Despite Kovalev-Braehmer order, WBA won't stand in way of Ward fight

The WBA has ordered light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev to defend his title against Juergen Braehmer but won't stand in the way of an Andre Ward fight first. Ed Diller for ESPN

As the WBA continues its well-received plan to reduce the number of world titles it sanctions in each weight division -- which has often been three (super, regular and interim belts) -- it ordered another mandatory fight between a super titleholder and a regular one to get rid of another belt.

On Wednesday, it ordered Los Angeles-based Russian Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs), the best light heavyweight on the planet, to face regular titlist Juergen Braehmer (48-2, 35 KOs) of Germany.

According to the WBA memo, "WBA rules entitle the WBA president and the championship committee at their discretion to define a mandatory period. Sergey Kovalev's super champion status was conditioned to an 18-month mandatory defense period. Due to the fact that this period is past due since May 7, 2016, his next opponent must be the certified official contender, Juergen Braehmer."

They have until Aug. 19 to make a deal or a purse bid will be ordered. But not so fast.

Based on the ruling that would seem to make it impossible for Kovalev, who owns three major belts, to keep the WBA's version because he is already under contract to face Andre Ward on Nov. 19 in Las Vegas in the main event of an HBO PPV card. Fortunately, the WBA is not going to stand in the way of the fight or Kovalev continuing to toward his goal of winning all four major belts.

The WBA would just like a courtesy, WBA president Gilberto Mendoza Jr. told ESPN.com.

He said his organization "will not oppose any significant fight for the sport."

But he was also not happy that nobody involved in Kovalev-Ward has gone though the process of getting it approved as a WBA title bout, although Ward has to beat Alexander Brand on Aug. 6 before Kovalev-Ward is official.

"It has become a custom to announce championship bouts without the formal approval process," Mendoza said. "Actually, it happened with the [Gennady Golovkin] vs. [Kell] Brook fight -- not even the courtesy to check with the new chairman of WBA championship committee. For this specific case, once Kovalev or Ward's promoters request the bout, it shall be approved by special permit with conditions to be fulfilled -- like the winner boxing Braehmer."