Thursday, March 23, 2023  |


WBC names mandatory challengers in each division


The World Boxing Council’s 52nd annual convention took place over the past week in Las Vegas, and one of the key topics of conversation was how to sort out the various title challengers going forward.

Some of the big questions surrounded the heavyweight division, as it appears mandatory challenger Bryant Jennings could pass up the opportunity to face next month’s Bermane Stiverne-Deontay Wilder winner and instead fight Wladimir Klitschko for the RING, WBA, IBF and WBO titles. Also on the agenda was Floyd Mayweather Jr., who holds WBC titles at both junior middleweight and welterweight.

Here are the mandatory challengers in the 17 weight classes:

Heavyweight – Current titleholder Bermane Stiverne will face Deontay Wilder on Jan. 17 in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand. The winner will face his next mandatory challenger. Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions proposed a fight between Alexander Povetkin and Mike Perez to be a final eliminator.

Cruiserweight – Grigory Drozd beat Krzyzstof Wlodarczyk in September. It had been rumored that Drozd would defend his title on Mar. 28. However, Leon Margules, who represents Wlodarczyk, said that talks were taking place for a rematch to take place in May. Thabiso Mchunu and Illunga Makabu will meet in a final eliminator; there will be a free negotiation period and purse bid if necessary. Current No. 1 contender Rakhim Chakhkiev informed the WBC he didn’t wish to participate in a title eliminator.

Light heavyweightRING and WBC champion Adonis Stevenson will face Dmitry Sukhotsky this Friday. In a very interesting move, Kathy Duva of Main Events moved for the winner of Sergey Kovalev-Jean Pascal, after facing the IBF mandatory Nadjib Mohammedi in the summer, to become the mandatory challenger to the Stevenson-Sukhotsky winner. Meaning if all the stars align (When do they ever in boxing?) we could see Stevenson-Kovalev with all the titles on the line in the second half of 2015. Duva proposed a 50-50 purse bid; it was challenged by Margules, who said as Stevenson wasn’t there to represent himself perhaps the purse split could be decided on at a later date. The WBC decided that unless there are exceptional circumstances, i.e. one of them losing, that a 50-50 split was fair.

Super middleweight – Anthony Dirrell is due to make an optional defense in February; the winner must face George Groves next.

Middleweight – Miguel Cotto will fight in May (rumored to be against Canelo Alvarez). Interim champion Gennady Golovkin will face Martin Murray on Feb. 21 in Monte Carlo. The winners are mandated to meet with the purse split to be decided at a later date.

Junior middleweight – It was decided that Floyd Mayweather Jr., who holds titles at 154 and 147, is an exceptional circumstance. Mauricio Sulaim├ín said no mandatories would be announced and that he wanted to allow every opportunity and openly encourage Mayweather to fight Manny Pacquaio. Promoter Sampson Lewkowicz made a motion for a box-off between eight fighters, with the winners to meet until one remains. This would take over a year and provide either a worthy mandatory for Mayweather or a successor in the event that Mayweather is then retired.

WelterweightSame as above.

Junior welterweight – No. 1 contender Viktor Postol accepted a step-aside fee to allow Danny Garcia to make a voluntary defense.

Lightweight – Omar Figueroa is the champion-in-recess because of injuries suffered in his last fight which will keep him out of the ring for over six months. In light of Figueroa’s absence, Jorge Linares and Javier Prieto will meet on Dec. 30 in Japan for the vacant title. The Linares-Prieto winner will fight Figueroa when he returns. It was decided that the winner would have to make two mandatory defenses, first against the winner of Dejan Zlaticanin and Henry Lundy, and then the winner of a second eliminator between Daniel Estrada and Kevin Mitchell on Jan. 31.

Junior lightweight – Takashi Miura is in a voluntary period. Lewkowicz said an agreement is in place for his fighter, Javier Fortuna, to face Stephen Smith in March in New York. The winner will fill the No. 1 position.

Featherweight – Jhonny Gonzalez has two mandatory defenses because it is two years since the last featherweight mandatory. On Jan. 6, Rocky Juarez will meet Robinson Castellanos, with the winner becoming the first mandatory challenger to Gonzalez. Marvin Sonsona and Jayson Velez will meet to decide the second mandatory. No. 1 contender Abner Mares has not confirmed his status with regard to his intentions.

Junior featherweight – Leo Santa Cruz is currently free of any mandatory obligations, however, Andres Gutierrez and Hugo Ruiz will square off on March 14 to fill the mandatory position. A fight for the “Silver” title was requested for Kid Galahad of the U.K. vs. Qiu Xiao Jun of China.

Bantamweight – Shinsuke Yamanaka defeated mandatory challenger Suriyan Sor Rungvisai in an excellent fight in October. Yamanaka was approved to make a voluntary defense in his next fight. Thai promoter Thainchai Pisitwuttinan proposed that No. 1 Zhanat Zhakiyanov face his fighter, No. 2-ranked Suriyan. Philippe Fondu, who represents Zhakiyanov said that because the mandatory is so far off and currently they have other plans for Zhakiyanov, they’d like to go their own way for now. This will be re-evaluated in June.

Junior bantamweight – Carlos Cuadras has an agreement to face Luis Concepcion. Pisitwuttinan proposed that his fighter, No. 1 Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, become the mandatory challenger, pointing out that Srisaket was the champion and lost the title in a close fight that was stopped due to a head clash. The board decided that Srisaket should face Mexico’s Jose Salgado (who fought to a draw against Cuadras in September when their fight was curtailed early due to a head clash) to decide the mandatory to Cuadras.

Flyweight – Roman Gonzalez can make a voluntary defense. No. 1 Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai will meet No. 2 Edgar Sosa in a final eliminator to decide Gonzalez‘s mandatory challenger.

Junior flyweight – Naoya Inoue won the WBC title earlier this year but because of trouble making 108 is headed to 115 where he’ll challenge WBO kingpin Omar Narvaez on Dec. 30. The vacant title will be contested between Pedro Guevara and Akira Yaegashi on Dec. 30. in Japan. Jonathan Inguito Taconing will face either Ganigan Lopez or Adrian Hernandez to decide the next mandatory challenger.

Strawweight – Wanheng Menayothin unseated Osvaldo Novoa last month to become the champion. The Thai fighter had been the mandatory challenger and so has a voluntary period before facing the winner of Carlos Ortega vs. Denver Cuello.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected]and you can follow him at