By Jake Donovan
PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Like most in the industry, Eddie Hearn is still trying to wrap his head around the World Boxing Council’s newly rolled out “Franchise champion” policy.
The first to receive such designation from the Mexico-based sanctioning body was none other than Mexican icon and World middleweight king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. The suggested upgrade gives Alvarez—and any future Franchise champions—the freedom to pursue the biggest fights without having to be burdened with mandatory defenses.
With that declaration came an unrequested upgrade for Jermall Charlo, who advanced from “Interim” to “Full” middleweight titlist, which he defended for the first time on Saturday with a 12-round win over Brandon Adams in his Houston (Tex.) hometown.
It came on the same night where divisional rival Demetrius Andrade also enjoyed a hometown showcase, scoring a shutout over Maciej Sulecki at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, R.I. The win netted the unbeaten southpaw the second defense of the WBO title he claimed in a 12-round win over Walter Kautondokwa last October in Boston, Mass.
Therein lies the difference of how the two advanced to title status.
“Jermall Charlo is not a world champion,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com and other reporters after Andrade’s win on Saturday, for which he served as lead reporter. “He hasn’t beat a world champion. He’s a good fighter, but he was given a title.”
The statement wasn’t to take a swipe at another company’s fighter, but rather address the reality potentially facing one of his own athletes.
Waiting for nearly two years in queue for a shot at WBC heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder (41-0-1, 40KOs) is England’s Dillian Whyte (25-1, 18KOs). Next up for the England-based Jamaican heavyweight is a July 20 showdown versus Oscar Rivas in London. With a win, the plan is to address the WBC over his current status, as he’s ranked number one but has yet to be named as the official challenger for Wilder.
With the new policy in place, the concern is that he won’t get such an opportunity. Wilder is eyeing a rematch with Luis Ortiz later this fall, with a win giving the unbeaten Alabama native his 10th successful defense. The WBC has already named him on the list of candidates to receive the “Franchise” tag.
“We’ve got Dillian Whyte who is getting ready to be the mandatory challenger,” points out Hearn. “We don’t want to fight for a vacant belt when Deontay Wilder moves up to “Franchise” champion. So, we will see what happens.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: JakeNDaBox