The World Boxing Council completed the third day of its 54th annual convention today at the Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida.
Opening the morning session, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman said, “The WBC has seen a decline in interest in amateur boxing around the world and the current practice by AIBA to threaten the integrity of amateur boxing. We have many persons in this room who have, one way or another, participated in making efforts to provide a platform for amateur boxers.
The problem here is that AIBA has the blessing of the International Olympic Committee, and then every country has to have an affiliation with AIBA in order to participate in international competitions and the Olympic Games. So they have that as their strength, and abuse the power and hurt many countries. We have many that suffered like Spain, we have Italy, we have Mexico, Uruguay, Canada. Everybody is very concerned because AIBA is going in the direction that does not care for the athlete and only cares for financial and commercial matters.
“The WBC, through the Continental Federations, has been working and been part of important tournaments, like the ones Sampson Lewkowicz put in Uruguay and Miguel de Pablos and his team have put in Spain. We have had many successful events, even in the United States – in California, Colorado, Illinois, and other places.
“This year, AIBA took away the headgear from the competition in the Olympic Games and we can see the slides where those cuts, with fighters who were winning fights, had to leave and were prohibited from participating in the medal rounds because of an elbow or a head clash or a punch.
“Carlos Balderas, who is turning pro, was part of the California WBC tournament, only to receive a phone call from Mike Martino of USA Boxing telling him that he was being expelled and that he could not participate in the Olympics. One week ago, we did a sparring event for women. This event was sparring with women doing charity work. We gave belts to the women who sparred with headgear. It was just sparring, there was no commission, only to have a phone call and a letter from Mike Martino threatening those girls and advising them that they had been expelled from USA Boxing.
“This practice is happening all over the world. They go and they threaten whoever participates as a boxer, manager, trainer, physician, ring official – whoever participates in anything other than what they do, and they are expelled.
“I’d like to open the floor to those who have participated in some way, and to have a report and come out with a committee that is going to be working for the year 2017.”
David Walker of England reported on an amateur program that was started in the U.K., and Sampson Lewkowicz (pictured left), related how he invested his own money to start a commission in his native Uruguay called Comision Uruguaya de Boxeo Amateur y Profesional, or CUBAP, and has presented 14 events there. President Sulaiman commented, “The model that Sampson established in Uruguay can be copied by people in other countries. He has been very successful and the WBC will continue to support him.”
Boxrec.com founder John Sheppard of England addressed the assembly and said, “I founded the Doncaster Amateur Boxing Club, and this year we were very fortunate – we had three national champions. But we are no longer the Doncaster Amateur Boxing Club. We are now the the Doncaster Boxing Academy, because AIBA said that we can’t use the word ‘amateur.’ The Amateur Boxing Association in England is now called England Boxing. Nobody is happy with this situation, but they’re holding the Sword of Damocles over our heads, which is entry into the Olympics. If you don’t get entry into the Olympics, the government will not give the sport funding.”
Promoter-matchmaker Boxu Potts of Trinidad and Tobago talked about the amateur situtation there, and WBC featherweight world champion Gary Russell Jr. (left) talked about his “bittersweet” Olympic experience, as well as his brother’s in the 2016 Olympic Games.
Ratings committee member Dean Louis of the United States (above left) received the WBC “Officer of the Year” award, and Luis Escalona of the United States (above right) won the “Working Horse Award” for his work on the Clean Boxing Program.
Much of the afternoon was spent on mandatory world title defenses.
Heavyweight: Champion Deontay Wilder (United States)
When Wilder was injured in his last fight on July 16, an interim title fight was ordered between No. 1 ranked Alexander Povetkin of Russia and No. 2 ranked Bermane Stiverne of Haiti/Canada. Povetkin and Stiverne are fighting on Saturday, and the WBC will review the mandatory status after the fight.
Cruiserweight: Champion Tony Bellew (Great Britain)
Bellew requested approval from the Board of Governors for a fight in the heavyweight division against David Haye, and the Board supports his request. Bellew will remain cruiserweight champion until he informs the WBC whether he will continue to fight as a heavyweight or return to the cruiserweight division. In the meantime, the WBC has ordered an interim title fight between No. 1 ranked Mairis Breidis of Latvia and No. 2 ranked Marco Huck of Germany. The free negotiation period starts today and if no agreement is reached, a purse offer will be held on January 14 or 15.
If Bellew decides to return to cruiserweight, the winner of the interim fight will be his mandatory challenger. If Bellew decides to continue at heavyweight, the winner of the interim fight will become world champion. Since the last mandatory defense took place in December, 2013, the WBC ordered a tournament between the top four available contenders to determine the next mandatory challenger.
Light Heavyweight: Champion Adonis Stevenson (Haiti/Canada)
A request from promoter Yvon Michel was approved by the Board of Governors: No. 1 ranked WBC Silver champion Eleider Alvarez of Colombia will fight No. 6 ranked Lucian Bute of Canada on February 24 in a Silver title defense and final eliminator to determine the mandatory challenger. Stevenson will make his mandatory defense against the winner on April 29.
Super middleweight: Champion Badou Jack (Gambia/Sweden)
Jack is scheduled for a title unification bout against IBF champion James Degale on January 14. The winner must make his mandatory defense against No. 1 ranked Callum Smith of Great Britain in his next fight. The free negotiation period begins on January 16.
