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Sulaiman says Tony Bellew is still WBC ’emeritus’ champion

By Tim Royner: World Boxing Council president Mauricio Sulaiman says Tony Bellew is still the WBC’s ’emeritus’ cruiserweight champion ahead of his title fight against IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO unified champion Oleksandr Usyk this Saturday night at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.


It was believed that Bellew’s time as the WBC emeritus champion started on May 29, 2016 and expired on March 29, 2017. It really doesn’t matter though. If Bellew can’t beat Usyk, his time as the WBC emeritus champion will end on Saturday. The WBC isn’t going to grant Bellew an honorary emeritus status just for the fun of it.

The WBC chose not to strip Bellew of his title after he failed to defend his title against his mandatory challenger Mairis Briedis, and moved up to heavyweight to fight David Haye twice. The WBC gave Bellew the emeritus status after his title defense against BJ Flores in October 2016. Bellew then moved up to heavyweight to face Haye twice. The WBC then freed up their WBC cruiserweight title, which was one by Briedis, the fighter that Bellew and his promoter Eddie Hearn weren’t excited about facing. It’s probably a good thing that Bellew didn’t fight Briedis, as he likely would have lost and then he wouldn’t have made the big money in his two fights against injured David Haye.

“Tony Bellew is the WBC emeritus champion,” Sulaiman said to skysports.com. “We cannot forget the relationship between Bellew and the WBC. When he lost as mandatory contender against [Adonis] Stevenson, he went down in perception. He went to cruiserweight and the WBC allowed him to fight for the vacant championship.”

Bellew’s career as a top fighter was seen as being over with after he as stopped in the 6th round by Adonis Stevenson in November 2013. However, Bellew then moved up to cruiserweight and beat a string of lower level opponents until he was matched against Makabu for the vacant WBC belt in May 2016. Bellew stopped Makabu in the 3rd round to win the vacant WBC cruierweight belt. In hindsight, it was lucky that Bellew fought Makabu and not Usyk, Briedis, Yunier Dorticos, Denis Lebedev, Murat Gassiev or Krzystof Glowacki, because all of those guys were around at the time. The WBC chose for some reason not to rank them highly. They instead ranked the flawed Makabu high with their organization, and this allowed Bellew to win the WBC cruiserweght belt that he might not have otherwise won. Call it luck on Bellew’s part that the WBC ranked the ideal opponent [Makabu] that he could beat, and not guys that might have beaten him [Usyk, Gassiev, Dorticos, Glowacki and Briedis].

Bellew is getting the title shot against Usyk not because of his WBC emeritus title. Usyk chose to fight Bellew because he’s popular in the UK, fights for the same promoter as him, and he’s a former champion. Even if the WBC didn’t still have Bellew as the emeritus champion, he’d still be getting a fight against Usyk.

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