Hearn Feels WBA Should Strip Leo Santa Cruz, Elevate Leigh Wood

Boxing Scene

Eddie Hearn has called on the WBA to strip Leo Santa Cruz if the WBA “super” featherweight title to allow Leigh Wood to become their premier champion. 

Wood won the WBA “regular” title when he stopped Xu Can in the final round at Fight Camp on Saturday. 

Santa Cruz, 32, has held the “super” title since 2017, when he regained it from Carl Frampton. But he has not boxed in the division since 2019 having won and lost a “super” title at super-featherweight. With the Mexican still the WBA’s main champion, it makes it more difficult to make a unification fight for Wood.  

“They need to do is get Leo Santa Cruz out of the division and elevate him (Wood), because Santa Cruz hasn’t boxed in coming up to three years at featherweight,” Hearn said. “They keep saying he is going to come back down, but I don’t believe them.” 

Wood was offered the fight at six weeks’ notice as a favor by Hearn to Golden Boy, the promoter that is also contracted to DAZN in the United States. Can had not boxed since 2019 and with no available show to put him on, they put out an appeal to Hearn. 

“Golden Boy needed to get Xu Can out and they said ‘can we do it on one of your shows?’” Hearn said. “I said we can do it in the UK and I will provide the opponent. I said you can have Jordan Gill or Leigh Wood and they chose Leigh Wood = it was the worst decision they ever made. 

“I hoped Leigh would win the fight but deep down I thought that Can Xu was a very strong favourite. But he just didn’t know how to deal with him.  

“Every time Leigh switched to southpaw, he was getting pinged everywhere. It was probably a little bit of the trickery of Leigh Wood, a little bit of inactivity, but Leigh Wood schooled him.” 

There has been talk about Wood looking to fight the winner of next weekend’s Jazza Dickens-Kid Galahad fight for the vacant IBF title, or Josh Warrington, if he wins he rematch with Mauricio Lara on September 4. But a block to that could be the rematch clause in Wood’s contract with Can. 

“There is a rematch clause.” Hearn said. “I guess he will want it, but I just can’t see him winning that fight.  

“There are some big domestic fights for him. If Jazza Dickens wins next week, maybe that is a good rematch, it was a good fight last time. The winner of Warrington-Lara maybe. And he has talked about a fight with Emanuel Navarette (the WBO champion). It’s a good division right now.” 

Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 – covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.

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