They really had us going for a second.
The WBA, whom I’d considered the second-most-vile sanctioning body due to the fact that the WBC does most of the stuff they do but with an added air of intolerable smugness, seemed to be turning things around after last year’s Mykal Fox vs Gabriel Maestre debacle had the entire boxing world baying for their blood. This past weekend proved otherwise.
The first and most obvious example was Daniel Dubois’ summary execution of Trevor Bryan for the latter’s heavyweight title. As a reminder, Bryan got the interim belt by beating BJ Flores in a vacant title fight, which he’d “earned” a spot in by beating two opponents with a combined 4-44 record. He then failed to defend the title for over two years as the WBA allowed Don King to repeatedly screw over Mahmoud Charr, and even when King’s insistence on denying Charr a visa in order to avoid paying the ludicrous sums he’d bid became obvious, the WBA elected to strip Charr instead.
The fight for Charr’s now-vacant title? Bryan vs Bermane Stiverne, whom the WBA claimed “[met] the requirements to fight for the championship” despite being winless in over five years. Then came Jonathan Guidry, who appeared in the WBA’s top 15 despite not having fought since the previous August.
Bryan was a walking indictment of the WBA’s incompetence and corruption, but Gilberto Mendoza and Co. made sure to sprinkle his long-overdue culling with reminders that they’re blights on the sport, namely a pair of familiar faces in the judges’ seats. One was Carlos Sucre, whom you may recall from the time he gave incumbent super flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada nine rounds in “El Gallo’s” rematch with Chocolatito Gonzalez.
The other was Gloria Martinez Rizzo, who not only gave the aforementioned Mykal Fox two rounds in a fight where virtually all observers gave him a minimum of eight, but turned out to be both married to a WBA executive and Measurehead levels of racist.
And just when you thought they were done, they tacked on a fun little dessert on Sunday. You’ll remember that after they stripped Josh Taylor, a move that the WBC came they made despite the relevant parties agreeing beforehand that Jose Zepeda was next in the rotation, they called up their top six 140 lbers to plead their cases on who should get a shot at the vacant belt.
The obvious move would be to have former interim champ Alberto Puello and “gold” champ Ismael Barroso, their No. 1 and No. 2 fighters, duke it out. Instead, they ordered Puello to face No. 6 Batyr Akhmedov with the caveat that whoever wins that fight Barroso.
Though they’ve made tangible progress in cleaning up their act, last weekend proved that Mendoza and his cronies are incompetent at best and maliciously corrupt at worst. They should be treated with the utmost disdain.
The fun fact about sanctioning bodies is that they literally only have what power we give them. If the boxing public decided that the WBA belt was worthless and fighters stopped paying sanctioning fees, there’s jack-all the organization could do about it. Just something to consider.