Floyd Mayweather Jr. celebrates with WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman and the WBC Money Belt after Mayweather stopped debuting MMA fighter Conor McGregor in their boxing match on August 26, 2017 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The unfortunate trend of accomplished veterans and contenders exiting The Ring rankings due to inactivity continues.
However, before we get to that, allow your favorite Editor-In-Chief to respond to the brief but viral anti-Ring Magazine tirade spewed by WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman last week.
Replying to a question about The Ring’s decision not to put its vacant flyweight championship on the line for the Sunny Edwards–Jesse Rodriguez IBF-WBO title unification bout, Sulaiman said the following:
“I don’t know why media, champions and promoters give any credit to a Ring magazine belt that only threatens the credibility of the sport,” Sulaiman told iFL TV during an interview last Thursday at the sanctioning organization’s convention in Uzbekistan.
“They are a business. They make money. They are biased.”
Shots fired, but I’m not going to shoot back with intent to kill by delving into all the sorted details of the many decades of his organization’s shenanigans and chicanery. A) I don’t have the time or space in this column (it would literally take weeks and a multi-part series to cover it all), and B) hordes of fans have already done that on social media and the comment sections under the articles on his recent hissy fit.
I’ll just say this:
The president of the sanctioning organization that proudly attaches its belt and its brand to pseudo-boxing events and exhibitions like Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr., Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. John Gotti III, and Tyson Fury vs. Francis Ngannou should never mention the word “credibility,” let alone accuse others of threatening the credibility of a sport considered renegade before my grandfather was alive.
The guy in charge of the sanctioning organization that proudly put out a press release stating that Jake Paul would join its cruiserweight rankings if the content creator-turned-boxer defeated unaccomplished prospect Tommy Fury this past February should not talk about credibility or accuse others of being “biased businesses.”
I have nothing against Paul, in fact he impresses me, but the young man had six pro fights prior to facing Fury – those bouts were vs. an influencer, a former NBA player and three faded MMA veterans. Fury had eight pro bouts vs. rank journeymen. Paul-Fury was an eight-rounder.
Attaching WBC belts and the WBC brand to crossover stars like the Paul brothers and KSI (and their events) has everything to do with business (money and exposure), and very little to do with sport. Sulaiman’s organization has a rich (pun intended) history of showing favoritism to the more popular, revenue-driving fighters of the sport, regardless of their levels.
The WBC’s decision to bring Ngannou (0-1) in at No. 10 in their heavyweight rankings over far-more qualified contenders, such as Filip Hrgovic or Zhilei Zhang, has very little to do with sport, very much to do with business, and the choice is obviously biased in favor of the hot name with big-event/crossover appeal.
To say otherwise is a slap in the face to intelligent boxing fans and media.
We know why Sulaiman insists on allowing Jermall Charlo to keep the WBC middleweight title even though the unbeaten Texan hasn’t defended it in 40 months. It has very little to do with Charlo’s mental health, and very much to do with keeping Charlo’s adviser, PBC boss Al Haymon, happy.
Meanwhile, an honest hard-working contender like Carlos Adames (No. 2 in The Ring rankings) has had to settle for holding the WBC’s interim title for more than a year. Mind you, Adames paid a sanctioning fee to fight in a tough 10-round title elimination bout vs. Sergiy Derevyanchneko in 2021. He paid a sanctioning fee to fight for and win the WBC interim title with a third-round KO of undeserving (but guess where he’s from?) Juan Macias Montiel last October. He paid a sanctioning fee in defense of the interim belt with a hard-fought ninth-round stoppage of Julian Williams in June.
Why isn’t Adames the full WBC champion by now? The answer is clear to anyone with a brain. He’s not the PBC’s favored son, so he’s not the WBC’s favored fighter. Hey, it’s good for business to keep Haymon happy.
A similar situation played out at heavyweight during the years prior to the pandemic, when Dillian Whyte had to settle with being the WBC silver beltholder for more than a year – paying the sanctioning fees for four “title bouts” – all with the promise of facing then-WBC champ Deontay Wilder. Even after winning the WBC interim belt in 2019 – mind you, Wilder was healthy and active during this time – Whyte had to wait for his shot (and was passed over in favor of Dominic Breazeale, who had won a WBC elimination bout just one fight removed from getting thumped by Anthony Joshua).
While Whyte is not as honest and hard-working as Adames, it wasn’t fair what the WBC did to him. (Did I mention that the brash Brit also held their “international title” in late 2016? More sanctioning fees! – LOL.) The bottom line is that, at this time, Wilder was a PBC favorite son and Haymon didn’t want to deal with Eddie Hearn or risk his unbeaten American KO artist against Whyte, so the WBC didn’t force a title shot until Fury held their belt.
So, going back to Sulaiman’s question about why fighters, media and promoters give The Ring’s rankings and championships credit and respect. The reason is because this publication’s rankings are based on fighters’ merit; not on who promotes/manages/advises/broadcasts them, or how famous they are, or how much money they generate, or the nations they represent.
I understand why Edwards is upset about The Ring flyweight championship not being on the line for his December 16 showdown with “Bam.” He had to EARN his No. 1 rating by defeating then-IBF beltholder Moruti Mthalane, prospects Jayson Mama and Muhammad Waseem, and formidable former 108-pound titleholder Felix Alvarado in succession.
