The WBC Franchise Title Will No Longer Be An Issue Going Into 2023
On December 3, Juan Francisco Estrada won the trilogy with rival Roman Gonzalez to capture the vacant WBC title. He then gave the boxing community an early Christmas gift by effectively ending the outrageous, illegitimate, and confusing run of the Franchise belt. This hopefully closes the saga of one of the biggest headaches birthed by WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman.
Estrada was the last holder of this ridiculous title and is now the WBC champion, rendering the belt obsolete. In June 2019, WBC president Sulaiman rolled out the belt by making then-unified middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez the inaugural Franchise champion. The second fighter to receive the title was unified lightweight champion Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko. Numerous boxing fans saw the title as path to help both fighters avoid fighting mandatory challengers Jermall Charlo and Devin Haney, respectively.
The Franchise title was not initially a belt. Sulaiman originally introduced it as a nontransferable designation. However, he later admitted to being confused about the title’s purpose. Nonetheless, the WBC President muddied the waters even more by creating a Franchise belt that was magically now transferable. This change granted fans the infamous false undisputed narrative featuring Teofimo Lopez. The IBF champion at the time, Lopez would have his unification match with Lomachenko labeled an undisputed championship bout by Sulaiman. This false narrative ran all over the sport of boxing like a killer virus while causing the most ludicrous arguments. In addition, none of the other sanctioning bodies recognized the franchise title as a legitimate belt.
R.I.P TO THE FRANCHISE TITLE
Over the next couple of years, the problematic belt was slowly phased out. In 2020, Alvarez began his run toward the undisputed super middleweight crown. This ended any talks of the belt at middleweight. In 2022, Haney was finally able to render the belt irrelevant after defeating George Kambosos Jr for the legitimate undisputed crown. Then, as previously stated, Estrada put the final nail in the coffin by winning the trilogy against Gonzalez.
Fortunately, women’s boxing was spared this headache as the Franchise belt never made crossed into their waters. Going into 2023, boxing pundits hope the Franchise belt remains dead and buried. Fans can only hope the WBC has realized their error and does not try to resurrect it for any reason.
By: Bo Bland