Dan Rafael: WBA

Lineal heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko, who also owns three of the major alphabet titles, will put them all on the line when he makes his mandatory defense against Kubrat Pulev on Saturday (HBO, 4:45 p.m. ET/PT) at the O2 World arena in Hamburg, Germany.

Pulev, however, will be competing for only the IBF belt, for which he is the mandatory challenger, according to Klitschko manager Bernd Boente and the WBO.

Pulev (20-0, 11 KOs) has elected not pay sanctioning fees for the WBO and WBA belts (as well as the minor IBO belt), so he will not be eligible to win them. Of course, if he beats Klitschko, Pulev would claim the lineal title and the IBF belt. The others would become vacant.

Klitschko (62-3, 53 KOs) is paying his sanctioning fees and officially defending all of his belts.

Pulev is due to earn a career-high $1,450,026, his 20 percent share of K2 Promotions’ winning purse bid of $7,250,131. By paying a sanctioning fee only to the IBF, Pulev will save substantial money, which is perhaps not a bad move considering he is such a heavy underdog to Klitschko, who will be making his 17th title defense.

Wider use of instant replay a good thing

September, 2, 2014
If you are regular reader of my blog or weekly chat, you obviously know that I am not a fan of boxing’s sanctioning organizations as they are currently run.

However, every now and then we can agree on something, and this is one of those times as the organizations are embracing a wider use of video replay. So look out the window because pigs might be flying!

Three of the alphabet organizations (WBC, IBF, WBA) have had recent meetings, and one of the outcomes was an agreement to use replay for title bouts. Of course, the local commissions regulating any fight have the final say on the rules governing a fight, but they will often take the rules of a sanctioning body into account.

The organizations will have their own rules for implementing replay, which is already used in some jurisdictions, including Nevada, although not very often and only in very specific instances.

The WBC, however, recently issued its instant replay guidelines, which I found interesting and potentially a very good thing if administered properly. It could save some terrible calls, such as correctly identifying the specific cause of a cut or determining whether a punch was delivered after the bell.

Here are the WBC’s guidelines:

• In conjunction with the local commission, the WBC will appoint a panel in charge of instant replay. The panel will consist of the WBC supervisor, the local commission supervisor and the specifically appointed monitor supervisor.

• The promoter, with the support of the television network, will provide a monitor to be placed at the head table of the commission with headphones for audio commentary to receive the live feed.

• Instant replay is limited to review (a) whether a cut or other injury to the face is the result of a punch or otherwise; or (b) whether a punch is thrown after the bell signaling the end of a round and (c) in any major situation that can change the outcome of the bout and where the replay clearly shows the actions are contradictory to the live ruling of the referee.

• The referee may call "time out" during the bout and consult with the instant replay panel, if in doubt, as to any scenario. However, it is recommended that all reviews are done during the resting minute period.

• The instant replay panel will review any controversial instance that may have occurred in any round. A determination of the referee may be overruled solely if the instant replay monitor clearly and conclusively reveals, according to each member of the panel, that the ruling of the action by the referee was mistaken in his original determination.

• The referee may request to verify the action by watching the TV monitor or may choose to accept the panel's recommendation, which is the final decision and the ruling that will be enforced.

• Both corners and the audience will be notified of the final decision.
For almost 2 1/2 years, the WBC has broken its rules when it comes to Floyd Mayweather Jr., allowing him to simultaneously hold its welterweight world title and the junior middleweight title of the equally rule-ignoring WBA.

No surprise there, since the WBC likes to sanction fighters for cursing in postfight interviews (Chris Arreola) or making a remark perceived as racist (Adrien Broner), yet it took no action whatsoever when Mayweather was incarcerated on a domestic abuse conviction. The WBC's hypocrisy is legendary.

In any event, Mayweather reclaimed the WBC welterweight belt by knocking out Victor Ortiz in September 2011. In his next fight, Mayweather outpointed Miguel Cotto to win the WBA's junior middleweight belt in May 2012.

At that point, based on the rules (which I am not saying I necessarily agree with), both organizations were obligated to make Mayweather pick one belt or the other. It's against the rules of both organizations for a fighter to hold belts in multiple divisions.

Many times over the years a fighter has changed divisions and won another title only to be forced to make a decision on which one to keep within a short period of time, usually two weeks.

But not Mayweather. Now I don't blame him, because it's the organizations who broke their own rules, not Mayweather.

When Mayweather dropped back down to welterweight after the Cotto fight to defend the WBC welterweight title against Robert Guerrero in May 2013, the WBA just let him keep his junior middleweight belt. Why not? After all, that organization already had other multiple champions in the same division, so what's one more, right?

In his next fight, Mayweather schooled Canelo Alvarez to unify the WBC and WBA junior middleweight titles. Alvarez had entered the fight with the WBC belt and secondary WBA belt of the main title Mayweather already owned.

The WBC continued to allow Mayweather to also hold the welterweight belt, in clear violation of the rules it had subjected other fighters to over the years in terms of having to decide which belt to hold.

And when Mayweather beat Marcos Maidana to unify the WBC and WBA welterweight titles in May, he laid claim to unified titles in two weight classes, a historical achievement made possible by the organizations ignoring their own rules.

That brings us to Mayweather's rematch with Maidana on Sept. 13 (Showtime PPV) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The WBC announced Wednesday that it will allow Mayweather to defend his titles in both weight classes against Maidana -- and undoubtedly collect a sweet sanctioning fee for the privilege. If Maidana wins, the WBC will recognize him as its titleholder in both weight classes. The WBA has made no announcement, but you can bet it will also follow the money.

It's not the first time this unusual allowance has happened. In 1988, the WBC allowed Sugar Ray Leonard to challenge Donny Lalonde for its light heavyweight title as well as for the WBC's vacant (and newly created) super middleweight title, but as weak as that instance was, at least the farce didn't carry on for more than two years, because Leonard vacated the light heavyweight title shortly thereafter.

More WBA title madness

December, 18, 2013
The absurdity of the WBA knows no bounds. I’ve harped on the organizations and their sheer madness and audacity for years -- not to mention putrid rankings, multiple titles and not following their own rules -- but things are just way out of hand now with this particular alphabet soup body.

It’s bad enough that the WBA will sanction as many as four titleholders in the same weight class (for a small sanctioning fee, of course). It has super, regular, unified and interim titleholders. Take your pick. It is just pathetic.

But where it really is ridiculous is when two of its so-called titleholders perform on the same night rather than fighting each other.

On Saturday, light heavyweight titlist Beibut Shumenov, inactive for 18 months (yet allowed to keep his belt) was “elevated” to “super” titleholder and defended the belt against Tamas Kovacs on the big card in San Antonio.

On the very same day in Germany, Juergen Braehmer outpointed Marcus Oliveira -- a massive joke to be fighting for a world title given his woeful résumé -- to win the vacant “regular” title.

Here you had Shumenov and Braehmer, both quality top-10 175-pounders, fighting for belts in the same organization on the same day rather than facing each other.

As bad as that was, it gets even worse on Feb. 1 in Monte Carlo. That is where Gennady Golovkin, also recently “elevated” (which really means another title that the greedy organization can charge another sanctioning fee for) to “super” titleholder, will defend against Osumanu Adama.

On the very same card, England’s Martin Murray (26-1-1, 11 KOs), the interim titlist, will face Australia’s Jarrod Fletcher (17-1, 10 KOs) for the now-vacant “regular” title when Murray really should be facing Golovkin, for whom he was the mandatory. But the WBA didn’t order the fight. Instead, it is content to collect another fee and pass off this fight as a title bout.

It’s insanity, yet the Murray camp made Wednesday’s announcement of the fight with Fletcher -- knocked out in the second round the only time he ever faced a decent opponent in Billy Joe Saunders last year -- out to be some huge deal.

“Martin Murray will look to fulfill his dream of becoming St Helens' first-ever world champion in Monte Carlo on February 1,” the Hatton Promotions press release read.

The winner of that fight won’t be a real world champion. He’ll have a gaudy belt but no credibility as a serious champion. How can the winner be a real world champion when Golovkin (28-0, 25 KOs), in the main event, is active and already holds a title in the same organization?

I can’t blame Murray. Is he supposed to turn down the opportunity? Of course not. He’s already had two other title shots, a draw with Felix Sturm and a tight loss to Sergio Martinez (the real, honest-to-goodness middleweight champ of the world). So from Murray’s point of view, the fight with Fletcher is meaningful, even if to most others it is pointless as far as being a title fight.

“Jarrod Fletcher is a good kid. I've not seen too much of him, but we'll be working on that now we've got a date,” Murray said. “He's got a good pedigree, and he beat [2008 British Olympic gold medalist] James DeGale in the amateurs, which isn't easy and proves he's a good fighter.

"He's going to be well up for this, but I think I'll be the favorite and rightly so, given who I've fought before and how I've done against them. It's going to be interesting for both of us, but I want everyone to know that there's no way I'm coming home to St Helens without that world title.”

Indeed, Murray said “that” world title. Just not a legitimate one, thanks to the WBA’s continuing joke of having multiple belts in the same division.