The WBA is trying, it really is, to consolidate its titles in every division so that a clear champion exists.
But officials in the WBA’s Championships Committee couldn’t have made the following directive with a straight face: The WBA has ordered that faded heavyweights Shannon Briggs and Fres Oquendo, who are a combined 88 years old, fight for a vacant “regular” heavyweight title and have until Feb. 1 to make a deal or a purse bid will be held. The WBA also said the winner must face No 3-rated Alexander Ustinov, who hasn’t fought since December of 2015.
Briggs, who held a title in 2006, has fought a series of journeyman over the past few years. Yet, the 45-year-old is ranked No. 4 in the WBA’s heavyweight rankings. Oquendo, 43, hasn’t fought since 2014 when he lost a majority decision to titleholder Ruslan Chagaev and is ranked No. 5 in 2017. (Oquendo sued Chagaev for not giving him an immediate rematch as mandated in the contract and had shoulder surgery in 2015 and the WBA is giving him his title shot.)
The title is up for grabs because Lucas Browne, who beat Chagaev last March, was stripped of the belt after he tested positive for a banned substance. Chagaev was subsequently given his title back but lost it again after he failed to pay sanctioning fees to the WBA. Browne was supposed to face his mandatory Briggs but flunked another drug test. So here we are. Meanwhile, Wladimir Klitschko is fighting Anthony Joshua on April 29 for the “Super” WBA heavyweight championship.
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