Leigh Wood will make the first defense of the WBA belt he surprisingly won five months ago on March 12 in his hometown.

Matchroom Boxing and DAZN jointly announced Friday that Wood’s mandatory defense of the WBA world featherweight title against Michael Conlan will take place at Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, England. The 33-year-old Wood will defend the WBA’s secondary featherweight title against Northern Ireland’s Conlan, the WBA’s number one contender in the 126-pound division.

Leo Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19 KOs) remains the WBA’s “super” champion in the featherweight division, despite that he hasn’t competed at the 126-pound limit in nearly three years.

Wood (25-2, 15 KOs) upset China’s Can Xu (18-3, 3 KOs), who was a 4-1 favorite, by 12th-round technical knockout July 31 on the grounds of Matchroom’s headquarters in Brentwood, England. The new champion was ahead on all three scorecards – 107-102, 107-102 and 106-103 – when he dropped and stopped Xu with just 17 seconds to go in the final round.

Wood joined former IBF/WBA/WBC super middleweight champ Carl Froch as boxing’s only world champions from Nottingham. Just two fights earlier, Wood lost a 10-round majority decision to countryman James Dickens (then 28-3) in February 2020 at York Hall in London.

The 30-year-old Conlan (16-0, 8 KOs) produced perhaps his most impressive victory in his most recent appearance.

The 2016 Olympian out-boxed TJ Doheny in that 12-round fight for the WBA interim featherweight title August 6 at Falls Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Conlan’s hometown. Conlan dropped Doheny (22-3, 16 KOs) with a body shot in the fifth round and beat the Irish southpaw by big margins on all three scorecards – 119-108, 116-111 and 116-111.

The WBA since has eliminated all of its interim championships, but Conlan had already secured his title shot.

Conlan previously attempted to campaign in the junior featherweight division. He moved back up to the featherweight limit of 126 pounds, however, after only one bout as a 122-pound contender.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.