OTTAWA, Canada -The latest ruling by the World Boxing Council (WBC), allowing its heavyweight champion, Vitali "Dr. Ironfist" Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs), to avoid fighting No. 1 mandatory challenger Bermane "B. Ware" Stiverne (23-1, 20 KOs), has drawn anger from an increasingly frustrated Team Stiverne.
Stiverne has already won not one, but two WBC title eliminators, the latest against Chris Arreola (35-3, 30 KOs) on HBO this past April 27, and three different mandated purse bids have been postponed. Now, the WBC has announced that the 42-year-old Klitschko has suffered an injury to his right hand and he won't return to the ring until 2014. Plus, the WBC will not make a decision regarding his title situation until the first-quarter of 2014, leaving Stiverne waiting even longer for his much deserved world title shot.
"I would hate to think the WBC treats some fighters more highly than others," a terribly disappointed Stiverne said. "I don't understand. (Timothy) Bradley was stripped when he was injured but I've read that the WBC would never strip Vitali. Do they have favorites? All fighters should be treated the same. We haven't heard anything directly from the WBC. The WBC isn't respecting us or its own rules. I remember when (Oleg) Maskaev was hurt before his fight with (Sam) Peter and Peter was named the WBC Interim champion. This isn't fair or respectful, and it's bad for boxing."
Klitsckko hasn't fought in nearly a year, when he defeated Manuel Charr (TKO4) on September 8, 2013; his last mandatory defense was almost two years ago, on Sept. 10, 2011 against Dereck Chisora (DEC12).
Stiverne's manager, Camille Estephan, CEO of Eye Of The Tiger Management (EOTTM), believes the WBC should either strip Klitschko of his belt, letting Stiverne fight the highest-ranking, available contender for the vacant WBC title, or name Stiverne as its Interim heavyweight champion.
"Klitschko has been a great champion and ambassador of boxing," Estephan commented, "but a true world champion has to defend his title in the ring, not keep it because of politics. He won't fight until 2014 but he should be stripped for not defending his title, or step aside to allow Bermane to fight for the Interim belt. The heavyweight division is the flagship of boxing but, we haven't had one world heavyweight champion because the Klitschko brothers won't fight each other, of course, but Vitali not defending his title adds insult to the heavyweight division.
"He hasn't defended his title in almost a year and now it'll be much longer if we have to wait for the WBC to even make a decision about the status of its heavyweight title. This is totally unacceptable. The credibility of the sport is at stake. Bermane has done everything required and more to get his world title shot. Two winning title-eliminators, three postponed purse bids, and now this. Why should he continue to be penalized for Vitali not defending his belt? I expect the WBC Board of Governors to do the right thing, now, and immediately. We've waited long enough!"