlists prior to the belt being removed from circulation on August 25, three days before Wood-Conlan was ordered.
Wood (25-2, 15KOs) claimed the belt in a dramatic 12th round stoppage of China’s Xu Can to win the belt July 31 at the outdoor makeshift venue on the property of Matchroom Boxing headquarters in Brentwood, Essex, England. Promoter Eddie Hearn angled for a rematch, only for the WBA to intervene with the ordered mandatory title fight which disallows Wood and Conlan to entertain any other fight during such period.
The title win for Wood came six days prior to Conlan (16-0, 8KOs) claiming the WBA “interim” featherweight belt in an entertaining 12-round, unanimous decision win over former WBA junior featherweight titlist TJ Doheny.
The fight took place August 6 at Falls Park in Conlan’s hometown, giving him an interim title reign of just 19 days before the WBA ruled to eliminate all such titles. Previous claimants such as Conlan—a two-time Olympian and 2012 Olympic Bronze medalist for Ireland—were inserted as mandatory challengers where applicable, though afforded the same benefits that would have come with interim title status in such ordered fights.
The Wood-Conlan winner will become the mandatory challenger to four-division and reigning WBA "Super" featherweight titlist Leo Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19KOs), who has not fought at the weight since a February 2019 win over late substitute Rafael Rivera. Santa Cruz has spent his last two fights at junior lightweight, most recently in a sixth-round knockout loss to Gervonta Davis last Halloween.
In the event that 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.
The sanctioning body has remained on that mission ever since the controversial August 7 interim welterweight title fight where Venezuela's Gabriel Maestre (4-0, 3KOs) claimed a highly questionable split decision win over Mykal Fox (22-3, 5KOs) in a nationally televised bout. Several disturbing matters came of the night, drawing the ire of the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) who called upon the WBA to clean up its act beginning with the reduction in its number of recognized titlists.
The Panama City-headquartered sanctioning body has complied, with several title consolidation fights immediately ordered along with the removal of interim titles and clarity offered on its WBA “Gold” title as just a regional belt. The mission is complete in five weight divisions, with a sixth to come once Brandon Figueroa (22-0-1, 17KOs) is stripped of his secondary WBA “World” junior featherweight title upon entering the ring for his November 27 WBC/WBO title unification bout with Stephen Fulton.
Six more current bouts have been ordered, either as mandatory defenses or title consolidation bouts. Deals have been reached on at least three, with hopes that Wood-Conlan can join that list without the matter being subject to a purse bid hearing.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox