WBC orders mandatory fights for first quarter of 2018; some interesting bouts coming up

Just three days into the new year, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has released his sanctioning body’s first quarter report on mandatory status for all of its titles: from heavyweight on the way down to strawweight.

Should all these mandated bouts take place it’s likely fight fans will be quite happy:

Heavyweight: Titleholder Deontay Wilder made a successful, and emphatic, mandatory of his title last November when he crushed Bermane Stiverne in just one round. Wilder is now in his voluntary period but still targets a showdown with fellow heavyweight titleholder Anthony Joshua. The WBC says they fully support a unification. In the meantime, Wilder is likely to face Cuban dangerman Luis Ortiz, while Joshua is close to fighting Joseph Parker; both bots targeted for March.

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Cruiserweight: Champion Maris Briedis will be unifying titles with Oleksandr Usyk as part of the World Boxing Super Series. The WBC will take another look at the mandatory situation for this division following the WBSS’ conclusion in May.

Light Heavyweight: Titleholder Adonis Stevenson, who hasn’t made a mandatory title defense in forever, is going to take on Badou Jack. Meanwhile, mandatory challenger Eleider Alvarez will fight Oleksandr Gvozdyk for an interim title. The winner of Stevenson-Jack and Alvarez-Gvozdyk must face off immediately.

Super Middleweight: Titleholder David Benevidez is scheduled to take on Ronald Gavril next month. Then, diamond champion Callum Smith will continue his participation in the WBSS tournament. The WBC will take a look at the mandatory status for the belt at the end of the tourney.

Middleweight: Champion Gennady Golovkin has been ordered to rematch Canelo Alvarez, a fight he surely wants. Negotiations for that rematch appear to be a bit slow-going, so the WBC has ordered mandatory challenger Jermall Charlo to face Hugo Centeno for an interim title.

Junior Middleweight: Titleholder Jermell Charlo has made two mandatory defenses of the title. So in the meanwhile the WBC has ordered a final eliminator bout between Vanes Martyrosian and Maciej Sulecki.

Welterweight: Titleholder Keith Thurman (who also hold the WBA title), who has been out with an elbow injury, will be returning in a voluntary title defense. Shawn Porter remains his mandatory challenger and the winner of Danny Garcia vs. Brandon Rios will fill the second mandatory challenger slot — since Thurman has been so inactive.

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Junior Welterweight: With Terence Crawford moving up a division, the WBC has ordered Amir Imam vs. Juan Carlos Ramirez and Regis Prograis vs Viktor Postol. The winner of those fight must face each other to fill the vacant belt.

Lightweight: Mikey Garcia has been granted special permission to fight over the lightweight limit next month in a ‘WBC special event.’ Diamond champion, Jorge Linares, will defend his strap this month. Both Linares and Garcia are expected to face one another right afterwards (assuming both win of course).

Junior Lightweight: Champion Miguel Berchelt will take on Cristian Mijarez next month and then make a mandatory title defense. The WBC is currently voting to put Miguel Roman in it’s mandatory challenger position.

Featherweight: Champion Gary Russell Jr. will make a voluntary defense next month, and will then need to make a mandatory title defense against JoJo Diaz.

Junior Featherweight: Titleholder Rey Vargas, who just defended his title last month, will be making a voluntary title defense and will then need to make a mandatory title defense.

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Bantamweight: Champion Luis Nery has been ordered to rematch Shinsuke Yamanaka in March.

Junior Bantamweight: Titleholder Srisaket Sor Rungvisai will be making a mandatory title defense against Juan Estrada on HBO’s upcoming ‘Superfly 2’ card.

Flyweight: Champion Daigo Higa will be making a voluntary defense against Moises Fuentes. Meanwhile, the WBC will order a final eliminator match to determine the next mandatory challenger to Higa’s belt.

Junior Flyweight: Champion Ken Shiro defended his title just a few days ago in Japan. He’ll have to now fight Ganigan Lopez in a mandatory rematch ordered by the sanctioning body.

Strawweight: Titleholder Menayothin will be making a mandatory title defense against Panama’s Leroy Estrada in his next outing.