The annual WBC convention has once again managed to provide plenty of drama with its series of ordered fights in each weight division.
Whether all, most or even some of those sanctioned bouts actually see the light of day is another story.
The week-long convention - which was held in Acapulco, Mexico - confirmed several fights that were already in play, along with several proposed elimination bouts that may or may not materialize. Below is a complete rundown of all of the fights ordered during Wednesday’s ‘Mandatories’ session:
Heavyweight: As previously reported by BoxingScene,com, a final eliminator was ordered between former titlists Deontay Wilder (43-2-1, 42KOs) and Andy Ruiz (35-2, 22KOs). The winner will be named mandatory challenger to lineal/WBC champ Tyson Fury (32-0-1, 23KOs), who next faces Derek Chisora (33-12, 23KOs) in a trilogy match on December 3 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London.
Bridgerweight: The WBC-exclusive division - which ranges from 191-226 pounds - received confirmation that Oscar Rivas’ title defense against Ryan Rozanski is now rescheduled for February 25 in Poland. A final eliminator was also ordered between Croatia’s Allen Babic and Belgium’s Ryad Merhy (31-1, 26KOs), with the winners to next meet.
Cruiserweight: Ilunga ‘Junior’ Makabu (29-2, 25KOs) is back in the mandatory phase after watching a previously scheduled bout with Merhy fall through the cracks earlier this year. The 35-year-old Congolese southpaw was ordered to next face newly named mandatory Noel Gevor Mikaelyan (26-2, 11KOs). Also ordered was a final eliminator between former two-time title challenger Thabiso Mchunu (23-6, 13KOs) - who lost a highly questionable decision to Makabu in their January 29 rematch - and former two-division titlist Badou Jack (27-3-3, 16KOs).
Light Heavyweight: As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, Callum Smith (29-1, 21KOs) was confirmed as the mandatory challenger. He will be due a title shot but will first take a stay-busy fight which he must win to maintain his number-one-ranking. Meanwhile, lineal/WBC/IBF/WBO champ Artur Beterbiev (18-0, 18KOs) will next face WBO mandatory Anthony Yarde on January 28 at The O2 in London. With a win, Beterbiev will be permitted to explore an undisputed clash with WBA titlist Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11KOs) before having to face Smith.
Super Middleweight: As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, the WBC approved a forthcoming clash between interim titlist David Benavidez - a former two-time full WBC champ - and former IBF titlist Caleb Plant as a final eliminator. The winner will be named WBC mandatory challenger to undisputed champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, whose current medical status is being reviewed by the sanctioning body.
Middleweight: The division will remain in a holding pattern as the WBC will meet with undefeated champ Jermall Charlo to determine when he is fit to return to the ring. Interim titlist Carlos Adames was granted permission to next enter a voluntary title defense, with hopes of being named mandatory challenger for the full title.
Junior Middleweight: As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, the WBC ordered a final eliminator between interim WBC titlist Sebastian Fundora (19-0-1, 13KOs) and former full titlist Tony Harrison (29-3-1, 21KOs). The winner will be named mandatory challenger to undisputed champion Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19KOs), who next defends against WBO number-one contender Tim Tszyu (21-0, 15KOs) on January 28 in Las Vegas.
Welterweight: As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, unified WBA/WBC/IBF titlist Errol Spence (28-0, 22KOs) was instructed to next face mandatory challenger and former unified titlist Keith Thurman (30-1, 22KOs).
Junior Welterweight: As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, a title eliminator will be ordered between former lineal/unified lightweight champ Teofimo Lopez (17-1, 13KOs) and Spain's Sandor Martin (40-2, 13KOs). The winner will have a long wait to challenge for the full title, not to mention the order is on hold pending the outcome of Lopez’s December 10 meeting with former two-division titlist Jose Pedraza (29-4-1, 14KOs). Jose Zepeda (35-2, 27KOs; 2ND) and Regis Prograis (27-1, 23KOs) will meet on November 26 for the vacant title, with the winner already required to next defend against former WBC/WBO titlist Jose Ramirez (27-1, 17KOs).
Lightweight: As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, a final eliminator was ordered between former two-division champ Shakur Stevenson (19-0, 9KOs) and current top contender Isaac ‘Pitbull’ Cruz (24-2-1, 17KOs). The winner - if the fight takes place, which is highly unlikely - will be named mandatory challenger to current undisputed champ Devin Haney (29-0, 15KOs), who is presently in talks for a spring 2023 showdown with former three-division titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko (16-2, 11KOs).
