Now I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, but at the moment it seems as though the answer is yes. I say that very gently.
Anyone who has read my work will know that I have had issues with the WBA for years — the organization that recently had a deceased boxer in its rankingsfor several months.
My main issue has been that the WBA crowns up to four titleholders in the same weight class — super, regular, unified and interim — seemingly only for the sake of generating more sanction fees. Some fighters and promoters are all too happy to go along with it too.
It’s enough to drive me, and others, crazy because whatever short-term gain there might be for the few individuals who benefit from all the extra belts, I’ve never thought it was worth the long-term damage to whatever credibility was left in the sport. It just smacked of stupidity to have more than one titleholder in the same organization in the same division.
Over the years, I have had many arguments with WBA president Gilberto Mendoza Jr., whom I like personally, even if we probably couldn’t agree that grass is green and the sky is blue.
But maybe, just maybe, we are entering a new era with the WBA. I said maybe, but in the spirit of being a good sport, I will give Mendoza — who was recently promoted to WBA president because his father, longtime president Gilberto Mendoza Sr., is terminally ill and stepped down — the benefit of the doubt and say it looks as though we are.
The elimination of multiple world titles in the same division will not happen overnight. I get that but Mendoza has told me personally that he is going to reduce the number of titles. I will take him at his word until proven otherwise.
“I am working to reduce the titles,” Mendoza told me on Tuesday. “At first some promoters [might] complain. I just tell them it is my final decision. They would have to live with it.”
So far, so good. When the new WBA ratings came out this week, Floyd Mayweather, the WBA’s “super champion” at junior middleweight and welterweight, had finally been removed from the list of titleholders and his belts vacated. It’s about time, considering he retired more than four months ago.
With Mayweather out of the title picture — although he can have a crack at either belt right away should he return, and I have no problem with that — that means Keith Thurman is the organization’s top welterweight titlist and Erislandy Lara is the top junior middleweight titleholder.
There are still interim titleholders in both divisions (Jack Culcay at 154 and David Avanesyan at147), but Mendoza told me Thurman and Lara will not be “elevated” to “super champion” status and the interim titleholders will not be reclassified as “regular” titleholders.
Further, Mendoza said he would eventually order Thurman and Lara to fight the interim titleholders in mandatory defenses, which would reduce the number of titleholders in those two weight classes to one each. Amazing.
Mendoza also laid out plans to get down to one titleholder in the heavyweight division, in which the WBA currently recognizes three.
Tyson Fury is the “super champion” (and the lineal champ) based on his Nov. 28 upset of Wladimir Klitschko, Ruslan Chagaev is the “regular” titleholder and big puncher Luis Ortiz is the interim titlist.
Chagaev is already scheduled to face Lucas Browne in a defense on March 5. The winner must next face Fres Oquendo, as ordered by the outcome of Oquendo’s lawsuit in United States federal court. That is one side of the so-called bracket.
On the other side, Fury and Klitschko will meet again in the late spring or summer.
“When Klitschko and Fury met the first time, there was a contract approved by the WBA that had a rematch clause that we intend to respect,” Mendoza said.
Meanwhile, Ortiz must face Alexander Ustinov on or before June 19. While Ortiz is likely to fight on HBO against somebody else on March 5, Ustinov would come next. Mendoza said the Fury-Klitschko II winner will have to fight the Ortiz-Ustinov winner, which would get rid of the interim title.
Whoever emerges from Fury/Klitschko/Ortiz/Ustinov will be mandated to face whoever emerges from the Chagaev/Browne/Oquendo bouts, thus eliminating yet another belt.
“The winners of the two groups will fight for the world championship,” Mendoza said. “And the WBA will have only one champion, as everybody expects.”
Of course, if a unification fight — say, Fury versus Deontay Wilder — presented itself I would be fine with a delay in the WBA’s road to one belt. But the plan is in place and I ask: What was so hard about that?
Floyd Mayweather Jr showed up and showed out at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sat night. He dominated future hall of famer Manny Pacquiao to win a decisive unanimous decision improving to 48-0. Two judges scoring it 116-112 and Dave Moretti scoring it 118-110 for Money. Pacquiao (57-6-2) 38KOs, had no answer for the mastery that was on display in that squared circle.
Mayweather scored early with two flush right hands and left jabs that made it hard for the Flipino slugger to find the perfect range to land his big shots. He was consistently hit with right hands and short left hooks. Pacquiao had success in the fourth round when he landed a straight left that momentarily pushed Floyd back. Manny let off a mound of flurries with his new found confidence but Mayweather, being the defensive genius that he is, was able to cover and avoid most of Manny’s onslaught. By the fifth round Mayweather returned to form and ducked, moved, threw solid punches to Manny’s face and stayed away from any serious harm.
The sweet science was on pure display in that sold out Arena. The volume of punches that Manny needed to give him any chance at a victory were non existent as he landed only 81 of his total punches thrown through twelve rounds. Fighting a defensive genius like Floyd Mayweather is a dose of cold medicine for anyone. It took years of on and off again negations to finally get the two legends on opposite sides of the ring. Mayweather knew what it took to win a fight of this magnitude and he absolutely delivered. As the seconds began to tick away, Mayweather danced and even raised his hand in victory as he knew his performance was once again “Pure Money”. When the history books are written he said “it was all well worth the wait”.
As per ESPN Floyd Mayweather has stated he will relinquish his belts on Monday and his next and final fight will be a 12 round non title fight scheduled to take place in September. After solidifying a legacy that I feel was cemented years ago, he truly deserves to fight whomever he chooses to for his 49th fight. He has proven himself time and time again that he can adjust to any style that is put in front of him, and he has accomplished all of this without taking any unnecessary punishment throughout his 19 year career. When it’s all said and done Floyd Mayweather Jr may truly go down in boxing history as “The Best Ever”