I SUPPOSE the transparency is admirable. Sanctioning bodies do, albeit with intermittent logic, strip champions of their belts. But they rarely do it the week of their world title fight. But the WBC have decided, a mere four days ahead of his defence against Saul Alvarez, to de-title Cotto.
That’s not the precise phrase, in their parlance the WBC “has withdrawn recognition of Miguel Cotto as the WBC middleweight world champion”. Although if Canelo wins on Saturday (November 21) he will, it turns out, be recognized as the WBC middleweight world champion. So far so unclear. According to the body’s statement Cotto has not followed the WBC’s rules and regulations and the specific conditions which applied to Cotto becoming their champion. We however are waiting for further details on what he’s done wrong.
Among general comments, the WBC says it “will not participate in the abuse of power and greediness”. Perhaps Cotto has simply declined to pay the sanctioning fee. He is a big name, this is a huge fight and perhaps the great Puerto Rican has decided this event doesn’t need the garnish of a world title (it is afterall at a catchweight rather than the 160lbs middleweight limit).
The WBC’s desire to force the winner to box their Interim titlist, and unified WBA and IBF king, Gennady Golovkin might be a factor. Earlier this year the WBC did make it clear that their middleweight champion ultimately would have to face “GGG”. It is however peculiar to start trying to enforce a mandatory obligation before the title fight has even taken place. Even Canelo, who presumably remains in their good graces, isn’t publicly looking past Cotto.
“I am 100% focused on this fight. My focus is winning this fight – it’s very important. Whatever happens after this fight, will happen after this fight, but this is my primary focus,” Alvarez said. “The only thing that I am focused on is Saturday night. Once this fight is over, we will determine which direction we will go.”
Far, far too often in boxing sanctioning bodies create confusion. The constant creation of Interim, Diamond and whatever else straps dilutes the value of the real title, as does allowing world title fights to be fought at catchweights (if middleweight is 160lbs then that’s where they should fight) and, whatever the dispute going on behind the scenes, surely the best time to resolve it is after the fight. The boxers, who are of course the principle actors here, really need to be focusing on the fight itself, and making the weight, over these four days.
These kind of shenanigans render the sanctioning body superfluous. It’s still a good fight, one to relish whether the victor ends up with a world crown or not.