Eddie Hearn promotes a handful of WBC champions, but he’s not promoting the idea of further complicating boxing’s beltholder picture by way of the WBC Franchise Champion.
The WBC introduced the Franchise Champion last year and has since bestowed the title on Canelo Alvarez at middleweight and Vasiliy Lomachenko at lightweight.
Hearn fears WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury will be elevated to the same status in order to avoid a mandatory fight with the Matchroom Boxing promoted Dillian Whyte.
"The [WBC] 'franchise' is no good for the sport of boxing,” Hearn told the SI Podcast. “How can you become great if you get to the point where you can find out, then it's just ripped away? Haney becomes, via email really, WBC champion. He doesn't want that. It’s the same for Dillian Whyte against Tyson Fury.
“I don’t want Fury to become WBC Franchise champion and the WBC to elevate Dillian Whyte from interim champion to World champion because he won’t ever feel like he beat the world heavyweight champion to become the heavyweight champion of the world.”
The WBC issued an order in 2019 which stated Whyte would get his mandatory world title shot by February 2021. The heavyweight contender recently took legal action against the WBC to ensure that his mandatory shot will remain on course.
“Right now we don’t know when boxing is going to resume for some specific fights, such as the rematch between Deontay Wilder versus Tyson Fury. We don’t know if that fight will happen in October, November, December, next year. We cannot control that. But for the WBC there is a legal contract that [Wilder, Fury] signed for a third fight,” president Mauricio Sulaiman told Boxing Insider Radio.
"For the WBC there is a mandatory title defense that the champion has to make. The mandatory challenger is the interim champion, Dillian Whyte. He has the right to enforce his title shot after the Wilder vs Fury third fight. Fury vs Joshua is just speculation. They have both come out and said that they have a deal which is very good. But there are many things that must take place before it actually happens."
Hearn and Haney were the benefactors of the Franchise Champion rule last year once the title was designated to Lomachenko. Haney earned the 135-pound championship without throwing a single punch once his interim title status was no more.
Hearn promotes other WBC champions like Juan Francisco Estrada, Julio Cesar Martinez, Cecilia Braekhus, Katie Taylor and Terri Harper, but he’s not interested in Franchise titles for his fighters.
“By the way, I don’t want AJ to fight Fury for the Franchise championship because some people will say it’s not undisputed,” said Hearn. “As a champion, you have mandatories. Anthony Joshua has two mandatories; Kubrat Pulev, who he’ll deal with next, and then Oleksandr Usyk.
“We do have an issue with Oleksandr Usyk. He has to get his shot at the heavyweight title. Maybe AJ fights him in the spring. Some mandatory challengers aren’t the most deserving challengers in the world. Dillian Whyte is the most deserving challenger I’ve seen for a long time. So give him his opportunity.”
According to the WBC, "the franchise champion is a special designation and status which the WBC may bestow to a current WBC world champion, who is also an elite boxer and who has achieved and maintains the highest of statures in the sport. ... The WBC may, upon a two-thirds vote of the board of governors, designate in each weight category one WBC franchise champion. A franchise champion shall enjoy special status with respect to his or her mandatory obligations, holding multiple titles and competing for titles of other organizations, as the WBC board of governors rules on a case-by-case basis."
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com.