By Luke Furman
Russian cruiserweight Denis Lebedev is very excited about the possibility of facing the overall winner of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) tournament.
On Thursday, the WBA issued an order which downgraded Lebedev's status as the 'super' champion at cruiserweight and made him the "champion in recess."
In the same order, Cuba's Yunier Dorticos - who had the WBA's 'regular' title at the weight - became the full champion, which made Saturday's fight with IBF champion Murat Gassiev a true unification.
Gassiev prevailed in the contest to knock Dorticos down three times in the twelfth and final round, to force the stoppage by the referee.
The Russian boxer will now stake the WBA, IBF titles against Oleksandr Usyk, who holds the WBO, WBC world titles. The two champions will collide in the WBSS finale on a date in May, in Saudi Arabia.
However, as part of the WBA's order from the Thursday - the overall WBSS winner must make a mandatory defense against Lebedev.
Lebedev is not upset with the WBA's decision to remove him from his title and looks forward to facing the Usyk vs. Gassiev winner.
"Given that I have not boxed for a long time, that I haven't defended the title, it's a fair decision. Perhaps, because of the good relationship with this organization they allowed me to become the 'champion on vacation' instead of taking the title away from me completely. This is a good and fair decision," said Lebedev to Vassiliy Konov.
"Of course, I want to fight the winners of the World Boxing Super Series. The winner of this tournaments, in modern jargon, is a tough guy. I'm not even thinking about the end of my career. There are other things out there, but life itself dictates its conditions. We will see what happens."
The 38-year-old Lebedev has a record of 30 wins (22 KOs) with two defeats. His last fight took place in July 2017 in Yekaterinburg against Australian Mark Flanagan, whom Lebedev defeated by way of a unanimous decision.
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org.