<
>

WBA continues to consolidate titles

Unified middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin wasn't able to secure a fight to defend his belts in December. Nick Potts/PA via AP

As the WBA continues to consolidate titles in an effort to reduce the number of belts it sanctions in each division (super, regular and interim) from three to one, it has continued to order its various titleholders to face each other. It has also made rulings in other divisions, so here’s an update on several weight classes:

Heavyweight: Champion Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 KOs) may be suspended by British regulators this week and also risks being stripped of his various world title belts because of his recent positive drug tests for cocaine. As it relates to the WBA "super" belt he holds, WBA president Gilberto Mendoza Jr. told ESPN.com that the organization is “voting on the Fury case.” So no decision has been made yet.

Luis Ortiz (25-0, 22 KOs) is vacating the interim title. Rather than face mandatory challenger Alexander Ustinov, a fight for which there has already been a purse bid. Instead, Ortiz signed this week with Matchroom Boxing and will face Malik Scott in the first fight of the deal on Nov. 12 in Monte Carlo.

Mendoza said he had not yet received a letter from Ortiz officially vacating the title but he said he was expecting one. If he doesn’t get one, Ortiz would be stripped anyway for his failure to defend against the mandatory opponent.

Super middleweight: “Super” titleholder Felix Sturm has vacated his belt. Although he faces possible punishment following a positive drug test after a February majority decision win against Fedor Chudinov in their rematch -- the B sample is supposed to be opened this month -- Sturm’s camp said the prospect of a suspension and being stripped was not the reason for vacating. Germany’s Sturm (40-5-3, 18 KOs) needs surgery on both of his elbows and will be out of action until at least early next year and, therefore, is unavailable for a mandatory defense. Also, according to Sturm’s camp, Sturm, a pro since 2001, is planning to fight once more, in a farewell fight in Bulgaria (home country of his parents) and then retire.

Middleweight: The mandatory fight between “super” titleholder Gennady Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) and “regular” titlist Daniel Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) is in negotiations for Dec. 10 in what would be an HBO main event, but there are issues. As I wrote last week, the WBA is deliberating over Jacobs’ request for a 60-40 purse split in the event of a purse bid instead of the usual 75-25.

Junior middleweight: Regular titlist Jack Culcay (22-1, 11 KOs) was ordered in August to face former titlist Demetrius Andrade (23-0, 16 KOs), of Providence, Rhode Island, and while the sides did not make a deal, Culcay promoter Team Sauerland won the fight rights at a purse bid although, according to Andrade co-promoter Artie Pelullo, the papers are not signed yet. However, the fight is slated to take place on Nov. 5 in Potsdam, Germany.

Junior lightweight: “Super” titleholder Jezreel Corrales (20-1, 8 KOs), of Panama, was ordered to face secondary titlist Jason Sosa (19-1-4, 15 KOs), of Camden, New Jersey, but they were granted special permission to each do another fight first. Sosa is headed to Monte Carlo to defend against England’s Stephen Smith (24-2, 14 KOs) on Nov. 21 and on Dec. 31, Corrales will face former titleholder Takashi Uchiyama (24-1-1, 20 KOs), whom he stunningly stopped in the second round to win the belt in a big upset in April. The winners are supposed to then meet.

Featherweight: While “super” titleholder Carl Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) is headed to a rematch with former titleholder Leo Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) following their terrific fight on July 30, interim titlist Carlos Zambrano (26-0, 11 KOs), of Peru, who has made one successful defense, has been ordered to face Claudio Marrero (21-1, 15 KOs), of the Dominican Republic, whose lone loss came to current regular titleholder Jesus Cuellar in an interim title bout in 2013. Zambrano and Marrero have until early November to make a deal or a purse bid will be ordered.

“I have been calling out everyone in the 126-pound division for over a year, and the WBA has taken notice that I am worthy of the opportunity and can’t be avoided any longer,” Marrero said. “Zambrano must fight or vacate. I don’t know much about him other than he has what I need and want. The only way I am going to be given the fights for titles is becoming their mandatory. These paper champions who don’t wish to defend or clearly fight the best is sickening. I understand the business end of it, but that doesn’t make it better. The WBA has ordered it and I’m ready. Wait till they get a load of me.”

Bantamweight: On Aug. 3, a purse bid was ordered for the mandatory fight between “super” titleholder Rau’shee Warren (14-1, 4 KOs) and “regular” titlist” Jamie McDonnell (28-2-1, 13 KOs). Mendoza said the organization was notified that the camps had made a deal for the fight to be Nov. 12 on Matchroom Boxing’s card in Monte Carlo. However, Mendoza said that last week Warren withdrew from the fight for an unknown reason. “We have still not received any response from Warren's team,” Mendoza said about the reason for his withdrawal. He said he has asked for a written explanation and that Warren risks being stripped. So as not to hold up England’s McDonnell, a voluntary defense was approved and he will instead face former junior bantamweight titlist Liborio Solis (25-4-1, 11 KOs), of Venezuela, on the Nov. 12 card.

Flyweight: Now that Juan Francisco Estrada has vacated and moved up to junior bantamweight, “regular” titleholder Kazuto Ioka (20-1, 12 KOs), of Japan, and interim titlist Stamp Kiatniwat (15-0, 6 KOs), of Thailand, have been ordered to negotiate their mandatory fight. They have until early November to make a deal or a purse bid will be ordered. This is another bout in which the WBA is eliminating an extraneous title as it continues its process of getting down to one per division.