Everyone in boxing knows that the WBA have a bizarre policy of handing out title like candy. They, as we all know, love to have a regular champion at every weight as well as an interim champion at many weights, along side a Super Champion in a number of divisions and even the odd champion in Recess. I also seem to remember a few years ago they also had a "Unified Champion" in Yuriorkis Gamboa (who had unified his WBA title with the IBF's title)). In theory that means that the WBA could have 5 titles in any weight.
A little bit of research shows that the WBA currently has 2 or more champions in 10 divisions:
Heavyweight-Super Champion Wladimir Klitschko, Regular Champion Alexander Povetkin
Super Middleweight-Super Champion Andre Ward, Regular Champion Brian Magee and interim champion Stanyslav Kashtanov
Middleweight-Regular Champion Gennady Golovkin, Interim Champion Martin Murray
Light Middleweight-Super Champion Floyd Mayweather, Regular Champion Austin Trout
Welterweight-Regular Champion Paul Malignaggi, Interim Champion Diego Gabriel Chaves
Light Welterweight-Super Champion Danny Garcia, Regular Champion Khabib Allakhverdiev
Super Bantamweight-Regular Champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, Interim Chmapion Scott Quigg
Bantamweight-Super Champion Anselmo Moreno, Regular Champion Koki Kameda
Flyweight-Super Champion Brian Viloria, Interim Champion Juan Carlos Reveco
Light Flyweight-Regular Champion Roman Gonzalez, Interim Champion Alberto Rossel
Of course as you can see Featherweight is one of the few divisions with just 1 WBA champion (Super Champion Chris John). This coming weekend all that changes as the WBA have both their vacant Regular and their "vacant" interim titles up for grabs as the sanctioning fees start to roll in once again!
In Jamaica the exciting Nicholas Walters (21-0, 17) faces Daulis Prescott (26-1, 19) for the full version of the title. This bout, see's the WBA's #1 ranked fighter facing the #5 ranked fighter in what promises to be a thoroughly engaging bout. The very same night around 4000 miles away we see talented Dominican Javier Fortuna (20-0-0-1, 15) facing unbeaten Irishman Patrick Hyland (27-0, 12) for the vacant interim WBA Featherweight title. This bout sees the WBA's #2 and #6 ranked fighters facing off for the interim title.
Whilst both of these are interesting bouts (as would be fights involving the WBA's #3 and #4 contenders Gary Russell Jr and Claudio Marrero) I just can't understand why we are having them on the same night. Why not have them as an eliminator and try to force 3 great fights out of this instead of just 2? Oh sorry I forgot the key words here, "sanctioning fees".
The WBO have long been seen as a bit of a joke organisation with weird rankings, poor champions and some bizarre decisions. In recent years however, thanks to the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Wladimir Klitschko, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez the WBO has become a bit of a genuine fixture on the world scene and has started to become more and more accepted as a genuine world title.
Sadly however the WBO have found a way to take 1 step forward, 2 steps backwards time and time again. The most recent example of their "2-steps back" is their November rankings in which they rank Scottish fighter and former WBO Featherweight champion Scott Harrison (27-2-2, 15) as their #11 at Featherweight.
Usually I'd have no problems with a former champion being ranked at a weight where they held a world title just 3 fights back (and never lost their belt in the ring). However things with Harrison aren't that straight forward. Last time Harrison held his world title may have only been 3 fights back, but that was over 6 years ago, and last time out Harrison weighed in well above the Featherweight limit, 145lbs. In fact in Harrison's two most recent fights he weight in at 134.75 and 145, the lightest of those being only a smidge inside the Lightweight limit.
Whilst I know we all make mistakes (something Harrison has done regularly away from the ring) the WBO's mistake here is simply laughable. I'm not sure if they expect Harrison to chop off his legs to face their Featherweight champion (Orlando Salido-what a fight that would have been if Harrison was near his prime), or have slipped him in their rankings as a way to allow him to fight for a title at 135lbs (against fellow Scot Ricky Burns), but whatever it is it's certainly suspect and more than a little bit "weird".