Boxing News At Five

Boxing News at Five: What is a ‘franchise champion’ and why has the WBC made Canelo Alvarez one?

Canelo Alvarez next fight
Action Images/REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
In a baffling move the WBC make Jermall Charlo champion and Canelo Alvarez 'franchise' titlist. Terry Dooley tries to fathom it in today's Boxing News at Five

IF you read the blurb on any of the governing bodies websites they throw about words like “altruistic”, “charitable”, “hope”, “vision”, “ethics”, “good faith”, “efficiency”, and, without an ounce of irony, “uniformity”. Their rules and regulations also drip with the legalese, so it is a surprise that the word “shyster” doesn’t also appear on there somewhere. Shyster is said to stem from a German word for excrement, Scheisser, and was used in the New York Times to refer to unscrupulous lawyers and/or politicians. It perfectly sums up the top four governing bodies, who act as obstacles to the fights we want to see rather than facilitating them. 

It was mistakenly attributed as a riff on Shakespeare’s character of Shylock from The Merchant of Venice and there were attempts to mark it down as an anti-Semitic slur, which was probably the work of those shysters who felt it was too on the mark and should be consigned to the annals of history. 

The word is particularly applicable today given the WBC’s introduction of a “Legacy” title for Saul Alvarez and the subsequent elevation of interim titlist Jermall Charlo to “full” middleweight champion ahead of this weekend’s fight against Brandon Adams in Texas. 

Alvarez currently holds the IBF and WBA 160lb titles, so the WBC have decided to split their own title even further with the introduction of this spurious new belt. 

They stated that: ‘During its recent mid-year meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, the WBC Board of Governors approved rule 3.26 of the WBC Rules and Regulations, which creates the designation of WBC Franchise Champion. The Franchise Champion is a special designation and status which the WBC may bestow to a current WBC world champion, who is also an elite boxer, and who has achieved and maintains the highest of statures in the sport.

‘Under Rule 3.26, in its discretion, the WBC may, upon a 2/3rd vote of the Board of Governors, designate in each weight category one WBC Franchise Champion. A Franchise Champion shall enjoy special status with respect to his or her mandatory obligations, holding multiple titles and competing for titles of other organizations, as the WBC Board of Governors rules on a case-by-case basis.

‘The WBC is bestowing that honor upon champion Alvarez due to his many accomplishments which have positioned him as major worldwide attraction in boxing, and in light of his unquestionable boxing career linked to our organization. Canelo Alvarez has represented the WBC for 11 years with outstanding results in his professional career.’

Other benefits and responsibilities for the holder include Emeritus Champion status upon retirement, attendance at two “social responsibility events” per year, recognition of other WBC champions in the same division without diminishing the status of the “Franchise Champion”, and a Diamond Belt on the line when they fight. If they lose a contest, the winner does not automatically become the new “Franchise Champion” but, instead, ‘may be considered as mandatory contender of the division’. 

Now, we talked yesterday about the WBO enforcing their regulations in order to name Oleksandr Usyk as the mandatory challenger to the winner of Andy Ruiz Jr.’s rematch with Anthony Joshua. 

Whatever the rights and wrongs, their regulations created an argument for this move. At the time of writing, the WBC had not even bothered to update their online rules and had yet to insert clause 3.26, a clear sign that it is just another fly by night move from one of the organisations that claim to run our sport yet are running it into the ground.

In practical terms, and history supports this, it just adds to the idea that anyone who meets Alvarez for that green belt is going to face an uphill struggle should they take him the distance. 

“Legacy” is a gift that is passed down to someone, rather than being earned. In creating this belt for Alvarez the WBC are serving up a clear notice that they are not even going to pretend anymore when it comes to the Mexican. Who would have thought that when Riddick Bowe put his WBC title in the bin that he was predicting the future trajectory of their title and not just ducking Lennox Lewis. The bin is the best place for it.

Canelo Alvarez next fight
Canelo gets special treatment from the WBC Tom Hogan/Hogan photos/Golden Boy

In other news, the fallout from Joshua’s loss to Ruiz continues to drift through the division like toxic Chernobyl clouds. Some of Joshua’s Twitter and online fans are, quite frankly, operating on another planet to the rest of us and a few of them directed their anger towards his American sparring partner Joey Dawejko (19-7-4, 11 KOs) in the days following his first professional defeat.

Rumours started to circulate that Dawejko was the man who allegedly floored Joshua in sparring during the build-up to the fight, a rumour that he has refused to confirm, and the 29-year-old from Philadelphia has revealed that fans took to Instagram to hurl abuse and blame at him.

“I respect Anthony Joshua so much, I’m not going to talk about nothing, no sparring stories,” he said when speaking to Fight Hub TV. “I was never that type of fighter, I was in camp with a lot of people, a lot of heavyweight champions, I’ll never speak about sparring.

“That’s a boxing brotherhood thing. I’ll never talk about that. People are coming out on the internet saying that I said that. I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s annoying. I was getting death threats and everything on my Instagram for that! It is what it is. I don’t talk about sparring stories.”

Anthony Joshua
Had something gone wrong in Anthony Joshua’s training camp before the Ruiz fight Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

Area titles mean so much to the fighters who contest them. We sometimes forget that the first step on the road to contention comes after you have netted one of the Board’s regional belts. Nathan Heaney beat Tom Stokes by a margin of 96-94 for the Midlands middleweight Area title in what is said to have been a small hall thriller last weekend and the 30-year-old summed up what it means to win a regional title when talking to the Birmingham Evening Mail.

“Last night I finally made some local history and became the first person from Stoke-on-Trent to ever win a professional middleweight Midlands area title,” stated Heaney. “I faced a tough opponent who gave me problems that I didn’t expect, but I dug deep and did what needed to do.”

It was his seventh straight win, with two coming by stoppage, and although the title is not as widely-known as the WBC’s many belts, it is a nice building block for a budding professional and will hopefully lead to bigger and better things for the 30-year-old.

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  • The organisation and management of modern boxing is a joke. The amateur game was at risk of being kicked out of the Olympics because of corruption. The professional game is just as bad. The governing bodies must realise that they are a laughing stock but they don’t care as they sit back and count the cash. I’m not naïve enough to think that things were always better in the old days, but surely we are at an all time low. The sport still produces boxers that can mesmerize us and clamour to see them, like Lomachenko, but it is harder and harder to be a fan. Will we ever see Crawford v Spence? Possibly not. Tyson Fury’s next opponent is likely to be Jarrell “Big Cheat” Miller, whose marketability will have risen thanks to his new notoriety and pathetic virtually non-existent ban. I know I’m not saying anything new here, but I really do despair at the state of affairs. I’ve been reading Boxing News since it cost 65p and even as I write this I realise that I sound like an old man reminiscing about the good old days, but more and more I take greater pleasure from reading books on boxing history than reading about a fighter signing an exclusive deal with a TV station, meaning they won’t be fighting most of the good fighters in their division.
    As a footnote, I watched a recent BT Sport Saturday night boxing show. The first two hours were taken up with a three fight novice and a fighter in the second fight boxing virtually one handed because of an injury he took into the fight. Is there no quality control anymore? Do BT Sport think that is the kind of entertainment likely to win over casual Saturday night sports fans?

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