Few questionable decisions made by the WBC at their convention this week, but one stands out as most ludicrous: If Dillian Whyte’s UKAD situation is resolved completely and he 100% clears his name, he still now has to wait at least this long until getting a title fight. Why? pic.twitter.com/XsG0DM9IYb— Michael Benson (@MichaelBensonn) October 24, 2019
If you needed any more proof that belts and titles in boxing have become absurd, the WBC named Vasiliy Lomachenko as its lightweight Franchise Champion and elevated Devin Haney to regular lightweight champion. This Franchise Champion farce is so far unique to the WBC, with Canelo Alvarez being the first fighter ever to be given the title. Rumors are he will not be the last.
It was also announced that if Dilian Whyte’s UKAD situation gets resolved, he will fight the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury winner in 2021. However, there are rumors -- promoter Eddie Hearn is not happy about them -- that rather than have the Wilder-Fury winner face Whyte as his mandatory opponent in 2021, the WBC is going to elevate Wilder to Franchise Champion and let him face whoever he wants.
The last thing boxing needed was another way for the best to avoid fighting the best, but the Franchise Champion outrage may be overblown. We have seen guys throw belts in the trash to avoid facing mandatory opponents -- Alvarez has vacated a couple belts in order to avoid facing Gennady Golovkin -- and it has long been understood that money and public pressure, not belts, make the biggest fights happen. This is a terrible move from the WBC, but it seems doubtful that it will have any huge ramifications for the sport.
De La Hoya Sued for Sexual Assault
Oscar De La Hoya a few weeks back was being sued by DJ David “Tattoo” Gonzalez, who claimed the former boxing champion forced him to do all sorts of illegal things for him. De La Hoya has since been hit with another lawsuit, this one comprised of far worse allegations.
A woman is suing De La Hoya and claims he sexually assaulted her in 2017 while intoxicated. While it is unclear how much compensation the woman is seeking, the details of the alleged incident are graphic; and De La Hoya’s 1995 sexual assault against a minor lawsuit, which was settled out of court, may give the incident credence. Golden Boy Promotions is standing by its CEO and released a statement calling the lawsuit “frivolous” and the allegations “completely false.” However, considering how shaky the Golden Boy relationship with fighters like Canelo Alvarez and Ryan Garcia has supposedly been of late and how many men the #metoo era has gotten fired, the company might soon need to cut the man after which it was named.
Hopkins Wants Jones Jr. Trilogy
In what some cynics on social media claimed was an attempt to take media attention away from Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins announced he would like to fight Roy Jones Jr. for a third time, and the International Business Times claims Jones has already verbally agreed to it.
It is rather annoying that the International Boxing Hall of Fame put Hopkins on their ballot this year, only to see him unretire to fight Jones, but Hopkins will likely be the favorite going into the fight. While “The Executioner” is 56 years old, he was fighting for the WBC 175-pound belt against Joe Smith in 2016. Meanwhile, the 50-year-old Jones -- who is also a naturally bigger man -- has not fought for a legitimate world title since 2009. While Jones won the first fight between the two in 1993, Hopkins won the rematch in 2010. This fight is not going to generate much interest with both men being so old, but it is nice to see old guys fighting old guys instead of what 55-year-old Nigel Benn is doing.
Eubanks Jr. to Face Korobov in U.S. Debut
Speaking of Nigel Benn, his old rival’s son, Christopher Eubanks Jr., will make his United States debut at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Dec. 7. He will face Matt Korobov on Showtime’s Jermall Charlo-Dennis Hogan undercard.
After losing to Billy Joe Saunders as a middleweight in 2014, Eubanks rattled off five wins before moving to 168 pounds. At supermiddleweight, Eubank lost to George Groves but most recently beat James Degale. Still, for this bout, he is moving back down to 160 and will look to win the vacant WBA middleweight title. Korobov was a 2008 Russian Olympian and holds an amateur win over Oleksandr Usyk. Now 36 years old, he holds a 28-2 record as a professional, with losses to Charlo (a fight he took on short notice in December) and Andy Lee.
Pulev Risking Mandatory Ruiz-Joshua Date by Fighting Booker
Kubrat Pulev is the mandatory opponent for the Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua winner, but he is not going to sit and wait for that fight. Instead, he will face Rydell Booker on Nov. 9 on the ESPN+ undercard for Jamel Herring-Lamont Roach Jr. in Fresno, California. Pulev is on a seven-fight winning streak since a 2014 loss to Wladmimir Klitschko and is fresh off a win over Bogdan Dinu in March.
In this matchup, Booker has the far more interesting story. He was an undefeated prospect out of Detroit -- he claims to have sparred fighters like Tommy Hearns at the Kronk Gym as a teenager -- until a 2004 decision loss to James Toney. Booker did not fight again until February 2018, because he spent 12 years in prison. In fact, Booker claims he took the Toney fight to pay legal fees from the charges of which he was ultimately found guilty, including his attempt to sell 35 pounds of cocaine.
Now 38, Booker is 4-1 in his comeback, with his sole loss coming to Jermaine Franklin. With Pulev coming off a suspension for kissing a female reporter, it is interesting to see him put against someone with a lengthy criminal record, and it will be fascinating to see how the fight is marketed.
Smith Jr. Slotted Opposite Hart on Jan. 11
Joe Smith Jr. was supposed to be something special after he beat Bernard Hopkins, but losses to Dmitry Bivol and Sullivan Barrera have put a serious dent in his career. Jesse Hart moved up to 175 pounds after twice challenging and losing to Gilberto Ramirez in bids for the WBO 168-pound title. In his 175-pound debut, he beat Barrera.
Smith and Hart on Jan. 11 are apparently going to face each other in Atlantic City, New Jersey. With Smith having stopped 20 of the 24 fighters he has beaten and with Hart having stopped 21 of the 26 fighters he has beaten, this one should be fun. Plus, with both men needing to show they can beat the elite of the elite, it should be important.
Rumors: Fury Banking $12-15 Million for WWE Exploits
Those who were wondering why Tyson Fury during his World Wrestling Entertainment sojourn is so nonchalantly risking opening the cut from the Otto Wallin fight or sustaining some other kind of injury that would torpedo his expected February rematch with Deontay Wilder received an answer.
It is being reported that Fury is making $12-15 million dollars for his match with Braun Stroman. While Fury neither confirmed nor denied the number, if true, it would make Fury the highest-paid boxer ever to enter the WWE. It would place him above PPV kings Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather. While most looked at the move to the WWE as a risk-reward scenario for Fury -- the reward was supposed to be a huge boost to his notoriety -- the new figures will force us rework the equation.