Unfortunately the WBC celebrated its 47th birthday on Sunday. None of the boxing organizations are good for the sport and the WBC is no exception. They have had their share of terrible moments and they are somehow going still going strong.
The WBC was established by 11 countries in Mexico City on February 14, 1963 upon invitation of Mexico’s President Adolfo Lopez Mateos. Ironically they were formed to achieve the unity of all commissions of the world to control the expansion of boxing. They have done anything but that in their 47 years. I would like to give a shoutout to WBC President Jose Suliamn for being the man pulling the strings on some of the worst decisions ever seen in the sports world.
Currently the WBC has 15 “full” world champions in 16 divisions, five “interim” champions and two divisions empty (Valero is only an interim champion at 135 while there is no full champion) for a total of 20 champions in 16 divisions. The five interim champions fight in divisions where the champion is fully functional and still fighting.
The WBC has a long list of making decisions that are blatantly in favor of one man, Don King. Here are some shining moments from WBC President Jose Sulaiman.
The first was when they stripped Leon Spinks in 1978 because he singed a deal to fight Muhammad Ali and not a Don King fighter Ken Norton. Norton won the title and fought another fighter promoted, by guess who, Don King.
In 1983 WBC Super Featherweight champion Bobby Chacon signed a deal to fight his mandatory Cornelius Boza Edwards. That didn’t sit well with King because he promoted Hector Camacho and wanted him to fight for the title. The WBC rules state that a mandatory challenger should receive a shot at the title. The WBC preceded to withdraw its sanction from the fight and then stripped Chacon for refusing to fight Camacho.
Under WBC rules a fighter must defend its title against a mandatory challenger at least once a year, unless you are promoted by Don King. Two examples of this are Alexis Arguello and Carlos Zarate were allowed to ignore their mandatory fights while WBC titlists.
The WBC would not sanction the Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Roger Mayweather until Don King got the rights to be the promoter.
When Mike Tyson was KO’ed by underdog Buster Douglas, King convinced the WBC (to be fair the WBA went along with this to) that Tyson won the fight (and was still WBC champion) when he knocked Douglas down. He said the referee gave Douglas a long count and that was how he got up. The WBC eventually backed down and recognized Douglas as the champion due to public pressure.
They threatened to strip Evander Holyfield of his title because he defended it against Riddick Bowe instead of King promoted Razor Ruddock.
During the 90s the WBC did not allow their champions to unify with WBO champions until King promoted a 1993 WBC/WBO unification bout between Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn. Ironically they fought to a draw and both retained their titles.
In 1995 Tyson was immediately returned to number one contender status after being in jail. He had not fought in four years but was being promoted by Don King.
In 2000 Julio Cesar Chavez was the mandatory challenger for Kotsya Tszyu’s WBC super lightweight title. Chavez had not fight at the super lightweight limit for two years and was recently beaten by journeymen Willie Wise.
A more recent example was in 2005 when they stripped Javier Castillejo of his super welterweight title for fighting Fernando Vargas. They wanted him to fight Don King-promoted Ricardo Mayorga despite that fact that Mayorga had never fought at the weight and had two of his last three.
We almost saw the downfall of this organization in 1998, in one of the strangest decisions ever seen in sports. Roy Jones Jr. decided he didn’t want the WBC Light Heavyweight championship anymore and let the WBC know. The WBC then sanctioned a bout between German Graciano Rocchigiani and former champ Michael Nunn. On March 21, 1998 Rocchigiani won the fight and the WBC title. He was listed in the next WBC rankings as Light Heavyweight World champion.
By this time Jones decided that he wanted the WBC trinket back and let the WBC know. They then went ahead and reinstated him, which violated almost a dozen of its own rules. Rocchigiani got a letter saying that listing him as the champion was a mistake and that he was not the champion.
He decided to sue and on May 7, 2003 a court ordered the WBC pay him $30 million dollars in damages and reinstate him as a former WBC champion, since he had already lost a bout since the “title“ match.
The next day the WBC filed for Chapter 11 in Puerto Rico. They spent the next 13 months trying to strike a deal with Rocchiginai but he did not accept.
On June 11, 2004 they announced they would enter Chapter seven which effectively ended its existence. For some crazy reason people in the boxing community pleaded with Rocchigiani to settle the dispute and he did in mid-July 2004.
So there is the great 47 year history of the WBC. I’m sure they will be around for the next 47 years to frustrate, enrage, and confuse boxing fans all over the world. So here’s to the WBC. Congratulations on 47 years of rotten, perplexing, money grabbing years.