The WBC Franchise Belt continues to be dead weight
When the WBC first dreamed up and introduced the Franchise Champion designation, there was no fundamental purpose for its creation. The designation was explained to be the reward for exceptional fighters who had achieved a certain level of popularity and in-ring achievements. Going further, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman will try to convince you that the Franchise designation facilitates the creation of sensational prizefights throughout the weight classes that otherwise would have never happened.
The thing is, fighters have bounced around the various divisions well before the Franchise Champion designation ever existed. Undisputed super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was the first ever Franchise Champion. Even though he is no longer a Franchise Champion however, he’s working on a fight date to take on WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu in 2022. Nor did Gervonta “Tank” Davis have to be Franchise to bizarrely battle Leo Santa Cruz for both, the regular WBA lightweight and super WBA super featherweight titles. All said to say, the Franchise Champion designation hasn’t allowed anything to happen that couldn’t have happened anyway.
Beyond bringing nothing truly beneficial to the sport, the Franchise Champion designation has opened a Pandora’s Box of confusion. This paradox is best highlighted by the situation that WBC lightweight champion Devin “The Dream” Haney finds himself trapped in. After achieving the status of mandatory challenger, Haney pressed for a bout with then champion Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Rather than face the Dream, Loma and his team petitioned for and were granted Franchise Champion status. Once equipped with the new trinket, Lomacheko dropped the traditional and universally recognized WBC title. At that point, the WBC awarded the belt to Haney who has held it ever since. Haney has also been snubbed by the WBC as a secondary champion ever since, as well. Naturally, fighters, the media and boxing fans have all struggled fruitlessly to either understand or justify the existence of the designation.
“I saw my champion Haney comment after the fight and he said when he fights Kambosos, he will not care for the Franchise. Perfect! Because one of the things that [is a] Franchise element is that it has to be requested. So if Haney, if he defeats Kambosos and he does not want to have the Franchise designation, that is perfect!”Mauricio Sulaiman, WBC president
PLEASE, NO MORE!
Going into the third full year of this Franchise Champion nonsense, the WBC is no more capable of explaining it now as they were at its inception. In fact, all these years later, Sulaiman is still apologizing for the confusion. Well, he’ll be apologetic and jovial initially, but when the questions don’t stop, Sulaiman is a big fan of the “I’m rubber and you’re glue” argument. Meaning, when the outright lunacy of the Franchise Champions can’t be articulated, the president will simply blame the lack of understanding on the deficiency of the person making the inquiry.
“I am sorry for the confusion that the fans may have, I am sorry for the confusion that the media might have. I’m sorry for those who run the statistics like maniacs!”Mauricio Sulaiman, WBC president
Let’s just hope that continued pressure to validate the title will lead to its ultimate abolition. Yet, given the way that the WBC has stood behind this knuckleheaded creation, there is little reason to believe that it’s going to vanish from the scene any time soon. So, maybe the WBC will alter the Franchise rules, again, to make it more relevant. Probably wouldn’t be a good idea holding your breath on that one either.
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By: Bakari Simpson