One of the weirder bits of sanctioning body shenanigans occurred in 2016 when, for whatever reason, Denis Lebedev was permitted to only put his IBF belt on the line against Murat Gassiev, allowing him to keep his WBA “Super” title despite the loss. The situation has now been somewhat rectified, as the WBA has elected to name Lebedev “Champion-in-Recess” and give regular champ Yunier Dorticos the go-ahead to unify.
Cruiserweights situation— WBA Boxing (@WBABoxing) February 1, 2018
The WBA granted a special permit to Yunier Dorticos, current champion, to unify his belt against Murat Gassiev, IBF champion, on Feb-3. Meanwhile, Denis Lebedev, WBA Super Champion, was declared as champion “in recess”.
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This means that, barring any further shenanigans, the winner of the World Boxing Super Series will become the undisputed unified cruiserweight champion. Previous unified champions Evander Holyfield and O’Neill Bell held the IBF, WBA, and WBC titles simultaneously, but this tournament also features the WBO belt.
Lebedev (30-2, 22 KO) was last seen dominating Mark Flanagan in July, his first fight since his split decision loss to Gassiev. He acquiesced to this ruling, but will have first crack at the tournament winner should they elect to hold on to the WBA belt. I’d be more than happy to see him fight Usyk, Dorticos, or Gassiev (again), so no complaints here.