IN an attempt to unpick the increasingly tangled mess in the heavyweight division, WBA President, Gilberto Mendoza has announced the formation of a seven-man tournament to determine a singular champion for just this one sanctioning body at heavyweight, beginning on one side with the March 5 encounter between ‘regular’ titlist Ruslan Chagaev, 34-2-1 (21), and Australian contender Lucas Browne, 23-0 (20). The winner of that fight must then face WBA #6, Fres Oquendo, 37-8 (24), who pulled out injured ahead of a Chagaev rematch back in October, and who has a US court order in place securing his shot.
On the other side of this melting pot are new Super champion, Tyson Fury, 25-0 (18), and veteran former titlist Wladimir Klitschko, 64-4 (53), who will rematch in the summer, with a date in May being mooted. The winner of that fight must then face whomever emerges victorious from the clash between unbeaten ‘Interim’ titlist, Luis Ortiz, 24-0 (21) and 39 year-old Belarusian fringe contender, Alexander Ustinov, 33-1 (24), whose respective camps are currently negotiating terms. In short, the plan is for the last man standing from both halves of the mix to eventually square off and determine the new, singular champion.
“We have currently, three world champions. Tyson Fury as super champion, Ruslan Chagaev as regular champion, and Luis Ortiz as the interim champion,” Mendoza explained. “We are going to have only one champion, as everybody expects.”
It wouldn’t be the first time the sanctioning body has used a heavyweight tournament format to settle their issues. Back in 1967-68, an eight-man tournament was ordered to find a new WBA champion in the wake of Muhammad Ali being stripped of his title for refusing induction into the US army. Featuring the likes of the great Floyd Patterson and Jerry Quarry, it was eventually won by pre-tournament underdog, Jimmy Ellis.