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WBA clarifies its position on super middleweight titleholders

Andre Ward will ease his way back into action against Paul Smith in a nontile fight June 20. AP Photo/Reed Saxon

The WBA, which, often absurdly crowns three titleholders per weight class, clarified its position on its trio of super middleweight titleholders on Thursday.

Super champion Andre Ward (27-0, 14 KOs), coming off a 19-month layoff, had his request for a nontitle bout approved so he can face former two-time title challenger Paul Smith (35-5, 20 KOs) on June 20 at 172 pounds as he eases back into action.

The organization also stripped regular titleholder Carl Froch (33-2, 24 KOs), who hasn’t fought for a year since his knockout of George Groves in their rematch last May. Froch, out until this summer because of an injury, previously vacated the IBF version of the title because he could not (and, frankly, wasn’t interested) in making a mandatory defense against James DeGale. Froch told ESPN.com in Las Vegas at last week’s Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight that he is strongly considering retirement.

The WBA previously ordered a mandatory fight between Ward and Froch, and Froch will remain Ward’s mandatory challenger. But if Ward loses to Smith, his title will be stripped. Ward beat Froch easily by decision to win the Super Six World Boxing Classic in 2011.

Interim titlist Fedor Chudinov (12-0, 10 KO) and former middleweight titlist Felix Sturm (39-4-3, 18 KO), already scheduled to fight on Saturday in Frankfurt, Germany, will now vie for the vacant regular belt.