Report/Photos: Boxing Bob Newman
Day 3 of the 55th WBC convention in Baku, Azerbaijan saw the open session containing some brief presentations as well as one of the hot topics: mandatory defenses. The night was capped off with the annual talent show at the nearby Bulvar Hotel.
Representatives from WBC China made a brief presentation to state their case for restoring the relations with the WBC, as they became strained to the point of being severed earlier this year. WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman was optimistic with what he saw and heard and appointed a three-member committee to monitor the progress of the WBC China growth with the hopes of getting back on track.
Mauricio Sulaiman then drew the attention of the delegates to a short video focusing on the various Social Awareness programs in which the Council is involved: anti-bullying, alcohol abuse, domestic violence, texting while driving and any more.
The continuation of the Jose Sulaiman Boxer’s Fund in association with the Nevada Community Fund was discussed with a focus toward more fund raising options for retired, in need boxers.
The WBC will soon see it’s 2000th world title fight occur, with the count currently at 1987. A special commemorative belt will be presented to the winner of that as yet unknown WBC title fight.
Bob Yalen presented the latest data in the boxing glove certification program. Four grades have been designated to gloves being considered for use in WBC title fights: Premium, Conditional, Limited and Rejected. A pair of gloves can only be used over a period of 30 rounds. This is monitored by removable tabs inside the gloves, each bearing the number “6,” for six rounds of use. Once 30 rounds of use has been accrued, those gloves are decommissioned for further use. As of 2017, 54 different glove brands have been studied.
Luis Escalona proposed the WBC endorsement of a “dehydration detector,” for use by boxers in training. Much the size of a small glucose meter used by diabetics, the device would assess the urine of the user for levels of hydration and yield varying color displays. Escalona thinks this could aid in preventing injuries cause by fighters who aren’t properly hydrating leading up to a fight. He cautioned it relies on the integrity and proper use by the fighter.
The mandatories of each champion were then discussed over a period of several hours. Starting at Minimumweight and working their way up to the Heavyweight division:
Minimum: Champion Wanheng Menayothin is in a voluntary stage, scheduled for a defense on 11/25/17.
Light Fly: Champion Ken Shiro will defend against Pedro Guevara on 10/22/17, with the winner obligated to defend against former champ Ganigan Lopez.
Fly: Champion Daigo Higa is in an optional defense phase as the mandatory for the division was May 20, 2017.
Super Bantam: Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai will possibly have an optional defense before the end of the year, facing mandatory Juan Francisco Estrada if successful, thereafter.
Bantamweight: Champion Luis Nery is still awaiting a ruling on his positive test results stemming from his title-winning effort over long time champ Shinsuke Yamanaka. In the meantime, a final eliminator between #2 Emmanuel Rodriguez and #3 Petch Sor Chitpattana has been ordered. The active status of former champ and current #1 Yamanaka is still unclear.
Super Bantam: The last mandatory defense in this division was made in 2013. Former champ #1 Julio Ceja is the mandatory. A final eliminator between #2 Diego de la Hoya and #3 Hugo Ruiz to determine the second mandatory has been ordered.
Feather: Champion Gary Russell, Jr. made his mandatory when he defeated interim champion Oscar Escandon on May 20. His next mandatory is NABF champion Joseph Diaz.
Super Feather: Champion Miguel Berechelt is in negotiations with former champ and #1 rated Orlando Salido. If that fight comes to fruition, a final eliminator between #2 Francisco Vargas and #3 Jhonny Gonzalez will be ordered.
Light: WBC champ Mikey Garcia and WBC Diamond champion Jorge Linares have been ordered to unify and are in preliminary negotiations.
Super Light: The WBC will be contacting champion Terence Crawford’s promoter Top Rank this week to clarify Crawford’s intent- to remain champion at the weight or move up to welterweight. Depending on what the answer is, #1 Amir Imam and #3 Jose Carlos Ramirez will fight to be the first mandatory (or vacant title on the line) and #2 Regis Prograis will face #4 Viktor Postol for the next mandatory. Prograis and Postol were on hand and faced off for the press.
Welter: Keith Thurman has been recovering from injuries sustained in winning the WBC belt from Danny Garcia in March. #1 rated Shawn Porter is signed to fight Adrian Granados for the WBC Silver belt on November 4 at Barclays center. The last mandatory was in 2014.
Super Welter: Champion Jermell Charlo is defending against #1 rated Erickson Lubin on October 14. A semi-final eliminator between #4 Maciej Sulecki and #5 Jack Culcay is scheduled. The winner will be asked to face #3 Vanes Martirosyan in a final eliminator to be the next mandatory.
Middle: The WBC is ordering an immediate rematch between Gennady Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez based on the highest level of drama and the draw outcome in their fight of September 16th.
Super Middle: David Benavides just won the vacant title and would normally be in a position to make two consecutive mandatory defenses as per the WBC rules. But in as much as the WBC is in full support of the ongoing World Boxing Super Series (WBSS), in which Benavides is not participating, they will address the matter of mandatories after the conclusion of the series in May of 2018.
Light Heavy: Champion Adonis Stevenson will make his long-awaited mandatory with Eleider Alvarez in early December. A second mandatory will be filled if an ordered eliminator between #2 Oleksandr Gvozdyk and #3 Sullivan Barrera pans out.
Cruiser: With the WBSS going on in this division as well and WBC champ Mairis Briedis participating, the WBC will also wait for the conclusion of the series to address the mandatories in this division.
Heavyweight: The WBC is awaiting final conclusions on the positive test result of #2 Luis Ortiz for diuretics, hopefully within a week. In the meantime, a final eliminator between #1 Bermane Stiverne and #6 Dominic Breazeale is scheduled to take place on the undercard of Wilder and Ortiz…if it comes off on November 4.
It has become customary, almost legendary at every WBC convention to see and hear esteemed boxing agent (who is actually so much more) Don Majeski, eloquently rage against the boxing official assignment process in the United States for world title fights. This year in Baku was no different. Majeski started out talking about the judging in the Golovkin-Alvarez fight and how the state commissions in the U.S. have the final say in selecting the ring officials (three judges and a referee) for world title fights held in their jurisdiction. In most cases, the officials are American, which can be easily construed as not neutral as quite often one of the combatants in a world title fight in the U.S. is American. Majeski’s passion and content was overwhelmingly supported by the multinational congregation in attendance.
Majeski also railed about the disinterest in U.S. commissions allowing open scoring after the 4th & 8th rounds in WBC titles fights (a WBC policy which is allowed in most other countries). “Participants in baseball, football and basketball know who’s winning, but not in boxing,” opined Majeski. It may be suggested that in those sports, fans see the touchdowns, baskets and runs scored before their eyes, hence knowing the score. Fans of ice skating and gymnastics also don’t know the score until the judges render their score for the final competitor in those sports, ensuring similar drama.
The WBC talent show took place across town at the Boulevard Hotel. A full buffet dinner and drinks were provided and singing and dancing was performed by otherwise amateur members of the convention. Special awards were given out including for boxing photography to Carlos Baeza and to Fightnews.com’s own Gabriel Cordero for his selfless actions in Mexico City during the recent earthquake. The customary beer chugging by the men and wine gulping by the “ladies” was also a fan favorite. Let’s just say it’ll be an early morning for some tomorrow…