Junior Lightweight: As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, Rey Vargas (36-0, 22KOs) and O’Shaquie Foster (19-2, 11KOs) agreed to terms for a forthcoming vacant title fight. Two mandatory title defenses will await the winner: Eduardo ‘Rocky’ Hernandez was confirmed as the number-one contender, while the WBC ordered a second final eliminator between Brazil’s Robson Conceicao and Tajikistan’s Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov.
Featherweight: As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, a request was approved for Stephen Fulton (21-0, 8KOs) and Brandon Figueroa (23-1-1, 18KOs) to meet in an interim featherweight title fight. Fulton will briefly pause his WBC/WBO 122-pound title reign for the rematch with Figueroa which is targeted for the first quarter of 2023. The winner will either next face Vargas, who still holds the full featherweight title, or receive an upgrade to full title status if Vargas remains at junior lightweight. Additionally, the WBC ordered a title eliminator between former champ Mark Magsayo and former WBO junior featherweight titlist Isaac Dogboe, who beat Joet Gonzalez in a WBC semifinal eliminator earlier this year.
Junior Featherweight: Fulton will temporarily campaign at featherweight, leaving the WBC to order a four-man box-off. A prior day request from Golden Boy’s Roberto Diaz was approved for Azat Hovhannisyan and former two-division titlist Luis Nery to meet in a title eliminator. Additionally, promoter Marshall Kauffman successfully lobbied on behalf of unbeaten Ra’eese Aleem to next face Alan David Picasso. The winners of Nery-Hovhannisyan and Aleem-Picasso will then meet either in a final eliminator or - should Fulton remain at featherweight - in a vacant title fight. Refusal by any of the mentioned fighters to proceed will result in a hard reshuffle, particularly with three-division and reigning lineal/WBA/WBC/IBF bantamweight king Naoya Inoue set to move up in weight following his December 13 undisputed clash with WBO titlist Paul Butler.
Bantamweight: Inoue-Butler is already set for the undisputed championship on December 13 in Tokyo. With a win, Inoue plans to vacate all of the belts to compete at junior featherweight. The WBC has already pre-approved a fight between former four-division champ Nonito Donaire (42-7, 28KOs) and former two-time title challenger Jason Moloney (25-2, 19KOs), the current WBC mandatory contender. Such a bout will be contested for the vacant title should Inoue beat Butler and subsequently move up to 122. A win by Butler would create an entirely different conversation. The WBC also called for a semifinal eliminator between Nawaphon Sor Rungvisai and former interim titlist Reymart Gaballo.
Junior Bantamweight: As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, the December 3 rubber match between Juan Francisco Estrada (43-3, 28KOs) and Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (51-3, 41KOs) will come with the vacant title at stake. Estrada remains the recognized ‘Franchise’ champ, though in line to regain the physical belt recently vacated by Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez who will now compete at flyweight. The winner of Estrada-Gonzalez III is afforded a voluntary title defense. Meanwhile, the WBC ordered a title eliminator between former junior flyweight champ Pedro Guevara and former secondary titlist Andrew Moloney, accepted on his behalf by twin brother Jason.
Flyweight: As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, reigning champ Julio Cesar Martinez (18-2, 14KOs; 2NC) seeks a new opponent for December 3 after interim titlist McWilliams Arroyo (21-4, 16KOs; 1NC) withdrew due to a back injury. The WBC confirmed that Martinez could face Angel Ayala in a recognized mandatory title fight, which would free him up for a voluntary defense afterward. Any other opponent would result in a Martinez-Arroyo title consolidation rematch being revisited once Arroyo is healthy.
Junior Flyweight: Japan’s Kenshiro Teraji (20-1, 12KOs) was hailed for his terrific win over countryman Hiroto Kyoguchi (16-1, 11KOs) to defend his WBC title and win the WBA belt. However, he was also instructed to next face mandatory challenger and former two-division titlist Hekkie Budler (34-4, 10KOs). BoxingScene.com will have a story explaining how the ruling impacts tentative plans for Teraji’s next targeted fight.
Strawweight: Panya Pradabsri (39-1, 23KOs) - better known at parties as Petchmanee CP Freshmart - is clear to enter a voluntary title defense while his next mandatory challenger is established. The WBC approved a request from BXSTRS Promotions for unbeaten Luis Castillo (20-0-1, 13KOs) to compete in a title eliminator against the highest ranked available contender. South Africa’s Ayanda Ndulani (13-2-1, 4KOs) will be offered the opportunity, followed by The Philippines’ Melvin Jerusalem (19-2, 11KOs) should Ndulani decline.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox