WBC President José Sulaimán has ripped into critics of the WBC’s recent handling of the 154lb title, in which the belt was stripped from Manny Pacquiao and Saul Alvarez’s clash with Matthew Hatton was quickly sanctioned for the newly vacant belt.
“…human nature is formed by positive and unavoidable detractors,” wrote Sulaiman in his “Hook to the Liver” column that is published in El Universal every Sunday. “Last week was impacted by a couple of happenings, like the disqualification of Manny Pacquiao as a WBC champion, the appointment of Alvarez vs. Hatton to fill the vacancy, and the appointment of J.C.Chávez vs. Sebastian Zbik for the middleweight championship.
“The WBC was founded in 1963, by all the active, distinct boxing organizations at the time, to try to unify the boxing life, to implement actions and rules for the safety in boxing and the protection of the boxers from those who treated them as merchandise instead of human beings, and to bring rule and order, which in a naturally controversial world like ours, it has turned out to be almost impossible. During my presidency, I have unequivocally tried to become an intermediary to try to resolve all problems with tact, respect, and gentlemanship with absolute feelings of equality, but very firm in our position to have our constitution and rules respected. It has been most of the times possible, but others, not. Permanent detractors do not make it easy, but as President Truman said: “He who does not like heat, should get out of the kitchen.” I have stayed because I like it; it gives me a reason to perform the best that I can.
“During the WBC’s founding in 1963, the constituents brought in a rule, 1.25 (b), that states: “Any WBC champion that becomes champion of the world of a different division or in another organization, or any champion who wins two titles of different divisions, must relinquish one of those within the 15 following days after conquering the dual championship, with such title being declared vacant.”
“Double champions had 15 days to make a decision on what title to keep to stop fighters being the champions of more than one title, to have always open all divisions with activity for the so many fighters continuously fighting and winning to get a championship opportunity; the great Henry Armstrong was the simultaneous champion in three divisions, leaving all of the fighters in two of them without opportunities. This rule has been always respected, without exception.
“Great fighters have been double champions, but they have always complied with this rule: Sugar Ray Leonard, Julio César Chávez, Oscar de la Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Tommy Hearns, Pernell Whitaker, Wilfredo Gómez, Roberto Durán, and Wilfred Benitez, among many other champions of their time who are not below the greatness of Pacquiao, all to the contrary, as all of them were top boxing heroes who thrilled the fans to the maximum as well as being the pride of their countries and wrote in gold their names in the boxing history. All of them, without exception, complied with this important rule and treated and behaved with us with respect and loyalty, unlike Pacquiao, his promoter Bob Arum, and to some extent his representative, Mike Koncz, who never contacted the WBC within the 89 days that went by, and never reciprocated the WBC with the empathy, the idolatry and respect as we have always treated them. The WBC is not a beggar nor a sack of trash, and we have never, ever asked for pity. The WBC is the organization that gave Manny the opportunity 12 years ago to win his first world title, the flyweight, and later on five world championships in different divisions, as well as the maximum WBC award, which is the WBC Diamond Belt, that has been won only by Pacquiao in the 49 years of the WBC. Far away from thinking that we did wrong, we are very proud to have had our pants well tightened to defend the dignity and the honor of the WBC.
“One other news item that moved detractors, a few Mexicans among them, was the approval of the WBC to have the WBC super welterweight Silver Belt champion, Saul Álvarez, to fight against Matthew Hatton, the welterweight EBU champion, to fill the super welterweight title left vacant by Pacquiao, moved by the vested interests who even influence some of the media, when the WBC Board of Governors studied the special circumstances of seeing that while Álvarez was the #1, Alfredo Angulo #2, inactive for a long time after losing his visa and the USA court to recover it; #3, Paul Williams, whose last fight was a devastating K.O. commotion by Sergio Martínez; #4 Ryan Rhodes, being unavailable, and #5, Antonio Margarito, who has not yet received the medical approval to box again.
“Under those circumstances, the WBC considered very seriously that the fight Alvarez-Hatton had already been signed for March 5; also the opportunity to fill immediately the vacant title left by Pacquiao, instead of waiting five or six months to fill it. Also considered was the rule of the WBC that states that any rated boxer can fight for the title at any of the upper or lower divisions, as it has been the case always with all the champions mentioned above, as also Muhammad Ali, winner of a gold medal in the light heavyweight division; Erik Morales, Marco Barrera, El Travieso Arce, Pacquiao himself, Emile Griffith, Alexis Argüello, and so many other fighters through the decades, which is absolutely no different than the action taken by the WBC in favor of two boxers with 79 victories and only 4 defeats combined, when one is the undefeated WBC Silver Belt champion, while the other had three years as champion of the British Empire, and three defenses of his present EBU-EUROPE title. The WBC feels firmer than ever with its decision, while feeling sorry for the fact that boxing today is an industry where its people fight hard to tarnish the image of their rivals, when it would much better when fighting harder for their own victories and success.
“Mexico, Great Britain and Germany will have their champions’ opportunities to win WBC championships for their boxing fans and their own countries. The WBC is not a puppet, and will always struggle for justice, equality, and opportunities for all. So be it.”