Leo Santa Cruz and Leigh Wood have found a way to move forward with their title consolidation fight.
A purse bid hearing scheduled for Friday morning was 'suspended' by the WBA after being informed that deal was reached by both parties. The development comes four months after the fight was first amount, with negotiations previously going nowhere but suddenly finding resolution at the eleventh hour.
"The World Boxing Association (WBA) auction between Leo Santa Cruz and Leigh Wood, due to be held on today, was suspended because both sides reached an agreement to finalize the fight," announced the sanctioning body through social media on Friday.
The significance of the announcement was the fact that purse bid hearing is suspended and not canceled outright.
Messages left for TGB Promotions, Matchroom Boxing and the WBA were not immediately returned as this goes to publish. However, BoxingScene.com has learned that early-to-mid November is the targeted time frame for the fight.
The two sides will have until September 1—twenty days from Friday's purse bid suspension—to provide to the WBA signed contract for the agreed upon date and location. Failure to do so will put the purse bid back in play.
The title consolidation fight was first ordered in April, going the full 30-day negotiation period without TGB Promotions (Santa Cruz) and Matchroom Boxing (Wood) able to reach terms. The WBA was prepared to order a purse bid, only to be met with an appeal submitted by Wood and Matchroom disputing the purse split.
Santa Cruz was entitled to 75 percent of the winning bid as the WBA 'Super' featherweight titlist. The remaining 25 percent was to go to Wood, who has held the WBA 'World' title since last August. Wood and Matchroom requested a 50/50 split, on the grounds that Nottingham's Wood has been the more active fighter and has emerged as the bigger draw.
Santa Cruz is a four-division and two-time WBA featherweight titlist but has not fought at the weight since February 2019. Three fights have since followed at junior lightweight, only one of which headlined a show—his sixth-round knockout loss to Gervonta Davis in their October 2020 Showtime Pay-Per-View headliner.
The WBA instructed Santa Cruz last fall to commit to either next defending his featherweight title or relinquish the crown, which would have left Wood as the sole WBA titlist in the division. The order came as part of the sanctioning body's forced title reduction campaign, to which Santa Cruz confirmed that he would move forward with such a fight after a planned non-title fight outside the weight.
Wood claimed the WBA 'World' title in a 12th round knockout of Xu Can last July in Brentwood, Essex. His first defense has since defined his growing legacy, overcoming an opening round knockdown and scorecard deficit to knock out Michael Conlan in the 12th round of their instant classic on March 12 in his Nottingham hometown.
Santa Cruz is coming off a ten-round decision win over Keenan Carbajal in February. His last fight at featherweight came in a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Richard Rivera, marking the fourth defense of the WBA 'Super' featherweight title he regained in a win over Carl Frampton in their January 2017 rematch.
Both sides since explored separate unification fights. Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) aimed to stage a Santa Cruz-Rey Vargas WBA/WBC featherweight title unification bout, while Wood was looking into a showdown with countryman and IBF titlist Josh Warrington. Such a fight would have required Santa Cruz being stripped of his title, as Wood's secondary belt is not recognized by the IBF or any other sanctioning body as a legitimate title.
The WBA rejected PBC's request to move forward with Santa Cruz-Vargas but did come back with a ruling that the original 75/25 split in Santa Cruz's favor would remain intact.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox