Dan Rafael: WBO

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.

News and notes from the WBO convention

October, 31, 2014
The 27th annual WBO convention wrapped up on Thursday at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The most significant activity at any sanctioning body convention comes on rankings and mandatory day, which is when the floor is open for promoters to make their cases for their boxers to receive favorable rankings. The organizations also will typically go over each division's title status and make any necessary rulings.

Here's an update with a few notable items from the convention, division by division:

• Super middleweight: Although the WBO declined to order a mandatory rematch between titlist Arthur Abraham and Paul Smith in the wake of Abraham's controversial decision win on Sept. 27, it said the fighters likely will face off in an optional rematch in February. It's no secret that their promoters have been in talks.

• Middleweight: The Nov. 29 fight between Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr. was sanctioned as the final eliminator to produce the mandatory challenger for the winner of the Dec. 13 vacant title bout between Matt Korobov and Andy Lee.

• Welterweight: Former welterweight titlist Shawn Porter, who held another organization's belt, and former junior welterweight titlist Mike Alvarado requested to rankings in the welterweight division, which are likely to be granted.

• Junior welterweight: In a surprise move, the WBO announced that titleholder Chris Algieri, who challenges welterweight titlist Manny Pacquiao on Nov. 22, will have his belt vacated with the commencement of the fight with Pacquiao -- rather than be able to pick a division to defend in should he win or have the ability to return to junior welterweight to defend if he loses.

• Junior lightweight: Titleholder Orlando Salido may go to Russia to defend against Andrey Klimov, but whomever he fights he expects to defend in February or March.

• Junior featherweight: The organization said it would sanction a bout for the vacant interim title. Full titleholder Guillermo Rigondeaux had been ordered to face mandatory challenger Chris Avalos. Rigondeaux's team won a purse bid, but Avalos, also mandatory in the IBF, elected to go that route for a bigger fight with titlist Carl Frampton. So the WBO wants the winner of the interim title bout -- participants TBA -- to face Rigondeaux in a mandatory fight. It's pretty silly to sanction the interim title bout if that's the reason. The WBO should either go down its rankings until it finds somebody willing to accept the mandatory assignment against Rigondeaux or it should order the top contenders to fight and call it a title eliminator, not an interim title bout.

• Junior bantamweight: Titleholder Omar Narvaez will defend in December, but no date or opponent was specified.

• Junior flyweight: Titleholder Donnie Nietes will defend his belt against Carlos Velarde on Nov. 15 in the Philippines, but after that Nietes plans to go up to flyweight, which would leave the junior flyweight belt vacant.

Japan welcomes alphabet titles

March, 25, 2013
For decades, the only sanctioning organizations accepted by the Japanese Boxing Commission and the Japanese Professional Boxing Association were the WBA and WBC. That is why you never see Japanese fighters vying for IBF or WBO belts.

That is why, for example, when Mexico's Fernando Montiel, then the WBO's bantamweight titleholder, went to Japan in 2010 to meet WBC counterpart Hozumi Hasegawa, Montiel's belt was not at stake. Montiel wound up knocking out Hasegawa in the fourth round to unify the 118-pound belts, but had Hasegawa won, he would not have taken the WBO title.

But now Japan's boxing officials have opened their arms to the other sanctioning organizations. There was a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday where IBF officials and Japanese officials made the announcement, which came about a month after a similar event welcomed the WBO to the fray.

Beginning April 1, Japanese boxers will, for the first time, be eligible to fight for all four organizations' titles.

I'm not fan of the organizations, as anyone who reads my blogs undoubtedly knows, but this move will certainly open up more opportunities for Japanese fighters, including bigger purses. However, the titles will also be watered down in Japan, as they have become around the world.

The reason for the change was because the JBPA, a union of the promoters and gym owners in Japan, consistently was receiving requests from people in the boxing business to open the country up to other sanctioning organizations. It eventually went to the JBC to make the request and the JBC decided to allow it.

"We know there are many talented boxers in Japan, and we wish to give them good opportunities to acquire the IBF championships," IBF president Daryl Peoples said at the news conference. "It's our great pleasure that we have Japan as our new member."

Dan Rafael

Burgos ready for next title shot

September, 28, 2012
Juan Carlos Burgos Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesJuan Carlos Burgos seems to be ready to challenge Roman Martinez for the junior lightweight title.

Juan Carlos Burgos has had one title shot so far, but lost that featherweight challenge to Hozumi Hasegawa by decision in a terrific 2010 battle.

Since then, Burgos moved up to junior lightweight and stamped himself as a quality contender in that weight class by winning five fights in a row, including handing Luis Cruz (W10) and Cesar Vazquez (TKO3) their first professional defeats.

Mexico’s Burgos (30-1, 20 KOs) is ready to fight for a world title again and he will get the shot as the mandatory challenger for 130-pound titlist Roman “Rocky” Martinez of Puerto Rico.

According to Burgos’ co-promoters, Banner Promotions and Thompson Boxing, the WBO has ordered Martinez to make the mandatory defense against Burgos next.
Martinez (26-1-1, 16 KOs) claimed the vacant belt via split decision victory against Mexico’s Miguel Beltran Jr. in a slugfest that served as the HBO PPV co-feature to the Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. middleweight championship fight on Sept. 15.

"I am ready for Rocky Martinez,” Burgos said. “He showed his ability on his fight against Beltran Jr., and was the deserving of the title. But I'm ready to challenge him for it.”

Burgos said he would get the job done this time after falling short against Hasegawa.

"I won't let this one get away from me,” he said. “I want to fulfill my destiny with the WBO belt around my waist. I just need to know the date so I can prepare to go to war with Martinez.”

Burgos’ knockout of Vazquez on ESPN2 in July was as impressive as any of his recent wins.

“Juan Carlos has shown that he is more than ready for this opportunity,” Banner Promotions chief Artie Pelullo said. “He has defeated the best at 130 pounds and we are very confident that he will defeat Martinez in what should be a fabulous fight. This will be another classic fight between Puerto Rican and Mexican fighters.”