Yesterday, the WBC ordered a heavyweight title eliminator between Odlanier Solis and Nicolai Valuev. Even though Ray Austin purportedly already won an eliminator, according to the WBC's press release, he was bypassed because of Austin's "unavailability." If the two do not negotiate a fight, then a purse bid will take place on April 30.
Frankly, it seems unlikely that this fight would actually happen. Valuev is still sitting on a rematch clause with David Haye, and while their first fight was a stinker, Valuev probably stands to make significantly more by fighting Haye again than he does in fighting Solis, and his chances of winning probably aren't much better against Solis.
Ray Austin's attorneys are threatening to sue the WBC for their action. While this is usually pretty standard stuff that's not worth reporting, this case is a little more interesting. From Austin's attorneys, via Boxing Scene:
Ray Austin is ready, willing and able to fight in the next elimination bout. The WBC decision to announce the title eliminator between Solis and Valued merely because of Ray Austin filing bankruptcy and rejecting his personal management and promotional agreement with Don King Productions is clearly a violation of Ray's rights under federal bankruptcy law, and we intend to file a complaint in the United States Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Ohio against the WBC for violating the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code.
If Jose Sulaiman wants another debacle like Graciano Rocchigiani, he is well on his way.
Usually this is just a pretense for a fighter to maintain a ranking or be named a mandatory, but with the names involved, this one is more interesting. For years now, it's been alleged that Don King has the WBC in his back pocket. With Austin trying to avoid his contract with Don King, suddenly the WBC passes Austin over in order to give the shot to Valuev, another fighter co-promoted by Don King. Something smells much fishier than usual with this one.
Frankly, I hope the WBC stays on the path that it's on. As referenced by the lawyers, the WBC was nearly bankrupted a decade ago when it lost a lawsuit to Graciano Rocchigiani, who the WBC stripped for no reason before basically gifting the belt to Roy Jones. The only reason the WBC is still around is because Rocchigiani settled with the WBC after his judgment sent them into bankruptcy. And of course, Sulaiman, who perpetrated all of this, was rewarded by being named dictator for life of the WBC.
It looks like Austin may have a pretty strong case here, and if this case were to make it to discovery, it would air a lot of the WBC's dirty laundry that they probably don't want out there. For this reason, it will probably settle quietly, with the end result being that Austin gets the next mandatory or something like that, but one can dream that it might move forward and eventually put the WBC out of commission.