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Pirog vs Geale Unification Meets Resistance From WBO

Dmitry Pirog may fight Daniel Geale later this year, but the WBO has not signed off on a unification bout. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Dmitry Pirog may fight Daniel Geale later this year, but the WBO has not signed off on a unification bout. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Those hoping for a middleweight title unification later this year between WBO titlist Dmitry Pirog and IBF beltholder Daniel Geale may not get what they want, as reports that the WBO hasn't approved the idea, and that Pirog will be obligated to face his mandatory challenger within 90 days of May 4.

Pirog (20-0, 15 KO) and Geale (27-1, 15 KO) have had talks with HBO about staging the fight in late summer or early fall, with the network needing to create known challengers for the likes of Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, one of whom (Martinez) is the legitimate champion of the world, and the other (Chavez) the division's cash cow in the HBO world. (Felix Sturm probably makes a good bit more money than anyone else in the division, since he promotes himself, so you could say he's the true cash cow, but he's just another foreign middleweight to much of the HBO audience.)

Pirog fought yesterday in Moscow, outpointing Nobuhiro Ishida in what most hoped was a final tune-up. Geale fought last on March 7, beating Osumanu Adama by decision in Australia.

The fight would be good for both fighters, would be good for the division, and would be good for boxing fans, but the WBO doesn't really care about any of that. They have an eliminator set on Friday pitting Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam against Max Bursak, and unless they surprise some folks and sign off on letting Pirog skip his mandatory and unify with Geale, he's going to have to fight the winner this summer.

The reality is that sanctioning bodies hate unification. You may never again see a truly unified champion, a man who holds all four recognized titles in a division (WBC, IBF, WBA, WBO), because they don't want that to happen. Maybe in the case of someone like Mayweather or Pacquiao, it could happen, but Mayweather doesn't really care about anything but the WBC, and if they both hold belts in the same division, well, you're not getting any unification because they won't fight anyway.

If Vitali Klitschko retired tomorrow, perhaps Wladimir would get a crack at the WBC belt. He holds the WBA, WBO and IBF titles. Again, Wladimir Klitschko is a special case.

Guys like Pirog and Geale are not special cases. Neither was Timothy Bradley, neither was Chad Dawson. These are guys who have given up or been stripped of titles for various reasons involving unification or the attempt to unify, or the desire to unify, or just because. Sanctioning bodies get nothing out of unification and it doesn't benefit them to behave as though another organization's title is important.

If the WBO does block it, I'd like to hope that Pirog and his team would give up the belt and take the risk against Geale anyway, for Geale's IBF title. But it's hard to see that happening. The title belt is currently Pirog's biggest negotiating piece, and they may be loathe to give it up for a fight with Daniel Geale.

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