The WBC’s Self-Created Franchise Nightmare
When the WBC initially created the bizarre Franchise belt, it was near universally rejected by boxers and fans alike. This remains the case to this very day. However, now the built-in confusion and nonsensical problems with the designation will truly begin causing chaos in the lightweight division.
In boxing, the fans often clash over national, regional and racial pride. Not to mention those who prefer brawlers versus boxers and skill versus raw power. However, virtually all boxing enthusiasts can get excited about a unification bout; especially a unification that will crown one undisputed champion of the division.
That could have been the case with the upcoming prizefight between WBA super, WBO and WBC ‘Franchise’ world lightweight champion Vasiliy “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko (14-0, 10 KO’s) and IBF world lightweight champion Teofimo “El Brooklyn” Lopez (15-0, 12 KO’s). Unfortunately, the WBC has essentially invalidated their own actual lightweight champion, Devin “The Dream” Haney (24-0, 15 KO’s), by creating an existential train-wreck that to this day they can not explain.
HOW CAN LOMACHENKO V LOPEZ BE FOR UNDISPUTED?
In the build-up to Loma v Lopez, WBC president Mauricio Sulaimán has stated on numerous occasions that the winner of the bout will be the undisputed lightweight champion. Quizzically, the organization stands by their insistence that the ‘Franchise belt’ is not an actual belt or championship, but rather a philosophical designation. So logically speaking, the holder is not actually a recognized WBC champion but rather a theoretical champion.
If that is the case, how in any way could the Hi-Tech versus El Brooklyn bout determine an undisputed champion? Especially when the aforementioned Haney holds the legitimate title and is viewed as the WBC’s currently standing lightweight champion? By their own definitions, it simply makes zero sense.
WHEN POLITICS BECOME POISONOUS
Sadly the confusion and hypocrisy does not stop there. When the ‘Franchise’ designation first infected the boxing world, it was stated that the belt could not be won or lost in the ring. Instead, a fighter had to petition to the WBC to be named the ‘Franchise champion’ by its board of directors. Once appointed with the trinket, it was to be held for life regardless of what happens in the ring. However, the WBC has whimsically undermined those words merely to say that the upcoming bout is for undisputed status.
Outside of undermining their own legitimized WBC lightweight title and champion, the WBC has done nothing but tarnish what should be a wonderful unification fight.
Ideally, when fans and commentators begin talking about this needlessly convoluted scenario, pressure will mount to do away with the ‘Franchise’ belt. Regrettably, this is not a high probability. The WBC seems committed to playing favorites with their magical Harry Potter belt. In the end, we’ll just have to wait and see how it plays out.
By: Bakari Simpson