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Leo Santa Cruz to return in December at featherweight, then face Wood-Conlan winner

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Santa Cruz last defended his WBA title in February 2019

Leo Santa Cruz v Miguel Flores Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

The WBA’s ongoing reformation efforts are starting to pick up steam. The sanctioning body announced yesterday that it was axing all of its interim titles and beginning to order the former titlists to fight their respective divisions’ “world” champions. ESPN KnockOut’s Salvador Rodriguez has revealed that as a result, world featherweight champ Leigh Wood must face previous interim champion Michael Conlan, with the winner next in line to face “super” champion Leo Santa Cruz. “El Terremoto,” meanwhile, will return to action in December against a to-be-announced featherweight.

Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19 KO) hasn’t fought at 126 since a February 2019 decision over Rafael Rivera. He subsequently moved up to 130, was giftwrapped the “super” title against an unimpressive career featherweight Miguel Flores, then got blasted into oblivion by Gervonta Davis last October.

The WBA’s insistence on letting him keep the featherweight belt despite two years without a defense led to one of the year’s weirder sagas, wherein IBF champ Josh Warrington had to vacate his title to fight world champ Xu Can. Then that fell through, Warrington got battered by Mauricio Lara, and Xu fell to Wood (25-2, 15 KO) in July.

As far as the Conlan (16-0, 8 KO) fight, I wouldn’t put too much stock in it happening. He’s already got a title shot locked up at 122 pounds, where he’s Stephen Fulton’s #1 contender, and there’s some promotional issues between Top Rank’s Conlan and Matchroom’s Wood.