By Boxing Bob Newman
The opening day of meetings of the 59th WBC convention got underway in the Castillo Room of the host hotel Intercontinental Presidente in Mexico City on Tuesday morning. After the mandatory roll call of the WBC board of governors to open the 59th annual convention, a very moving slide show commemorating those who the boxing world lost during the pandemic, was screened. A self-introduction of all attendees was then conducted.
Dr. Marina Sheppard of BoxRec.com gave a presentation depicting the effect of the pandemic on the sport of boxing. The level of world boxing activity as nearly returned to and matched pre-pandemic levels as of September 2021. Not only has the activity of boxing nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, but the number of new boxers in 2021 has nearly matched that of 2019. On the flip side, pro boxing suspensions have increased in 2021 over that of 2019. Dr. Sheppard feels this reflects an increased level of safety in the sport overall.
BoxRec is working to improve fighter safety features including photos, license information, predictor tools, medical requirements and the tracking of multi-sport participation as well as weight.
Scoring is also tracked on the site, a.k.a. “Judging the judges.” The site features options for round scoring, which can be used to train judges, as well as the public and also post event reporting and analytics.
Mauricio Sulaiman discussed openly with Dr. Sheppard, the topic of suspensions and understanding the minutia of suspensions- being suspended from contact training versus running or other such workouts, state-to-state reciprocity and so forth.
There were also requests for improved communication between boxing commissions and BoxRec, so that results can be quickly submitted and readily accessed. Promoter Sampson Lewkowitz also asked for improved amateur fighter records on the site.
Eunice Rendón and Marcos Arienti spoke on their programs to knockout crime and addictions through boxing and educational programs with prison inmates.
The ever contentious rankings meetings convened after a short morning break, at 11:45 a.m.
Rankings and mandatory defenses always draw a Who’s Who of promoters and managers, all lobbying for their respective fighters.
The heavyweight division started things off with a request to elevate #19 Otto Wallin to a top-15 position, based on his showing against Tyson Fury (Wallin’s only loss). After some discussion, Wallin was elevated to #16.
The new Bridgerweight champion Oscar Rivas was on hand to receive a recognition. #7 Jerry Forrest was removed due to not being enrolled in the WBC Clean Boxing Program. This allowed fighters from #8 – #16 to move up, where Elvis Garcia benefited from the move as his representation lobbied to get him into the top 15.
Cruiserweight had a request to move recent last second Bridgerweight title participant Ryan Rozicki from his current #15 to a higher position, based on his valiant effort against a bigger man. With support from WBC board members Duane Ford, Mauro Betti and his championship foe Oscar Rivas, Rozicki was elevated to #10.
Light Heavyweight had no movement.
Super Middleweight had no movement.
Middleweight had no movement.
Super Welterweight saw a request to have former unified champ Jeison Rosario removed from the ratings altogether (he’s currently #16), as he can no longer make the super welter limit.
Welterweight saw no movement.
Super Lightweight saw no movement.
Lightweight saw no movement.
Super Featherweight saw #2 Featherweight Eduardo Ramirez move to #6 in the Super Featherweight division.
Featherweight saw no movement.
Super Bantamweight saw Kevin Gonzalez move from #20 to #19.
Bantamweight saw Emanuel Rodriguez enter back into the ratings at #6.
Super Flyweight saw no movement.
Flyweight saw no movement.
Light Flyweight saw no movement.
Strawweight saw no movement.
Representatives of Probellum (Richard Schaeffer), 360 & GGG (Tom Loeffler), Top Rank (Carl Moretti), Sampson Boxing (Sampson Lewkowitz), Zanfer Promotions (Guillermo Brito) and a host of others lobbied for their charges.
Former WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk was on hand to accept a recognition for his respectful behavior after his ill-fated title win over long time champion Adonis Stevenson. Stevenson suffered a brain injury in that fight and never fought again. All the while, Gvozdyk refrained from celebrating his victory in an overt manner. Gvozdyk was honored with an award presented by NABF president Duane Ford (Gvozdyk had been an NABF champion before conquering the WBC title). For his part, Gvozdyk wished Stevenson continued good health and it was announced the he has retired himself from boxing and is making his way in the business world.
WBC Cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu was recognized for his successful defenses as well as bringing boxing back at a high level in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, some 47 years after the epic Rumble in the Jungle between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali, when the country was then known as Zaïre.
The mandatory defenses segment then commenced after lunch.
Heavyweight Dillian Whyte is the mandatory, but is in the middle of legal action with the WBC, so there is no action at this moment on that front.
Bridgerweight mandatory is Evgeny Romanov. Being that Oscar Rivas won a vacant title, WBC rules dictate that the winner of a vacant title inherits two mandatories. This will be the case but the second mandatory is yet to be determined.
Cruiserweight is Thabiso Mchunu.
Light Heavyweight mandatory is Marcus Browne.
Super Middleweight- David Benavides was to fight an eliminator for the mandatory position against Jose Uzcategui, but Uzcategui fell out and Kyrone Davis stepped in as a late sub.
Middleweight- The WBC has ordered a final eliminator between Jaime Munguia and Sergey Derevyanchenko.
Super Welterweight- Jermell Charlo is WBC/WBC/IBF champion with several mandatories. Right now Erickson Lubin is ranked #1. #4 Sebastian Fundora and #2 Sergio Garcia are already scheduled to fight. Sampson Lewkowitz has both Fundora and Garcia and wants that winner to fight Lubin for the final mandatory. The motion passed for that resolution.
Welterweight- Errol Spence has been medically cleared after suffering a detached retina. #9 Thulani Mbenge will face Edward Skavinskiy for the vacant silver title. That winner must face Alexander Besputin for the final mandatory.
Super Lightweight- Jose Zepeda is the mandatory in the WBC. However Josh Taylor is undisputed challenger and will make his WBO mandatory first against Jack Catterall.
Lightweight- Teofimo Lopez is the WBC Franchise champion and will defend against George Kambosos, Jr. on November 27th. Devin Haney will defend his WBC title against Joseph Diaz December 4th. Zaur Abdullaev vs Jorge Linares will fight February 26th.
Super Featherweight- Miguel Berchelt may be moving up in weight. Mauricio Sulaiman proposed a tournament between recent unlucky challenger Robson Conceição who has an official complaint stemming from his September title loss to Oscar Valdez, O’Shaquie Foster and Muhammadkhuja Yakubov.
Featherweight- Gary Russell, Jr. will make mandatory against Mark Magsayo. The winner will face Rey Vargas.
Super Bantamweight- Champion Brandon Figueroa will face WBO champion Stephen Fulton in a unification with the winner to face Daniel Roman.
Bantamweight- Nonito Donaire will fight Reymart Gaballo in a mandatory on December 11.
Super Flyweight- Juan Francisco Estrada vs Roman Gonzalez for Franchise title. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs Carlos Cuadras for the vacant title. The WBC wants the two winners to fight each other.
Flyweight- Julio Cesar Martinez will fight interim champion McWilliams Arroyo on Friday, November 20th
Light Flyweight- Masamichi Yabuki will fight a direct rematch with Kenshiro Teraji.
Strawweight Panya Pradabsri will fight a rematch with Wanheng Menayothin, who was 54-0 before losing his title in the upset.