One thing all boxing fans will be fully aware of is the fact the title awarding bodies love to have multiple versions of "world titles" flying around the place. Whilst it's pretty obvious that the WBA are the biggest culprit with many divisions having a "Regular", an "Interim" and even a "Super" champion. Whilst we think that is pretty bad we've actually been made aware of the WBO going 1 step further and having 2 "interim" titles at the same time!
Back in the summer of 2010 Ivan Calderon was seen as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, he had been unbeaten in 35 fights (34-0-1) and was the reigning WBO Light Flyweight champion with a number of defenses behind him. Underneath him the WBO had an interim champion in the form of Filipino youngster John Riel Casimero. In June of 2010 Calderon defended his title against Mexican Jesus Iribe (UD12) then things started to get a bit weird at the WBO HQ.
Just weeks after Calderon v Iribe the WBO had their "Interim" title on the line as John Riel Casimero faced Ramon Garcia Hirales, Hirales managed to narrowly edge past Casimero to claim the "Interim title" and the logical idea would be to try and force Calderon v Hirales. The only problem with this is that the world of boxing is anything but logical.
Just weeks after Hirales had become the interim champion Calderon would lose his world title to Mexican slugger Giovani Segura (KO8) who unified the WBO title with the WBA title. Instead of then forcing Segura to face Hirales the WBO had a better idea and that was to allow Hirales to defend his interim strap against Manuel Vargas. Hirales was successful against Vargas (MD12) and it seemed like he had cemented his place as the "interim" champion. Sadly just 5 weeks later the WBO allowed Jesus Geles to face Omar Soto in a battler for the "interim" Light Flyweight title, the same one that Hirales had defended!
Geles managed defeat Soto (MD12) for the interim title bringing us to the situation of having 2 “interim” champions from the same governing body at the same time. What further complicated matters was the fact that Hirales was allowed to defend his “interim” title against the same Omar Soto who had lost to Geles, just weeks after the Soto Geles bout.
Thankfully the WBO cleared up the situation in February 2011 when Geles faced Hirales in what can only be considered a WBO “Interim” title unification bout. In a hard fought bout Geles controversially scored the split decision victory to unify the title belts.
Whilst this was confusing in terms of being an “interim” unification it was also confusing just on an activity basis. Between June 2010 and May 2011 the WBO Light Flyweight title, and the interims were fought for no less than 9 times (see below):
June 12th 2010-Calderon UD12 Iribe (“Regular” title)
July 24th 2010-Hirales SD12 Casimero (“Interim” title #1)
August 28th 2010-Segura KO8 Calderon (“Regular” title)
September 25th 2010-Hirales MD12 Vargas (“Interim” title #1)
October 30th-Geles MD12 Soto (“Interim” title #2)
December 18th 2010-Hirales UD12 Soto (“Interim” title #1)
February 5th 2011-Geles SD12 Hirales (“Interim” unification)
April 2nd 2011-Segura KO3 Calderon (“Regular” title) (Segura then vacated the title)
April 30th 2011-Hirales KO4 Geles (“Regular” title)
Thankfully the WBO finally got out of their own mess thanks to Segura moving up to fight at Flyweight.
In a follow up to our piece entitled "WBC Weird Bastards in Control" we've since found out just how much the WBC hate unification bouts. Firstly it appears they weren't particularly happy with the WBC/WBA Minimumweight title unification bout between Kazuto Ioka and Akira Yaegashi that took place just a few weeks ago. Whilst both titles in that situation had mandatory challengers it may have made more sense to allow the champion to unify and then face both mandatories over the following 6-12 months instead of forcing the winner (Ioka) to give up one of his titles.
Following the Ioka v Yaegahsi fight the WBC stepped in the way of unification bouts with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (WBC Light Middleweight champion) and Austin Trout (WBA Light Middleweight champion) or Cornelius Bundrage (IBF Light Middleweight champion). The situation for Canelo now sees him defending his WBC world title against career Light Welterweight Josesito Lopez in what can only be described as mismatch.
After the WBA re-instated Amir Khan as the WBA Light Welterweight "Super Champion" ahead of his bout with WBC champion Danny Garcia boxing fans all expected to see a unified champion at 140lbs. Instead of a proper unification the WBC once again threw their toys out of the proverbial pram and has stated "The WBC will accept only the WBC. Whoever doesn't want it, the title is vacant." Effectively the winner will be forced to make a decision, they can be either the WBA or the WBC champion.
Whilst this decision won't matter too much if Khan wins (as he is generally expected to) due to the fact the Englishman is expect to move to Welterweight if he wins it will matter if Garcia wins as the belt situation in the division will be a real mess.
Hopefully the WBC will change their mind on this bizarre stance sooner rather than later. Boxing needs to head towards unification bouts, we need more unified champions and we need to have the best fighting the best. If one champion holds all 4 titles (as Bernard Hopkins did) then that's good for the sport as it gives a clear #1 in the division. Sadly however if the WBC want to step in the way of unification then they ultimately need to be ignored and put into the same boat as the likes of the WBF, they are standing in the way of progress.
With the Middleweight division heading towards a bit of a "spiritual unification" with Chavez v Martinez (WBC, RING) and Sturm v Geale (WBA "super" and IBF) hopefully the WBC grow up and and allow the winners to fight to sort out one of the most ridiculous situations in world boxing.