Edwards didn’t break into and climb up The Ring’s flyweight rankings by fighting for and defending a bunch of “regional” Ring belts and secondary Ring world titles (that we charged him fees for).
Before I move on, I just want to state for the record that I have no problem with the WBC making money from sanctioning fees (and other fees involved with the organization’s “inspectors”). The boxing world knows the deal and the fighters and/or their representatives willing dole out their cash.
I have a problem with Sulaiman calling The Ring a business that threatens the credibility of the sport. My dude, when it’s “pay to play” to move up your rankings and to fight for your world titles (as it is with the other three major sanctioning organizations), your operation is clearly a business. And, again, I’m not mad at you for running a business. More belts equals more money. That’s good for your business, but that’s not good for the credibility of the sport.
Enough. For now.
Back to the rankings.
Editor’s Note: This update covers November 1-11. Don’t ask about Shakur Stevenson, Emanuel Navarrete, Robson Conceicao, Diego Pacheco, Nick Ball, etc. Those Ring-rated fighters are being discussed this week and their movement in the rankings will be detailed in the next Ratings Update article.
After November 4, the Ring Ratings Panel agreed to drop heavyweight Deontay Wilder, super middleweight Anthony Dirrell, junior middleweight Liam Smith, and bantamweight Gary Antonio Russell from the rankings due to inactivity in their respective weight classes (Smith would remain ranked at middleweight, where he has fought since last September).
Wilder (43-2-1, 42 KOs) had not fought since scoring a first-round KO of Robert Helenius last October. However, the same day senior editor Brian Harty removed Wilder from the rankings, veteran reporter Dan Rafael broke the news that the former WBC heavyweight beltholder would face Joseph Parker on a mammoth December 23 show in Saudi Arabia.
Noted Adam Abramowitz on the day of the official announcement: “In that the Wilder fight was announced today against Parker. I think we should reinstate Wilder in the rankings. He did have a fight lined up; it just hadn’t been announced officially.”
Replied Harty: “He was only out of the rankings for about 5 minutes. I was in the process of making the website list changes on Saturday when the rumor stories started to pop up, so Doug decided to hold off on dropping him.”
Not so for the others. Dirrell (43-3-2, 25 KOs), a former two-time WBC titleholder, has not fought since suffering a ninth-round KO to Caleb Plant last October.
Russell (19-1, 12 KOs) has not fought since dropping a 10-round technical decision to Emmanuel Rodriguez last October.
Smith (33-4-1, 20 KOs) has been active, but not in the 154-pound weight class, where he hasn’t fought since stopping Jessie Vargas in 10 rounds last April.
RING RATINGS UPDATE (as of November 11):
CRUISERWEIGHT – Noel Gevor Mikaelyan enters at No. 5 after scoring a third-round stoppage of Ilunga Makabu, who exits the rankings.
“Mikal Cieslak stopped Tommy McCarthy in seven rounds to retain his European title,” noted Anson Wainwright. “Very solid performance and is in the 11-15 range.:
SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT – Anthony Dirrell exits due to inactivity. Edgar Berlanga (21-0, 16 KOs) enters at No. 10.
Demetrius Andrade and William Scull were also considered.
“We can’t bring in Andrade with a straight face,” noted Tom Gray. “He’s had one fight at the weight against an undistinguished opponent in Demond Nicholson.
“Even though Berlanga has stopped taking guys out since he stepped up in class, I’d say he’s more deserving right now. He’s beaten Nicholson and some other decent fighters at the weight. The bottom half at 168 is shallow to say the least.
“Andrade will come in quick enough if he beats Benavidez.”
JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHT – Liam Smith exits due to inactivity. Serhii Bohachuk (23-1, 23 KOs) enters at No. 10.
LIGHTWEIGHT – Raymond Muratalla advances to No. 8 following an eighth-round stoppage of unbeaten Diego Torres.
JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHT – Joe Cordina remains at No. 4 following a tight majority decision over unrated-but-capable Edward Vazquez. Albert Bell remains at No. 10 after a second-round stoppage of faded veteran Jayson Velez.
“Jamel Herring stopped Nicholas Molina in one round,” noted Wainwright. “Still early but in the shake up waiting for a bigger opportunity next time out.”
JUNIOR FEATHERWEIGHT – TJ Doheny enters at No. 10 after stopping unbeaten prospect Japhethlee Llamido in the opening round.
BANTAMWEIGHT – Gary Antonio Russell exits due to inactivity. Daigo Higa (20-2-1, 18 KOs) enters at No. 10.
JUNIOR FLYWEIGHT – Adrian Curiel enters at No. 2 after scoring a KO-of-the-Year-candidate second-round stoppage of Sivenathi Nontshinga, who dropped to No. 4 and later No. 5. Elwin Soto advances to No. 4 (bumping Nontshinga to No. 5) following a 10-round decision over unrated Jose Ramirez Armenta.
“Nontshinga was stunningly knocked out by Curiel in two rounds,” noted Wainwright. “Coming in Curiel had four knockouts, so didn’t look a puncher; just goes to show never judge a book by its cover! Regie Suganob won a 12-round unanimous decision over Ronald Chacon to get back in the win column. Unfortunately for him, even with the win, he’s the guy to drop out.”
Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter and IG at @dougiefischer, and join him, Tom Loeffler, Coach Schwartz and friends via Tom’s or Doug’s IG Live most Sundays.