By Tris Dixon
THE president of the WBC Mauricio Sulaiman said he will wait to see what happens in the heavyweight fights on December 22 before making a decision on challengers, mandatory statuses and unification contests.
Next Saturday, Dominic Breazeale (WBC No. 1) meets Carlos Negron in Brooklyn while in London Dillian Whyte (WBC No. 2) collides with old foe Dereck Chisora.
Not only will Sulaiman have to work out what to do with the winners of each fight, but the WBC has voted for an immediate rematch between heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and challenger Tyson Fury following their December 1 draw while Sulaiman has previously stated that he wants the WBC ruler to unify with Anthony Joshua.
“This is the beauty of the sport,” he said to BoxingScene.com. “Fury came back and made everyone proud and is now a motivation to so many who are looking for answers in life. If you fall down but if you work hard, if you dream, if you have strength, then you can recover and be successful. I’m very proud of Tyson Fury and he did unbelievable work inside the ring and both fighters showed tremendous sportsmanship after the fight. So I’m very proud of what happened on December 1.”
Sulaiman, who was ringside in Los Angeles, said he did not score the fight because he was working but that he had faith in his officials.
“[When you’re working] you’re not 100 percent concentrated for the full three minutes of all the rounds,” he admitted. “That’s why I respect the judges, because they’re the only ones who are 100 percent attentive to what is happening inside the ropes with a seat that nobody else has. I believe the fight was very good, very close. I believe there were a couple of difficult rounds to score and I believe the two knockdowns have a great deal of importance in the final scoring and I prefer not to take the controversy of the wide score of [Alejandro] Rochin into account, I’d rather concentrate on the great fight and the end result, it being a draw, I believe it’s fair for both fighters.”
But Rochin did go under the microscope and there were once again calls for bans and suspensions of officials who seem to have a unique interpretation of a fight.
“There is of course frustration,” he said, of those who scored for Fury. “When you’re so close to getting the biggest win of your career or it’s your hero, you get frustrated. I see many people saw Fury win, especially British, and I saw many people saw Wilder win, especially the North Americans. So I do not think that Rochin is incompetent. I think he’s an honourable man who has been judging for many years and worked many great fights and I feel sorry that he’s taking a very big blow by fans and media, but judges are accountable and he saw the fight the way he saw it. Four points, 115-111 in my opinion is wide. Either way the fight could have gone, or a draw, but I think having a four-point difference is too wide and I trust the man is honourable but we all have an off-night in our work. I don’t think it was incompetence or illegal activity or something [is] wrong. He just had a night which he saw different things to what the other two judges saw.”
When asked whether he would be monitoring Rochin’s future fights, Sulaiman said: “When you’re a judge, you’re in the spotlight. When you’re a referee, you’re in the spotlight. We have to continue supporting officials to get back and do the work that they have to do. As I mentioned, you can have a bad night and he just went a little far off the judges and I respect Rochin and he has my vote of confidence for future work.”
Eyes now turn to December 22 for Breazeale and Whyte. The WBC will wait to see what happens and will rule early in the New Year what the mandatory status is. Sulaiman would not say whether he prefers champion Wilder to face Fury next or to meet Joshua in a unification fight, a bout he has long coveted.
“We are not promoters,” he continued. “This is a matter for the promoters to facilitate. What we do is mediate and what we’re trying to do is give boxing fans the best fights available. I have been on record for more than a year about Joshua, and I have been supporting Joshua to fight for the WBC title, to unify the heavyweight division. Unfortunately it didn’t happen when it could have happened. Both fighters took the wrong route, but the WBC will continue to support the idea of unification but the WBC has ruled in favour of a [Wilder-Fury] rematch and we have our mandatory contender situation that also has to be addressed.
“I am certain that Joshua will eventually fight for the WBC championship in the near future and I am certain that the heavyweight division will have interest in it that we have been waiting for for decades. There are great fights to be done in 2019 and hopefully all of the fighters that have been mentioned will be involved in the WBC championship.”