WBC maps out next fights, strips Lomachenko

The 57th annual WBC convention is taking place this week at the Grand Oasis in Cancun, Mexico, and on Wednesday, the most important element of the gathering took place: The sanctioning organization determined the plan for each of its world titleholders and ratified its mandatory orders.

The biggest news came in the lightweight division, in which unified world champion — and pound-for-pound king — Vasiliy Lomachenko was relieved of his WBC title and given the honorary title of “franchise champion,” and interim titlist Devin Haney was elevated to the WBC’s world titleholder.

Here is a division-by-division look at what’s in store, but keep in mind this is what the WBC wants to happen. Fighters ordered to face certain opponents in title fights or elimination bouts have the option of going in another direction with another organization if they so desire:

Heavyweight: Deontay Wilder will defend his title in an optional defense in a rematch with Luis “King Kong” Ortiz of Cuba on Nov. 23. A rematch has been approved by the WBC against lineal champion Tyson Fury for Feb. 22 as long as Wilder retains the title against Ortiz. No. 1 contender Dillian Whyte’s situation is in limbo as he goes through the investigation process following a positive recent drug test. If the situation is resolved without a suspension, Whyte will be the mandatory challenger.

Cruiserweight: Ilunga Makabu and former world titlist Krzysztof Glowacki, the WBC’s top two contenders, have been ordered to fight for the world title that became vacant when Oleksandr Usyk moved up to heavyweight.

Light heavyweight: Artur Beterbiev knocked out Oleksandr Gvozdyk in the 10th round last Friday to unify his IBF belt with the WBC belt he won from Gvozdyk. Beterbiev will next make his IBF mandatory defense against Meng Fanlong in early 2020. Fanlong is also ranked by the WBC, and there was a request from the promoters that the fight also be sanctioned for the WBC title. A fight between Jean Pascal and Badou Jack is likely to happen in late December, and the WBC would sanction it as an eliminator to determine the next mandatory challenger.

Super middleweight: Titleholder David Benavidez is due to make a mandatory defense against Avni Yildirim in early 2020.

Middleweight: Titlist Jermall Charlo is scheduled for an optional defense against Dennis Hogan on Dec. 7. The WBC plans to wait two weeks following the outcome of that fight before addressing the mandatory situation.

Junior middleweight: Titleholder Tony Harrison and mandatory challenger and former titlist Jermell Charlo were supposed to fight a rematch of Harrison’s controversial title win in June, but it was postponed because Harrison suffered an ankle injury. Charlo defeated substitute opponent Jorge Cota instead, but the Harrison-Charlo rematch remains mandated. It could take place as soon as December. A final eliminator to determine the next mandatory was approved between Erickson Lubin, who would have to win his fight against Nathaniel Gallimore on Saturday night, and Sergio Garcia.

Welterweight: Unified titleholder Errol Spence Jr., who is recovering from his recent car accident, for which he faces a DUI charge, is supposed to make a mandatory defense against former titlist Danny Garcia upon his return.

Junior welterweight: Unified titlist Jose Ramirez will make his WBC mandatory defense against former titlist Viktor Postol in early 2020. A purse bid was slated for Wednesday at the convention, but because the sides are close to a deal, they requested a brief postponement, which was granted. If they don’t make a deal, the purse bid will take place on Monday in Los Angeles. Ramirez is entitled to 70% of the winning bid and Postol 30%.

Lightweight: Unified world champion Lomachenko, who won the vacant WBC belt by decision over Luke Campbell on Aug. 31, was stripped of the belt and given the honorary title of “franchise champion,” the second in WBC history since its recent creation for Canelo Alvarez. Interim titlist Haney, who elevated to the WBC’s world titleholder, had been scheduled to defend the interim belt on Nov. 9 against an opponent to be named and now will defend the full title. Also, the Nov. 2 bout between former titleholders Javier Fortuna and Jesus Cuellar was approved as a final eliminator to determine Haney’s mandatory challenger.

Junior lightweight: Titlist Miguel Berchelt is scheduled to make an optional defense against former secondary titlist Jason Sosa on Nov. 2 in the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN main event. The fight between former featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez, who is moving up to junior lightweight, and Andres Gutierrez — who meet on Nov. 30 in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card — was approved as a final eliminator to determine the mandatory challenger. The WBC said the Berchelt-Sosa winner must face the Valdez-Gutierrez in the mandatory defense next.

Featherweight: Titlist Gary Russell Jr. was ordered to make his mandatory defense next against Tugstsogt Nyambayar.

Junior featherweight: Titleholder Rey Vargas outpointed interim titleholder Tomoki Kameda in a mandatory defense on July 13 and can take a voluntary fight next.

Bantamweight: Titlist Nordine Oubaali won the vacant title in January. When a fighter wins a vacant WBC belt, that person must make two mandatory defenses. Oubaali got an exception for an optional defense in July and now must deal with his mandatories. The first is scheduled against interim titlist Takuma Inoue on Nov. 7. No. 1 contender and former world titlist Luis Nery faces former titlist Emmanuel Rodriguez on Nov. 23 and would get the next mandatory shot if he wins.

Junior bantamweight: Titleholder Juan Francisco Estrada is due to meet Khalid Yafai in a unification bout, probably in January. Former champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who has split two action-packed fights with Estrada, was approved as the mandatory challenger.

Flyweight: With Charlie Edwards recently relinquishing the title, top-ranked Julio Cesar Martinez and former titlist Cristofer Rosales will meet for the vacant title as soon as Dec. 20. A final eliminator was ordered between Junto Nakatani and McWilliams Arroyo to determine the first mandatory challenger.

Junior flyweight: Titleholder Ken Shiro is scheduled to face IBF counterpart Felix Alvarado in a unification fight on Dec. 23.

Strawweight: Titleholder Wanheng Menayothin is scheduled to make his mandatory defense against Simpiwe Konkco on Oct. 25.

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