By Vadim Pushkin
Russian cruiserweight Grigory Drozd (40-1, 28 KOs) is stunned by the WBC's decision to make Tony Bellew the "emeritus champion."
Drozd is the WBC's "champion in recess." He received that status after suffering several injuries that prevented him from making a mandatory defense against Congolese puncher Ilunga Makabu.
After Drozd received that status, the WBC sanctioned Bellew vs. Makabu for the vacant WBC belt - which Bellew won by knockout in three rounds.
Last week, the WBC gave Bellew the "emeritus" status last week after it was revealed that the boxer suffered a hand injury during last month's win over David Haye at heavyweight. The WBC then sanctioned Marco Huck vs. Mairis Briedis for the vacant belt, which Briedis won by decision on Saturday night in Germany.
Drozd says the status of "emeritus" champion was always given to longtime champions who stepped away from the sport. He points out that Vitali Klitschko was one fighter who received that honor when he walked away from the sport due to injuries. On the other hand, Bellew had been champion for a year and only made a single title defense.
"For me, it's a little bit strange that Bellew was assigned this status, because the word 'emeritus' was handed out in the most severe cases. For example, if a boxer spent many years at the top and was no longer capable of defending his title. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk has a lot more of a claim to get that type of status [from the WBC]. Vitali Klitschko interrupted his career and he was awarded that title, so this is a strange decision [to give it to Bellew]," Drozd said to Margarita Yakupov.
"Bellew, of course, had done well for himself, he has achieved a lot - and nobody out there, probably other than him, expected this [recent success from Bellew]. But that honorary title being given to Bellew sends a loud message and it's really strange, at least to me."
Drozd is currently training to return to the ring in the coming months.