By Frank Warren
In finally making a declaration over exactly who has been awarded the right to fight for the vacant WBA heavyweight belts, the governing body has attempted to extricate themselves from a complex legal web.
I’ve got news for the WBA and their president Gilberto Mendoza – that web is about to become even more tangled.
The order has gone out for the ‘regular’ title to be fought for by Lucas Browne, who took the WBA to court over being stripped of his belt following doping allegations after he beat Ruslan Chagaev back in March in Grozny.
Astonishingly, Big Daddy has been mandated to fight Big Gob, the 44-year-old warhorse Shannon Briggs who, coincidently, also has an outstanding action against the WBA for an alleged breach of the Muhammad Ali Act.
The WBA have been accused of manipulating the rankings so their genius solution is to repeat the trick. Go figure.
Since he took an almighty shellacking against Vitali Klitschko back in October 2010 that kept him out of the ring until April 2014, the Cannon has hardly exploded back onto the scene.
His nine opponents possessed a combined loss column of 87 defeats as Briggs took himself round an assortment of casinos, racetracks and hotels to fine tune his vocal chords and topple a load of Shannon fodder.
Seven of the opponents crashed to canvas and were stopped in the first round, one in the second, while the one who extended him to 12 – Raphael Zumbano Love – was dealt with in just over four minutes by Anthony Joshua in his 11th fight.
How this qualifies Briggs for a world title shot – even taking into account legal considerations – is beyond me.
Alexander Ustinov, who was ranked at three and has since mysteriously dropped to four without anyone around him having seen action, was due to fight the No.1 ranked Luis Ortiz for the Interim title.
The fight went to purse bids and this was won by Vlad Hrunov, which led to Ortiz pulling out the fight and surrendering his claim to the title.
How can Ustinov now be overlooked when it comes to a vacant regular title being put up for grabs?
He remains ranked above Briggs, who has strangely been elevated above David Haye and Fres Oquendo, yet no explanation has been forthcoming.
When Briggs fought on Haye’s show against hapless Emilio Zarate – who couldn’t get out of there quick enough – he was ranked behind David who, on the same card, fought a WBA ranked opponent in 29-0 Arnold Gjergjaj.
So why has Briggs been parachuted in above Haye in the WBA rankings?
The whole thing stinks and leaves a smell around the WBA.
President Mendoza is more elusive than Floyd Mayweather Jnr’s chin.
With all the waiting and procrastinating that has been going on, nobody, but nobody – everybody you speak to – could seem to get hold of Mr Mendoza, who doesn’t answer his phone, but you can follow him on Facebook.
It is manipulation of the rankings pure and simple and, as far as Ustinov is concerned, they will be facing the exact same action from him as Briggs brought against them under the Muhammad Ali Act which forbids such skulduggery.
Don’t bet against David Haye doing the same because they were the next two available contenders.
These are questions I now ask publicly seeing as no-one there has the decency to pick up the telephone. I want Senor Mendoza to explain how and why this fight was made.
On 26th August 2016, it was ordered that Lucas Browne had to face the highest available contender and that was not Briggs.
The sport of boxing needs to know how you came to overlook Ustinov, in favour of Briggs, who is ranked below Ustinov.
To add to the farce, the super title, which was created in the event of a unification is now going to be attached – as a vacant title – to the proposed Wladimir Klitschko-Joshua fight next year.
Only they could conjure up such a ridiculous scenario, kowtowing to a former champion who by the time he fights Joshua won’t have fought for 18 months after being comprehensively beaten by Tyson Fury.
We keep being told the WBA wish to reduce their title count and abolish the regular and interim titles. If they continue to settle law suits by title shots then the number of belts isn’t going to diminish any time soon.
They will probably end up needing a couple more…
Catch up with Alan Hubbard’s Punchlines tomorrow: Why November 26 marks a milestone for boxing