Middleweight: Champion Gennady Golovkin (Kazakhstan)
Golovkin is in negotiations for a title unification bout against WBA champion Daniel Jacobs. The WBC ordered a four-man tournament between the highest available contenders to determine the mandatory challenger.
Super Welterweight: Champion Jermell Charlo (United States)
Charlo won a vacant title and according to WBC rules, must make two mandatory title defenses. Promoter Tom Brown confirmed that Charlo will make his first mandatory defense against No. 2 ranked Charles Hatley of the United States on either February 11 or 19. No. 5 ranked Erickson Lubin of the United States is scheduled to fight No. 8 ranked Jorge Cota of Mexico on March 4, and the WBC ordered a fight between No. 3 ranked Vanes Martirosyan of the United States and the highest available contender. The winners of those two fights will fight each other in a final eliminator to determine the second mandatory challenger. Promoter Art Pelullo informed the WBC that No. 1 ranked Demetrius Andrade of the United States is scheduled to challenge for the WBA title and will not participate in an eliminator.
Welterweight: Champion Danny Garcia (United States)
Garcia has a title unification fight against WBA champion Keith Thurman scheduled for March 4. No. 1 ranked mandatory challenger Amir Khan of Great Britain has asked the WBC for time to consider his mandatory status. If Khan gives up his mandatory status, the WBC asked promoter Carl Moretti to find out if No. 2 ranked Timothy Bradley Jr. of the United States is interested in participating in a final eliminator against the highest available contender. Moretti said that he will report Bradley’s decision to the WBC in one week.
Super Lightweight: Champion Terence Crawford (United States)
No. 1 ranked Antonio Orozco of the United States is scheduled to fight this Friday. If he wins, a final eliminator has been ordered between him and No. 3 ranked Amir Imam of the United States. Due to the long period of time since the last mandatory defense – September, 2013 – the WBC ordered a final eliminator between No. 2 ranked Viktor Postol of Ukraine and the highest available contender to determine the second mandatory challenger.
Lightweight: Champion Dejan Zlaticanin (Montenegro)
Zlaticanin is scheduled to fight No. 2 ranked Mikey Garcia of the United States on January 28. The winner of that fight must fight Diamond champion Jorge Linares of Venezuela in his next fight.
Super Featherweight: Champion Francisco Vargas (Mexico)
Vargas won the title in a mandatory challenge in November, 2015. After his voluntary defense on June 4, the WBC ordered six months of rest for him to allow his cuts to heal properly. He is scheduled to make a voluntary defense against No. 7 ranked Miguel Berchelt of Mexico on January 28, with the winner to make a mandatory defense next. On the same card, No. 1 ranked Takashi Miura of Japan will fight No. 2 ranked Miguel Roman of Mexico in a final eliminator to determine the mandatory challenger.
Featherweight: Champion Gary Russell Jr. (United States)
Promoter Sampson Lewkowicz confirmed that Russell will make his mandatory defense against interim champion Oscar Escandon of Colombia on February 11. The WBC ordered a final eliminator between No. 1 ranked Josh Warrington of Great Britain and No. 2 ranked Joseph Diaz Jr. of the United States to determine the next mandatory challenger.
Super Bantamweight: Champion Vacant
The WBC ordered a fight for the vacant title between No. 1 ranked Rey Vargas of Mexico and No. 2 ranked Gavin McDonnell of Great Britain. According to WBC rules, the winner of a vacant title must make two mandatory defenses. The WBC ordered a final eliminator between No. 3 ranked Hugo Ruiz of Mexico and No. 4 ranked Julio Ceja of Mexico to determine the first mandatory challenger. A second final eliminator between No. 5 ranked Anselmo Moreno of Panama and No. 6 ranked Nonito Donaire of the Philippines was ordered to determine the second mandatory challenger. The WBC is waiting for Donaire to confirm if he will participate.
Carl Frampton of Ireland and Leo Santa Cruz of the United States both requested that their fight on January 28 will be for the WBC Diamond Belt. The Board of Governors approved.
Bantamweight: Champion Shinsuke Yamanaka (Japan)
Yamanaka made a mandatory defense on September 16, 2016, and is now in a voluntary stage.
A final eliminator will be ordered in January between No. 1 ranked Suriyan Sor Rungvisai of Thailand and the highest available contender to determine the next mandatory challenger.
Super Flyweight: Champion Roman Gonzalez (Nicaragua)
Gonzalez has confirmed that he will have the rematch with No. 1 ranked Carlos Cuadras of Mexico in March. The winner must make a mandatory defense against No. 2 ranked Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand in his next fight.
Flyweight: Champion Vacant
No. 1 ranked Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai of Thailand will fight No. 2 ranked Juan Hernandez of Mexico for the vacant title in the first three months of 2017. No. 3 ranked Daigo Higa of Japan will be the first mandatory challenger. The WBC ordered No. 4 ranked Oscar Cantu of the United States to fight No. 5 ranked Muhammad Waseem of Pakistan in a final eliminator to determine the second mandatory challenger.
Light Flyweight: Champion Ganigan Lopez (Mexico)
Lopez made a mandatory title defense on July 2, 2016, and is now in a voluntary stage.
Minimumweight: Champion Wanheng Menayothin (Thailand)
Menayothin made a mandatory title defense on August 2, 2016, and is now in a voluntary stage.