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Devin Haney: Teofimo Lopez is the “first undisputed asterisk champion”

Let’s talk about lightweight title belts again, because nobody can get enough.

Devin Haney Media Workout Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

Teofimo Lopez is riding a major high right now, and should be, as the 23-year-old went from rising star to bona fide star with Saturday’s upset win over Vasiliy Lomachenko. If you believe the ESPN and Top Rank promotional material, the fight made Lopez that undisputed lightweight champion.

But if you want to be real about it, which I note many of you do not, no, Lopez is not undisputed champion at 135. There is a dispute, and it’s that Devin Haney is actually the WBC titleholder at lightweight, while Lopez holds their “franchise title” with his win over Lomachenko, who was not the WBC titlist.

Haney (21-0, 15 KO) was quick to point this out, too:

It’s a fine and fair enough shot back from Haney to Lopez, who has often called Haney the “two-time email champion of the world,” which in itself is fair enough. The WBC lightweight situation has been a mess for years now. If you’re not familiar with all the ins and outs of it, let’s run it down in short fashion:

  • Mikey Garcia won the belt from Dejan Zlaticanin in Jan. 2017. Garcia then had two fights at 140 pounds, but was not stripped by the WBC. He came back down in weight and unified with the IBF title in July 2018 by beating Robert Easter Jr, then jumped up to welterweight. Garcia vacated the WBC lightweight title in 2019.
  • Despite the fact that titleholders from other sanctioning bodies are not ranked by the WBC, Top Rank managed to get Vasiliy Lomachenko, who already held the WBA and WBO titles, a vacant WBC title fight with Luke Campbell. Lomachenko beat Campbell in Aug. 2019 to unify, briefly, those three titles.
  • Less than two months later, Lomachenko willingly gave up the WBC belt in order to be moved into the WBC’s newly-created “franchise champion” designation, which to date they’ve only done for Canelo Alvarez at 160 and Lomachenko at 135. The “franchise” tag means that the “champion” has no mandatory obligations, as the belt cannot be won or lost in the ring. Except then the WBC changed their mind about that last part, “sanctioning” Lomachenko-Lopez with the WBC “franchise” belt at stake, probably because they were a little envious of the WBA, WBO, and IBF all getting some money out of the fight while they would not.
  • Meanwhile, Devin Haney was promoted from interim WBC champion to full champion status. Haney had won the interim status by beating Zaur Abdullaev in Sept. 2019, two weeks after Lomachenko beat Campbell. He made a successful defense of the full title which everyone agreed was a full title fight in Nov. 2019, but he suffered an injury and was thought to be on the shelf for about six months.
  • Because of the injury, Haney was moved to “champion-in-recess,” and the WBC sanctioned a title fight between Luke Campbell and Javier Fortuna. Then COVID came. Campbell-Fortuna did not happen. Haney was reinstated as champion for a title he’d never lost, and in some ways, some might argue he never won, but nobody considered Lomachenko the WBC champion after Oct. 2019, because Lomachenko quite willingly gave that title up. And Lopez is not WBC champion now, either, no matter what Joe Tessitore told you on Saturday. (No offense meant to Tessitore personally, he was just doing his job, and I really don’t consider this as serious a matter as it might seem like I do.)

Anyway, bottom line is that yes, this is all a fucking mess, and welcome to boxing! It’s fun to keep track of these things, I tell ya what.

At any rate, yes, there’s a dispute, so let’s settle it, get Lopez and Haney in the ring. Haney was quick to throw that idea out after Lopez upset Lomachenko, and it’s a good fight between two young guys who think they’re destined for superstardom. One of them just proved he’s definitely on that track. The other one will fight a faded Yuriorkis Gamboa on Nov. 7.

Oh, and Ryan Garcia will fight Luke Campbell on Dec. 5 for an interim WBC title that has no reason to exist. You know, just in case this all wasn’t enough of an idiot puzzle.

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