In a transparent, boldly biased, and rather pathetic move, the WBC has chosen to sanction a junior welterweight title fight between Erik Morales and Jorge Barrios on the September 17 Mayweather vs Ortiz pay-per-view undercard.
Let's count the ways that this sucks and not pretend that it doesn't.
First off, Timothy Bradley held the title. Fine, nobody likes Tim Bradley right now. But he was within his mandatory period. He just won the belt in January when he beat Devon Alexander. By the WBC's rules, there is no valid reason to strip Bradley of the belt right now. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Q: Why is the WBC stripping Timothy Bradley?
A: Because it benefits Erik Morales.
I hate to say this about Erik Morales, because I love him as a fighter. He's one of my absolute favorite fighters ever. And he still fights hard when he gets in the ring, and he's proven that his comeback wasn't quite as ill-advised as we all thought. He's a true boxing warrior. We all love Erik Morales.
But this is an obvious plot by the WBC to put their 140-pound belt on Morales, which would make him the first ever four-division "champion" in Mexican boxing history. It's cheap, it's obvious, and it sucks. Morales vs Barrios is a good fight, really. It should have plenty of action and be exciting, and might well steal the show on the card.
Here's the reality, though: Morales is ranked No. 3 by the WBC. This is silly enough (they also have Humberto Soto automatically ranked No. 4), but let's go a bit deeper. Let's talk about Barrios. He's never fought at 140 pounds. Ever. Not even once. And he's not a WBC "champion" moving up, either. He's not even ranked at 135 pounds -- not in their top 40. We're talking about a rankings list that includes the likes of Humberto Toledo, Dejan Zlaticanin, Logan McGuinness, and others.
I'm not intending to dump on those fighters, but what I'm saying is that obviously it's not exactly hard to be ranked by the WBC in a top 40, and frankly it's not THAT hard to get ranked in a legitimate, unbiased top 40 in any division either. Barrios, for the record, is definitely one of the 40 top lightweights in the world. Top 20, even, arguably top 15. But we're not dealing with unbiased rankings. We're dealing with the WBC's rankings.
But he has never fought at 140, and he has no business fighting for a vacant title. It does not add up. This is pure, unfiltered bias from the WBC, and anyone can see it. If Morales wins, the WBC and Golden Boy and probably HBO will celebrate and go nuts, but it will be an empty fourth title, and it will diminish what should have been a momentous moment, even in an era of useless title belts that are thrown around willy nilly.
And if the WBC weren't showing bias here, and they decided to wrongly strip Timothy Bradley of the belt anyway, the fight that should be for the vacant title is the already-scheduled eliminator on September 30 between Ali Chebah and Ajose Olusegun. I said all of this yesterday, but it's worth repeating. And certainly, this is all just my opinion. You are free to disagree if you wish, and praise Morales vs Barrios as a great title fight, and that's fine, I guess, but I just can't get on board with this. It even lessens my excitement for what IS, again, a GOOD FIGHT that should be fun to watch. Because they've tacked on this belt and will completely ignore that it's an obvious, cheap tactic to crown Erik Morales. If anyone deserves to be cheaply crowned, sure, it's someone like Erik Morales.
But I don't think he deserves the backlash that this news will bring from people who know what it really is, either. This is criticism that should be directed at the WBC. All Morales and Golden Boy did was take advantage.