Sulaiman: Lopez is the undisputed champ, leading man at 135lbs

Boxing is a confusing sport at the best of times. Yet one of the most bewildering aspects of the fight game is the WBC’s murky situation at lightweight.

The sanctioning body somehow claims three ‘world’ champions in the 135lbs division with Californian puncher Ryan Garcia joining the party after his impressive seventh round KO of Luke Campbell in Dallas on Saturday.

That victory handed Garcia the WBC interim title at 135lbs yet the famous green and gold belt is already owned by the sanctioning body’s ‘Franchise’ champion Teofimo Lopez and full title holder Devin Haney, neither of whom are injured. Cynics will not have escaped the fact that the WBC receives three sanctioning fees for having a trio of champions.

In a farcical situation, undisputed champion Lopez and the Las Vegas based Haney regularly dispute who is the WBC’s ‘real’ champion on social media with the vast majority of fight fans siding with the Brooklyn man after his win over pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko last October.

To provide some clarity, WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman has confirmed that WBA Super, WBO, IBF and WBC franchise champ Lopez is indeed the ‘undisputed’ and man to beat at lightweight, holding the major title of each sanctioning body.

“Teofimo Lopez is the undisputed lightweight champion,” Sulaiman told The Ak and Barak Show. “And whoever beats Teofimo, if there is someone who beats him, he must be called undisputed.

“I have spoken with Devin and his father. And I think the franchise designation was created recently by the WBC. The idea and purpose is to provide the best fights for the fans. And I’m very happy that this year, in the lightweight division, that was achieved. 

“Through the franchise naming, we got to see the fight between Teofimo and Lomachenko, and we saw Devin Haney recovering from his injury to fight [Yuriorkis] Gamboa. We also saw Ryan Garcia against Luke Campbell.

“I understand the confusion with the belts and perhaps the frustration. But we take the path of watching the best fights. I respect Haney, I’m very proud of him, I’m very close to him, and it’s just a matter of all of them getting in the ring and forgetting all of that discussion on social media. Get in the ring and show who is the best. That’s what everyone wants to see.”

In theory, Garcia will face Haney next for the WBC’s full title at lightweight, but ‘KingRy’ has expressed his desire to face the WBA’s Regular champion Gervonta Davis instead. It’s a bemusing state of affairs, but ultimately boxing is about the fighters you beat and not the belt you hold.

Boxing Social currently ranks Lopez No.1, Garcia No.4 and Haney No.5 in the lightweight division.