THE WBC are guilty of tying themselves in knots regarding tonight’s Vasiliy Lomachenko-Teofimo Lopez showdown.
The contest is officially for Lomachenko’s WBA and WBO titles and Lopez’s IBF belt. Yet the WBC are adamant that all four versions of the lightweight title are on the line because Lomachenko is their world champion in the weight class. Lomachenko, though, is listed in the WBC ratings as the ‘franchise’ champion.
Who’d have thought that introducing a ‘franchise’ championship could lead to such (needless and avoidable) confusion?
It raises the question of what title Devin Haney – last year upgraded from ‘interim’ champion to ‘world’ champion – really holds and what the WBC are hoping to achieve with the franchise championship.
Last November, Haney beat Alfredo Santiago in a fight which was advertised as being a defence of the WBC world title. If Haney is not their world champion, and Lomachenko is, why did the WBC allow Devin’s victory over Santiago to be advertised as a world title fight?
The hypocrisy of designating Lomachenko as WBC ‘franchise’ champion is that Lomachenko has fought in 13 fights involving a WBO world title, 4 with a WBA title and just one WBC title fight. Strange, isn’t it, to pick as your franchise champion someone who in six years as a pro had never shown much interest in fighting for your title.
I could understand them designating Wanheng (Chayaphon Moonsri) who, during six years as WBC strawweight champion and through 12 title defences, has never fought for any other sanctioning body.
The franchise belt is not about loyalty, as the WBC have suggested – otherwise Lomachenko would not qualify – it is about profile and Lomachenko has the profile and Wanheng does not.
Soon, the WBC will have three active champions at lightweight. Lomachenko (presuming he beats Lopez), Haney (if he beats Yuriorkis Gamboa on November 7) and the winner of the Luke Campbell-Ryan Garcia bout which is for the ‘Interim’ title.
Does the WBC really need three champions in the same weight class?