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Denis Lebedev named champion-in-recess, Dorticos cleared to unify

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Lebedev’s title was not on the line against Gassiev because reasons

Denis Lebedev's Fight Against Youri 'El Toro' Kalenga In Moscow Photo Dmitry Korotaev/Kommersant Photo via Getty Images

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.

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.