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WBC Robs Bradley, Rewards Morales

Credit: Carlos Baeza/ Thompson Boxing Promotions

Timothy Bradley Stripped of WBC Title

On Thursday, the WBC stripped Timothy Bradley of his Light Welterweight Championship. This action was yet another corrupt and egregious farce on the part of what was boxing’s leading sanctioning organization, and sure to further damage the WBC’s rapidly evaporating reputation.

Credit: Carlos Baeza/ Thompson Boxing Promotions

WBC President Jose Sulaiman indicated that Bradley was stripped due to his inactivity and his plans to move up to 147 lbs. Both claims are clearly false. Timothy Bradley had won back the WBC title (he had been stripped of it once before) in January of this year in his unification bout with Devon Alexander. According to WBC rules, Bradley should have had at least the rest of this year to defend his title against a mandatory challenger, and the WBC has not even named a challenger for Bradley to face. If they had, it probably should have been Devon Alexander, as Alexander held the #1 slot prior to the WBC making a mockery of the sport for the umpteenth time. The bottom line on Sulaiman’s spurious inactivity claim is the WBC had failed in its responsibility to name a fighter for Bradley to face, and Bradley still has months remaining before he became delinquent in his duties as WBC champion.

The claim that Bradley should be removed as champion because he plans to move up to welterweight is equally invalid. Unless Bradley formally notifies the WBC of his intention to vacate the title, they have no justifiable grounds for stripping him until Bradley actually fights at welterweight. Indeed, the very language used in this action points out the WBC’s perfidy. If Bradley were moving up, his title would have been vacated, not stripped. Bradley has a fairly good case against the WBC, should he wish to sue the organization and seek damages.

All of this was done for the benefit of Erik Morales, who has enjoyed a long association with the WBC. In a move that smacks of cronyism, the WBC took the title from Bradley so Morales could fight for it in September against a creampuff. His opponent, Jorge Barrios, is moving up from lightweight and was not even ranked by the WBC in either the 135 lbs or 140 lbs weight class. That makes Morales vs. Barrios an illegal title fight under WBC rules!

Nor is this the first time Sulaiman has stripped a worthy champion to clear the road for a WBC crony to win an easy championship. He did exactly the same thing to Sergio Martinez in order to give Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. an unobstructed path to the WBC Middleweight Title. The only real difference is that the case for stripping Bradley is even more obviously fraudulent than the case for stripping Martinez.

Once upon a time, the green belt of the WBC was viewed as more prestigious than those of the other alphabet soup organizations. The basis for that claim was never that the WBC was somehow more august, since they have been prone to corrupt shenanigans from the organization’s earliest days. The WBC has always been pulling stunts like instantly naming Vitali Klitschko (who had been retired for almost four years) their number #1 contender in his 2008 comeback, but so have the other sanctioning bodies. (This was according to their self-declared champion emeritus rule, further clouding the champions vs. titleholders pictures in the sport).

Instead, the WBC’s prestige was based on the quality of its champions. Lennox Lewis rose to prominence on the WBC’s belt, as did Erik Morales and numerous other prominent champions over the years. By stripping fighters like Martinez and Bradley, both widely regarded as the best in their respective divisions, the WBC undermines any claim to preeminence based on having the best champions. If Jose Sulaiman makes a policy of screwing real champions to pave the way for his personal favorites, it is a matter of time before people associate the organization not with great champions, but with actions like trying to extort the championship trunks off of Kelly Pavlik for sale on the collectibles market.