Can We Scrap the Franchise Belt Yet?!
When the WBC decided to unveil their brand new ‘Franchise champion’ designation, they knew that it would be met with resistance. Most boxing fans remain fatigued with the excessive amount of titles that are already available.
Even now, hardly anyone gives any validity to the ostracized IBO title and that has been around since 1992. Not to mention the contempt held for the slew of ‘super’, interim and regular titles floating around.
So it was all the more mind-boggling that the WBC openly stated that the Franchise designation was not even an actual title, but merely a ‘concept’. To make matters worse, and wildly more confusing, those named as the Franchise champion could not win or lose the title in the ring. Instead, fighters would petition for the philosophical trinket and hold it for life. Naturally, fight fans pointed out the hypocrisy of a ‘championship’ belt that could not be won or lost.
In an effort to sugarcoat the overt lunacy of the unwanted title, the WBC chose to first award the belt to the wildly popular WBC super world middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KO’s). Unfortunately for the WBC, not even the star power of Canelo could mute the ridiculous nature of the Franchise belt. As a result, in interview after interview, WBC President Mauricio Sulaimán could only tell the fans and media to ‘give it time’.
MUDDYING THE WATERS
Well over a year in now, the belt make no more sense than before. Even worse, it actually has become more problematic. When the title was first released, it was said that it could not be won or lost in the ring. However, in the upcoming unification fight between IBF world lightweight champion Teofimo “El Brooklyn” Lopez (15-0, 12 KO’s) and WBA super, WBO and WBC ‘Franchise’ world lightweight champion Vasiliy “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KO’s) it’s been announced that the Franchise title will be on the line.
With this being the case, the winner is said to be recognized as the undisputed lightweight champion. The trouble with this is Devin “The Dream” Haney (24-0, 15 KO’s) is in possession of the WBC world lightweight title that Loma vacated when he petitioned for and received ‘Franchise champion’ status.
This oddball scenario will have many boxing fans scratching their heads trying to figure how either Hi-Tech or Lopez can be undisputed when the WBC themselves have never denied that the Franchise belt is not even a real championship title. Also, does this mean that the next time Canelo fights that his Franchise title will also be on the line? Or will the WBC merely pick and choose when the concept belt will be up for grabs?
HOW MUCH TIME IS NEEDED?
So after nearly a year and a half of ‘giving it time’ the Franchise title remains more of a contamination than elevation. Even worse, as long as this screwball concept belt is allowed to linger in the sport, it only threatens to water down more and more divisions. And with the extreme title fatigue that enthusiasts already suffer from, how can this be viewed in any way as a benefit to boxing?
So, Mr. Sulaimán and the WBC, can we please do away with this nonsensical, very confusing and overtly meaningless Franchise belt?
By: Bakari Simpson