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Leo Santa Cruz finally vacates title, Leigh Wood now sole WBA featherweight champion

Leo Santa Cruz went nearly 46 months without a single title defense

Leo Santa Cruz v Miguel Flores Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images
Patrick Stumberg is a freelance writer for SB Nation, first joining the network in 2011 before linking up with Bad Left Hook in 2015.

One of boxing’s dumbest ongoing sagas is finally over. The WBA announced today that Leo Santa Cruz has vacated his “super” featherweight title ahead of a scheduled purse bid with “world” champion Leigh Wood, who is now their sole titlist at 126 pounds.

Santa Cruz (38-2-1, 19 KO) took the belt from Abner Mares in 2015, lost it to Carl Framtpon two fights later, got it back in their rematch, and made three more defenses before abandoning the division in 2019. He was supposed to return to 126 in February, but his fight with Keenan Carbajal took place at 130 for unexplained reasons.

Then came negotiations with Wood, then Santa Cruz went to try and fight WBC champ Rey Vargas while Wood fought Mauricio Lara, then both those fights fell through, and now here we are.

It’s a damp fart of an ending for Santa Cruz’s reign, which feels appropriate. He used to be ultra-active and fan-friendly, but has slowly devolved into a parody of himself while GIlberto Mendoza and co. fell over themselves to let him keep the title hostage. The last 10 months have been especially egregious; he could have acknowledged that he was done with 126 after Carbajal, but instead elected to waste everybody’s time until the last possible instant.

Oh, well. At least it’s behind us.

As for Wood, Eddie Hearn says they’re looking to reschedule the Lara fight, which I am here for. Let’s get this show back on the road.

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