Questioning the WBC 147lb “Tournament”

Earlier this week the WBC announced that Danny Garcia and Robert Guerrero will fight for the vacant 147lb…
WBC Tournament

Earlier this week the WBC announced that Danny Garcia and Robert Guerrero will fight for the vacant 147lb title when they meet this Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

This announcement has caused both fans and pundits alike to question the WBC and the motives behind such a decision.

It all started last year, before the WBC vacated their 147lb title (previously held by Floyd Mayweather Jr). The sanctioning body stated that they would pursue two options to determine a new champion. The potential options at that stage were:

  1. A small tournament
  2. A bout between the two highest ranked contenders (per the advice of the WBC’s championship committee)

Initially, a “small tournament,” sounded intriguing and although we were never given any details you got the sense it had the potential to make some very good fights.

Similarly, a rematch between the WBC number one contender Amir Khan and Danny Garcia, currently ranked number two is a mouth-watering prospect.

So, during their annual convention in November 2015, the WBC vacated Floyd Mayweather’s titles, made him “Emeritus Champion” and WBC President Mauricio Sulaimán announced a tournament would take place for the vacant belts.

At the time of the 2015 WBC convention, Amir Khan, realising negotiations with Pacquiao had broken down, was actively looking at other options. One of these options was a rematch with Danny Garcia. A rematch that could have been for the WBC title.

We spoke to Team Khan, who told us they pursued the rematch, but Garcia’s team were not interested in taking the fight. They also stated that this wasn’t the first time Amir Khan had tried to get a rematch with Danny Garcia. In fact, Team Khan claim they have tried to get the rematch with Garcia a number of times since Khan lost to him in 2012.

Despite Khan vs. Garcia II being arguably the single most enticing bout the WBC could make for their 147lb title at this point it seemed like a traditional tournament would take place instead.

So, a traditional tournament is exactly what everyone expected. That is until the WBC announced that Garcia and Guerrero would slug it out for their vacant title as part of their new tournament, which works as follows:

  • Garcia and Guerrero fight for the vacant WBC title
  • Amir Khan is the #1 mandatory
  • Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto will meet to decide the #2 mandatory
  • Sammy Vasquez vs. Aaron Martinez will serve as a semi-final eliminator
  • Miguel Barrionuevo vs. Azael Cosio will act as a semi-final eliminator
  • Ray Robinson will be a wildcard

Now, if that doesn’t confuse you may I suggest a career in quantum physics.

Essentially, the new tournament should, in theory, play out like this; Garcia and Guerrero fight for the title, the winner of Garcia vs. Guerrero must then fight Amir Khan as their first mandatory and the fighter who emerges as champion after that must then fight the winner of Lamont Peterson vs. Andre Berto.

Ray Robinson and the winners of the semi-finals become a “wildcard” but it seems only the WBC knows exactly what that means at this stage. I’m assuming it means that they’re a backup should anyone else involved in the “tournament” takes another route or gets injured.

It truly looks like the dark side of boxing has emerged to cast its shadow over this tournament. It feels like nothing more than a big charade aimed at gifting Danny Garcia a title and providing the perfect reason for him to be Floyd Mayweather Jr’s 50th opponent.

Not only does such the tournament seem like a charade but it also raises many questions. For example, why has the WBC’s number one ranked fighter, Amir Khan, been overlooked?

Why wasn’t Khan wasn’t given the chance to fight for the title with Garcia and Guerrero fighting for the right to be his mandatory.

Why wasn’t Khan, the WBC Silver Champion, simply upgraded to WBC Champion status?

WBA Regular Champion Keith Thurman is expected to be upgraded to Super Champion by the WBA soon with their Interim champion, David Avanesyan, becoming the Regular Champion and there is no reason the WBC couldn’t do this with Khan too.

I think we have to question how Danny Garcia, with one fight at 147lbs, has already been awarded a title shot.

Let us not forget Robert Guerrero, who has lost two of his last four fights, ranked sixth by the WBC but granted a world title shot, even though it breaks the WBC’s own rules.

The WBC “true philosophy,” states Championship fights must be earned and not handed out just to fill a vacant spot.” So, how exactly, have Garcia or Guerrero earned their championship fight at 147lbs?

There really is no case at all for Guerrero at this point. But, to suggest it is in part due to Garcia’s previous efforts at 140lbs, one must overlook Khan’s efforts at 147lbs, that he is the WBC Silver Champion and has been the number one contender for two years!

Perhaps, external forces have played a part in this debacle and perhaps the next place we should look to find the cause of this fiasco is away from the WBC.

Garcia, Guerrero, and Khan are all managed in one way or another by Al Haymon. So, what role, if any, did he play in this situation?

It’s not unfair to suggest that Haymon’s influence could have swayed some or all of the parties involved here. In fact, very few would even find it harsh to assert that Haymon is wielding his considerable influence and pulling strings behind the scenes to ensure the success of one of his fighters whilst simultaneously sidelining others.

Alternatively, one could even argue that Haymon could be gaining more, financially, from Garcia and Guerrero as a unit. Therefore it’s in Haymon’s own interests to put them before the interests of Amir Khan.

Let’s shift gears, removing any sinister elements from the equation. One could contend that Al Haymon’s management skills are simply not as good as some would have you believe. Perhaps this is simply another case of him failing his fighters.

Whatever the case may be, in the end, as boxing fans, we are once again left with a lousy situation. In essence, Danny Garcia has been gifted a title shot after just one fight at welterweight, whilst Robert Guerrero gets a title shot after losing two of his last four and Amir Khan gets nothing – despite being the number one contender and the Silver Champion.

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