With the news that WBC world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko has pulled out of his mandatory defence against Canadian Bermane Stiverne, several questions need to be answered.
Klitschko has not fought since September of 2012 when he defeated Manuel Charr in Moscow. Since this fight there have been many suggestions that Vitali is looking to retire and concentrate on his political career, with rumours suggesting Klitschko may run for presidency of Ukraine in 2015.
There have also now been suggestions that we will not see him box again following this hand injury as it is likely to keep him out for the rest of 2013. Klitschko himself says that he will be looking to return to the ring following his injury in 2014.
Stiverne (quite rightly, in my opinion) is annoyed and frustrated with the stance of the WBC for whom he has now won two elimination bouts to fight for the title without actually getting the shot. Many believe that due to the long delay in Klitschko defending his title he should be stripped of the title or made a champion in waiting.
Personally, I would like to see Klitschko made a champion in waiting with Stiverne is given the chance to fight for the title against a highly-rated contender. Then, when Klitschko returns to action in 2014, he gets an immediate chance to regain his title. This has happened several times over the years to champions but it appears as though the WBC are unwilling to do that here.
The Stiverne camp are suggesting that the WBC are favouring certain fighters and have used the example of Timothy Bradley, who was stripped of his title due to injury. The WBC have been quoted as suggesting that they would not do this to a champion like Klitschko. This is, in my opinion, disgraceful behaviour from a major organisational board. You cannot go around treating some fighters different to others in such unfair and blatant ways.
Eye of the Tiger Management's Camille Estephan said: "Bermane has done everything required and more to get his world title shot. Two winning title eliminators, three postponed purse bids, and now this. Why should he continue to be penalized for Vitali not defending his belt?”
I tend to agree with Estephan here as it is clearly unfair on Stiverne to have to wait longer for his shot when other champions - such as Andre Ward - have been stripped of their titles when injured and unable to defend.
It is not good for the sport to have a champion who does not defend his belt for over a year and is allowed to get away with it. The heavyweight division is the one that really gets people interested and plays a vital role in the success of the sport. You just can’t have a world champion who doesn’t defend his title.
For me, this situation is completely unacceptable and I really feel for Stiverne who has worked his way into position only to be held up yet again by the WBC as they look to help their current champion Klitschko.
The WBC seem to be unfairly favouring certain boxers.
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