WBC Convention Mandates Bouts
Each year one of the most significant activities at the annual WBC convention is when promoters and managers from around the world gather to fight it out for their boxer’s place in the divisional rankings and the setting of mandatory title bouts and eliminators in every weight class.
That session about mandatory fights took place on Wednesday at the WBC’s 60th annual convention at a resort in Acapulco, Mexico.
Here is a look at what the WBC outlined for each division but keep this in mind: This is what the WBC wants to happen. But things can and will change and some fighters might elect to go in another direction.
Champion Tyson Fury is an optional period and is scheduled to defend against Dereck Chisora in their third meeting on Dec. 3, but former titleholders Andy Ruiz Jr. and Deontay Wilder, who each won recent semifinal title eliminators, were, as expected, ordered to meet in a final eliminator. The winner would become the mandatory challenger.
Oscar Rivas was due to make his first defense in his home country of Colombia against Lukasz Rozanski until issues with the local promoter saw the fight postponed multiple times and eventually canceled. The WBC said Rivas now will make the defense against Rozanski on a date to be determined in Rozanski’s home country of Poland. Because Rivas won the inaugural (and therefore vacant) title he is required to make two mandatory defenses. The second one would come against the winner of an eliminator ordered between Alen Babic and former cruiserweight titleholder Ryad Merhy.
Ilunga Makabu is in an option period and then would have to make a mandatory defense against Noel Mikaelyan. Also, Thabiso Mchunu and former super middleweight and light heavyweight titlist Badou Jack were ordered to meet in a final eliminator that would make the winner the mandatory challenger. Of note, Makabu has already defeated Mchunu twice, including in his most recent fight via split decision in January.
Three-belt unified champion Artur Beterbiev is due to make a WBO mandatory defense against Anthony Yarde in January. The WBC that Beterbiev will be required to make a WBC mandatory after that bout.
Interim titlist David Benavidez and Caleb Plant will meet in March in a fight they recently announced, although without an exact date or site. The winner will become the WBC mandatory challenger for undisputed champion Canelo Alvarez, who is sidelined after recent left wrist surgery.
Jermall Charlo has been idle since June 2021, in part to due injury. Carlos Adames knocked out Juan Macias Montiel in the third round on Oct. 8 to win the vacant interim title. His team asked to be installed as Charlo’s mandatory challenger. The WBC did not rule on the division and said it would assess the situation.
Interim titlist Sebastian Fundora and former titlist Tony Harrison were ordered to meet in a final elimination bout in a fight both sides said they would work out. The winner would be the mandatory challenger for the winner of the January fight between undisputed champion Jermell Charlo and Tim Tszyu. Also, the Nov. 26 bout between Charles Conwell and Juan Carlos Abreu, was approved as a semifinal title eliminator.
With a negotiations for a long-awaited fight for the undisputed title between three-belt titlist Errol Spence Jr. and WBO titleholder Terence Crawford imploding, the WBC ordered Spence to face mandatory challenger and former titleholder Keith Thurman, although Spence also has a due WBA mandatory with Eimantas Stanionis.
Jose Zepeda and former titleholder Regis Prograis will meet on Nov. 26 for the vacant title that was relinquished by Josh Taylor. The winner of the fight will owe former unified titlist Jose Ramirez a mandatory defense next. The Zepeda-Prograis winner will also have to make a second mandatory because they are fighting for a vacant title.
Undisputed champion Devin Haney was ordered to face mandatory challenger and former unified titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko, which is a fight both fighters have said they want and the fight their mutual promoter, Top Rank, plans to make for the spring. Also, former unified junior lightweight titlist Shakur Stevenson and Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz were ordered to meet in a final eliminator to become the mandatory challenger. (This fight seems quite unlikely to take place given they’re with different promoters and on different broadcasters being ordered.)
WBC featherweight titlist Rey Vargas is moving up in weight and has a deal in place to face mandatory challenger O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant crown in early 2023. The winner will be required to meet mandatory challenger Eduardo “Rocky” Hernandez.
Titleholder Vargas, who is moving up to junior lightweight to challenge for the vacant title, will have 10 days following that fight to decide which division he will fight in. He could return to featherweight, which seems unlikely, and continue to hold the title or he will vacate and stay at junior lightweight. WBC junior featherweight titlist Stephen Fulton will move up to featherweight and has been approved to fight for the vacant interim title while the Vargas situation is playing out.
A final elimination fight was ordered between former titlist Luis Nery and Azat Hovhannisyan.
Three-belt champion Naoya Inoue meets WBO titlist Paul Butler for the undisputed title on Dec. 13. Inoue has already said he will move up in weight after the fight. The WBC would order former titlist Nonito Donaire and Jason Moloney to fight for the vacant title once that happens. Donaire and Moloney were both at the convention and posed for photos in a face-off.
Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez are set to meet on Dec. 3 and the fight was recently sanctioned to be for the vacant title following Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez vacating in order to move down in weight. Andrew Moloney and Pedro Guevara were ordered to meet in a final elimination fight to become the mandatory challenger for the Estrada-Gonzalez III winner.
Julio Cesar Martinez was due to defend against interim titlist McWilliams Arroyo in a mandatory rematch on Dec. 3, but Arroyo dropped out this week due to a neck/back injury. The WBC noted that it was the sixth time the fight has been postponed. It was announced that Martinez will instead have an optional defense against replacement opponent Angel Ayala.
Kenshiro Teraji unified the WBC and WBA titles by seventh-round knockout of Hiroto Kyoguchi on Nov. 1. The WBC ordered him to next defend against mandatory challenger Hekkie Budler.
A final eliminator was ordered between Luis Castillo and Ayanda Ndulani. The winner would be the mandatory challenger for titleholder Panya Pradabsri.