By Jake Donovan
After being given just eight seconds to unsuccessfully plead with referee Russell Mora to allow his last fight to continue, Julio Ceja will be granted at least the next few days by the World Boxing Council to argue his case for reconsideration.
The former 122-pound titlist has filed an official appeal with the WBC on the grounds that his June 23 clash with lineal super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux was unjustly stopped.
Ceja was winning on all three scorecards heading into the 8th round of their WBC-sanctioned title eliminator at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cuba’s Rigondeaux turned the tables in a big way, flooring the Mexican boxer with a single straight left hand.
A mandatory eight-count was administered, to which Ceja acknowledged while on his feet and even followed the instructions issued by Mora in order to be permitted to continue. To the disbelief among those in attendance as well as those watching at home live in primetime on free-to-air Fox, the contest was instead waved off.
The win earned Rigondeaux the distinction of being named the official mandatory challenger to the winner of the July 13 WBC title consolidation clash between unbeaten “Full” titlist Rey Vargas an “interim” titleholder Tomoki Kameda.
Hope among Ceja’s side is that full reconsideration will come of his appeal by that point.
“Guillermo Rigondeaux is the official mandatory challenger,” noted Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the WBC. “However, the request of Mr. Julio Ceja will be addressed.”
The best case scenario for Ceja is that the fight is ruled a No-Contest, although that would have to ruled as such by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, who oversaw Sunday’s event. That would require a separate protest filed directly with the commission.
As it relates to the WBC, all that can be done is for a rematch to be ordered in redetermining the mandatory challenger. Given the sanctioning body’s stance on fighter safety, Ceja could find himself swimming upstream on this one.
“The chief goal of the World Boxing Council is to always safeguard the integrity and well-being of boxers, in order to avoid any tragedy,” points out Sulaiman.
Rigondeaux (19-1, 13KOs)—a two-time Olympic Gold medalist for his native Cuba—established himself as the division’s lineal champion following an April 2013 decision win over Nonito Donaire.
The ugly side of the sport’s politics resulted in collection of alphabet titles being stripped in 2015, while maintaining championship lineage among historians who track such events. Assuming Sunday’s result holds up, it will mark his 6th successful championship defense.
Barring a surprise overturned verdict in his favor, Ceja (32-4, 28KOs) will be sitting on back-to-back unlucky stoppages. He was well in control through four rounds countryman Franklin Manzanila before a broken nose forced a stoppage prior to the start of round five in their WBC-sanctioned clash last May.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox