Alycia Baumgardner vowed that her next fight would be for the undisputed championship.
The WBA has granted that wish, even though it will come without its own champion involved in the process.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that every major title in the junior lightweight division will be at stake for Baumgardner’s next fight. The reigning lineal/WBC/IBF/WBO/IBO champ was approved to challenge for the now vacant WBA title, as long-reigning claimant Hyun Mi Choi was downgraded to ‘Champion in Recess’ due to her current declared injury status.
“Based upon the [championship] Rules, and the finding of the WBA Medical Committee, the WBA places Ms. Hyun Mi Choi as Champion in Recess of the WBA World Female Super Featherweight division for a period no longer than the date of the medical clearance referred to below,” the WBA declared earlier this week in a final resolution, a copy of which was obtained by BoxingScene.com. “Ms. Baumgardner will contend for the vacant WBA title against the next leading available contender ranked by the WBA for a bout to take place no later than March 31st, 2023.”
An opponent is expected to be finalized and revealed in the coming days. The two highest ranked challengers are Germany’s Ramona Graeff (4-0, 0KOs) and former WBC lightweight titlist Defline Persoon (47-3, 19KOs).
The ruling comes more than a week after the previously ordered Baumgardner-Choi was bound for a purse bid hearing during the WBA Centennial Convention in Orlando, Florida. The bout was pulled from the session after Choi (20-0-1, 5KOs)—whose family defected from North Korea in 2004 and eventually made their way to Seoul, South Korea—filed for a medical exception, declaring that she was unavailable to face Baumgardner (13-1, 7KOs) by the sanctioning body’s deadline.
Choi’s case was presented to the WBA Board of Directors, who spent more than a week deliberating over the matter before reaching its decision.
The ruling ends what was the sport’s longest active title reign to that point. Choi previously held the WBA featherweight title from her pro debut through May 2013, moving up to junior lightweight where she claimed the interim title later that August. She was upgraded to full WBA titlist soon thereafter, lodging ten successful defenses, including a ten-round win over Vanessa Bradford on October 19 in Seoul.
As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, Baumgardner is likely to land as the co-feature of a February 4 DAZN-aired undisputed championship doubleheader. The show will be headlined by the Amanda Serrano-Erika Cruz lineal/WBC/WBA/IBF/WBO featherweight championship.
The WBA’s decision provides the 28-year-old Baumgardner to fully unify the junior lightweight division all within a 15-month span. The Detroit-based rising phenom claimed the WBC 130-pound title in a rousing fourth-round knockout of unbeaten Terri Harper last November 13 on the road in Sheffield, England. Baumgardner’s feat was hailed by BoxingScene.com as 2021 Female Knockout of the Year.
Two successful defenses have followed, including her ten-round, majority decision win over unbeaten and heated rival Mikaela Mayer on October 15 in London. Baumgardner retained her WBC crown, while lifting the IBF/WBO titles from Mayer (17-1, 5KOs) along with gaining lineal championship designation.
Exactly one month later, the WBA called for a Baumgardner-Choi undisputed championship as part of its ‘One Boxing’ program. The move was requested by Baumgardner and her team, Marshall Kauffman’s King’s Promotions and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing.
“Regardless if it's with Choi or not, I am going to be the undisputed champion in 2023,” Baumgardner told BoxingScene.com earlier this month, prior to the WBA convention.
The red-hot, reigning champion proved prophetic.
Baumgardner is not completely free from Choi, though the 32-year-old is no longer in a position to stall her progress. The WBA resolution calls for Choi to get first dibs at her old crown once cleared to return to the ring.
“On the submission and approval of medical clearance that the Champion in Recess is “Fit To Fight”, Ms Choi will be named the WBA mandatory for the holder of the WBA/ Unified Super Featherweight Division Title,” noted the resolution.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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