WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney and Max Kellerman of ESPN went at it this week in arguing whether Teofimo Lopez is the undisputed lightweight champion or not.
The 23-year-old Teofimo (16-0, 12 KOs) recently defeated the perceived #1 fighter in the 135-pound division in Vasily Lomachenko on October 17th to win the WBA, WBC Franchise, and WBO lightweight titles.
Teofimo had the IBF title going into the match against Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs), and he now holds all four titles in the lightweight division.
Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) maintains that he holds the WBC belt, which is a title that can be won and lost, and that’s the historic strap.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has already gone on record to say that Teofimo Lopez is the undisputed lightweight champion.
Teofimo Lopez viewed as the WBC champion
It doesn’t matter that Lopez doesn’t hold the ‘regular’ WBC 135-lb title. He’s still viewed as having the uppermost WBC belt due to his win over Lomachenko.
Unfortunately for Haney, the World Boxing Council has lowered the value of their regular WBC belt by creating the Franchise title.
Sadly, the WBC lightweight title that Haney holds has been devalued and minimized in worth because it’s a secondary strap and no longer the prestigious one that it had been.
“To me, because Teofimo beat Lomachenko, who had collected all the belts, Teofimo is the lightweight champion of the world, whether you like it or not.
“How do you feel about that?” said Max Kellerman of ESPN in letting Haney know he views Teofimo as the undisputed champion at 135.
Kellerman is basically letting Haney know that Teofimo IS the undisputed champion at 135, and he’s going to have to live with that. It’s no use for Haney to be getting all worked up about it because there’s nothing he can change.
Haney can insist all he wants that Teofimo isn’t the undisputed lightweight champion, but it’s already been done. Teofimo beat Lomachenko, and the fans see him as the #1 fighter at 135, not Haney, who was given his WBC title through email.
Devin Haney reacts
“He didn’t collect all the belts. I still have the WBC title, and I’m the WBC world champion,” said Haney about Teofimo Lopez.
“He [Teofimo] collected a Franchise title, not a belt. He’s not the undisputed champion. I am the WBC champion, so Teofimo does not have all the belts.”
If Haney is bent out of shape over Teofimo being viewed as the undisputed champion, he can vacate his WBC title and go after the IBF, WBA, or WBO belts.
Haney needs to get busy with his career and fight the best possible guys. There are a lot of good fights out there at 135 that are available to him. If Haney is shutout of the process due to his lack of popularity, he needs to view that as a signal that he should quit the 135-lb weight class and move up to 140 to expand his horizons.
Teofimo has already said that he’ll give Devin a shot after taking care of his IBF mandatory George Kambosos Jr in the first half of 2021. If Haney’s promoter Eddie Hearn can negotiate the fight with Teofimo, the two will meet up. At that point, Haney can try and get his hands on the arguably more prestigious WBC Franchise title.
WBC president Sulaiman would be doing the boxing world a good service if he retired the Franchise title and went back to just having the regular WBC belt. The Franchise title hasn’t helped boxing by making bigger fights.
What’s happened has been the reverse. It’s allowed fighters like Canelo Alvarez to circumvent his mandatory Jermall Charlo to take easier and less interesting fights against guys like Daniel Jacobs. The creation of the Franchise title has made it easy for the popular champions to duck difficult fighters, which has hurt the sport.