David Morrell will not be among those who will have to turn in his secondary title.
That said, negotiations for his next ordered fight will have to reach a resolution to avoid that fate.
The reigning WBA “World” Super middleweight titlist has been granted a ten-day extension to work out terms for a title defense versus mandatory challenger John Ryder. The twice-ordered title fight remains in play, though requiring stronger confirmation than has been provided to this point.
Per a WBA ruling Wednesday evening, the two sides will now have until August 28 to present the sanctioning body with a deal in place to avoid a purse bid hearing.
Morrell—who fights under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner—is represented by Warriors Boxing, while Ryder fights for Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing.
The fight was initially ordered on January 19, the same day Morrell was elevated from WBA “interim” to “World” titlist. The order also came one month after both posted wins on separate shows last December.
Morrell (5-0, 4KOs) defeated Mike Gavronski via third-round knockout in a non-title fight last December 26 at Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles. The win came eight days after England’s Ryder (29-5, 16KOs) scored an eight-round, unanimous decision victory over Mike Guy at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
A deal was believed to have been reached, with industry whispers of a summertime showdown on the horizon. Those plans were stalled, with Morrell permitted to enter a voluntary title defense. It came this past June 27, knocking out Mexico’s Mario Cazares in the first round of their PBC on Fox headliner from The Armory in his adopted hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Two fights prior, Morrell earned the WBA interim super middleweight title following a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over then-unbeaten Lennox Allen. He was then advanced to WBA “World” titlist once the belt became available after its previous claimant, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (56-1-2, 38KOs) soundly outpointed WBA “Super” champ Callum Smith in their title consolidation clash last December 19 in San Antonio, Texas. Alvarez emerged as the unified WBA “Super”/WBC super middleweight titlist following the win.
Guadalajara’s Alvarez has since added the WBO title following an eighth-round injury stoppage of unbeaten Billy Joe Saunders in front of a record-breaking U.S. indoor boxing crowd this past May at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Renewed talks are currently ongoing for a four-belt undisputed championship showdown with IBF titlist Caleb Plant (21-0, 12KOs), with the two likely to collide in the fourth quarter of 2021 should they come to terms this time around.
Morrell is afforded his secondary title in the meantime, though locked into a mandatory title defense versus Ryder.
Per WBA rule C.13 addressing Bout Limitations, “within sixty (60) days of the expiration of the mandatory defense period, a World Champion may not fight a boxer who is not the Mandatory Contender, or the next highest ranked boxer (if there is no Mandatory Contender), nor may a designated contender fight during the same period for anything other than the championship.
“During the pendency of a required contract negotiation or purse bid period for a championship or eliminator fight, no champion, official contender, or boxer directly affected by the period can sign an agreement for, or participate in, a bout different than the one that is the subject of the negotiation or bid period.”
Given the circumstances, Morrell’s secondary title status remains unaffected by the WBA’s recent efforts to reduce the number of titlists within its organization. A series of title consolidation fights have been ordered in the past two weeks.
The act stems from the controversial August 7 Fox-aired WBA interim welterweight title fight which saw Venezuela’s Gabriel Maestre (4-0, 3KOs) claim a twelve-round, split decision win over Mykal Fox (22-3, 5KOs) that had many observers suggesting outright corruption. A rematch has since been ordered, with Maestre stripped of the interim title as to disallow “a champion’s advantage” in the rematch.
Morrell-Ryder was already ordered (twice) before current reform efforts were launched. However, it does apply pressure on both sides to reach a deal to avoid a purse bid hearing, if not the threat of the belt being phased out.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox