Azat Hovhannisyan will head straight to a title shot.
One day after learning of the purse bid results for a WBA-ordered title eliminator, Ra’eese Aleem informed the sanctioning body of his desire to instead proceed with present plans in place. The decision comes at the expense of no longer maintaining his number-one ranking in the WBA junior featherweight division, with Hovhannisyan reaping the benefits by default.
“Raeese Aleem and his team informed the World Boxing Association (WBA) that the American will step into the ring on November 27 to fight Eduardo Baez and will not fulfill his eliminator fight against Azat Hovhannisyan,” Carlos Chavez, chairman of the WBA Championship Committee confirmed on Saturday. “[Hovhannisyan] will be named mandatory challenger of the super bantamweight in the publication of the next [rankings].
“Last Friday, the purse bid for the fight between Aleem and Hovhannisyan took place, in which Golden Boy won the promotional rights of the fight, which was scheduled for next December or January. However, Aleem informed the [WBA] that he would not comply, so Hovhannisyan will be named mandatory challenger soon.”
The move was expected well ahead of the purse bid hearing, to the point of King’s Promotions—Aleem’s promoter—not even bothering to participate in the session. Golden Boy Promotions, Hovhannisyan’s promoter was the lone bidder during Friday’s hearing, securing the rights to the doomed fight with a bid of $80,001, exactly one dollar above the minimum required limit.
Aleem (18-0, 12KOs) and Hovhannisyan (20-3, 16KOs) stood to make $40,000.50 each had they elected to go through with the fight. The ordered eliminator was a non-starter all along for Aleem, who was already scheduled to face Mexicali’s Baez as part of a Showtime tripleheader on November 27 from Park MGM in Las Vegas. Aleem-Baez will serve as part of a show headlined by the junior featherweight title unification bout between WBC champ Brandon Figueroa (22-0-1, 17KOs) and WBO title claimant Stephen Fulton (19-0, 8KOs).
The show was delayed by more than two months after Figueroa tested positive for Covid ahead of the originally scheduled September 18 date. The development affected Aleem as it relates to his placement with the WBA, who previously agreed to delay its plans to order a title eliminator with Hovhannisyan until after the September show. The sanctioning body declined to approve another delay, as Hovhannisyan and Golden Boy objected to the request submitted by Marshall Kauffman—Aleem’s promoter and CEO/founder of King’s Promotions—on October 6.
Plans for the November 27 show will be formally revealed during Saturday’s offering of Showtime Championship Boxing.
Aleem stands to make considerably more versus Baez and is in a favorable position to land a shot at another junior featherweight title in 2022. Aleem, Figueroa and Fulton all fight under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner.
Meanwhile, Hovhannisyan will now wait out the results of the November 19 title fight between WBA/IBF champ Murodjon Akhmadalev (9-0, 7KOs) and Chile’s Jose Velasquez (29-6-1), a late replacement for previous WBA mandatory Ronny Rios who was forced to withdraw from the bout due to testing positive for Covid.
“The Armenian will get his title shot against… whoever the champion is at the time the mandatory arrives, according to WBA rules,” notes Chavez. “[His] team has already been informed about the decision of the Championships Committee.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox