Andre Ward recently communicated to the WBC through his advisors, and to the public via a press release, his decision to relinquish his WBC Super Middleweight Emeritus World Championship. The WBC has vested the Emeritus World Champion honor only to a few elite, great champions. Legendary WBC champions like Vitali Klitschko, Floyd Mayweather and Erik Morales have received the Emeritus status when extreme circumstances temporarily interrupted their distinguished careers. In every instance the outcome has been fair and just for all involved , proving that this rule is a great provision.
Andre Ward perceived the WBC Emeritus Champion designation as being stripped of his world title belt. With all due respect to Andre’s opinions and feelings, it is imperative that the WBC clarifies to the public the chain of events that led to Ward’s designation as WBC Emeritus World Champion.
THE SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT SUPER 6 TOURNAMENT
From 2009 through the end of 2011, the WBC fully supported the super middleweight Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament. The WBC’s support was conditioned on the organizers allowing the full participation of the WBC Champion clearly stating on all communications that when the tournament was over, the WBC Champion was required to make a mandatory defense. On December 17, 2011, Ward won the Super Six tournament and the WBC Super Middleweight World Championship.
THE FIRST ORDER FOR MANDATORY DEFENSE
In the spring of 2012, the WBC ordered Ward to make a mandatory defense of his WBC title against Anthony Dirrell. Soon thereafter, Dirrell was involved in a motorcycle accident, which freed the mandatory commitment at that time. In an effort to keep the division active, the WBC agreed to sanction Ward’s fight against WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Chad Dawson as a voluntary defense of Ward’s title with the condition that the winner would make the mandatory defense in his next fight.
WBC ORDERED FINAL ELIMINATION TO DETERMINE THE MANDATORY CONTENDER
In October of 2012, the WBC ordered that the highest rated available boxers in the super middleweight division participate in a final elimination match. In December of 2012, during the WBC annual convention, the final elimination fight between Sakio Bika and Nikola Sjekloca was ratified, with the winner becoming the mandatory challenger for the world title.
WBC ACCEPTED TO SANCTION WARD VS PAVLIK VOLUNTARY DEFENSE
During the convention, the WBC approved the Ward versus Pavlik fight as a voluntary defense of Ward’s title. The winner of that fight would then face the mandatory contender without any intervening defenses.
WARD SUSTAINED AN INJURY WHICH LEADS TO SURGERY
In January of 2013, Ward underwent surgery to repair his injured shoulder and issued a press release announcing he would be unable to fight for an indefinite period of time.
BIKA BECAME MANDATORY CONTENDER
Bika became the mandatory challenger by beating Sjekloca on February 16 2013.
WBC ORDERED WARD VS BIKA FOR THE MANDATORY DEFENSE
On February 21, the WBC ordered free negotiations for the mandatory defense between Ward vs Bika. A reminder letter was sent on March 5.
WBC VOTED UNANIMOUSLY TO DESIGNATE WARD CHAMPION EMERITUS
In light of his indefinite incapacity, and the fact that the WBC has never received Ward’s medical clearance or a definite availability date, on March 23, 2013, the WBC designated Ward as the Emeritus World Champion by sending him a letter. The WBC announced that designation via a press release on April 9, 2013.
As the WBC Rules & Regulations clearly recognize, all World Champions enjoy many benefits, but also have obligations. Even the greatest WBC World Champions are called to honor their commitments to the WBC and to the fans by facing their mandatory challengers in a timely fashion. Floyd Mayweather just fulfilled his mandatory obligation facing Robert Guerrero, Klitschko will fight Bermane Stiverne, who is the mandatory challenger, just to give a couple of current examples.
The WBC granted the Emeritus Championship designation as a way to honor Andre Ward, and to give him sufficient time to recover from his injury while keeping the division active. The facts are clear: he boxed once in 2012, his last fight was nine months ago, and he has not been able to indicate when will he be ready to return to the ring .
The WBC continues to support Andre Ward and considers him a great champion. The WBC wishes Andre a prompt recovery and much success in his return to boxing and in his work as a boxing analyst.