What’s next for WBC champions and mandatory challengers?

The 56th annual WBC convention is taking place this week in Kiev, Ukraine, and Wednesday saw the most significant aspect of the gathering, as the sanctioning organization determined the plan for each of its world titleholders and ratified its mandatory orders.

Here is a division-by-division look at what is in store — though keep in mind this is just what the WBC wants to happen. Fighters ordered to face certain opponents in title fights or eliminators have the option of going in another direction with another organization.

  • Cruiserweight: Oleksandr Usyk, the undisputed champion who holds all four major belts, will defend them against former titlist Tony Bellew on Nov. 10 in Manchester, England. There is no mandatory challenger at this point.

  • Light heavyweight: Champion Adonis Stevenson will make his mandatory defense against interim titlist Oleksandr Gvozdyk on Dec. 1 in Quebec City. The winner has six months to make an optional defense but was ordered to face former titleholder Badou Jack after that in a mandatory fight. Jack fought to a draw with Stevenson on May 19.

  • Super middleweight: Due to the recent disclosure that titleholder David Benavidez tested positive for cocaine in a random drug test as part of the WBC Clean Boxing Program, he was stripped of the title at the convention and made a “champion in recess.” Benavidez had been due to face mandatory challenger and former titlist Anthony Dirrell, who was instead ordered to fight Avni Yildirim for the now-vacant belt. Once Benavidez is cleared to return, he has the option of immediately fighting for the title again.

  • Middleweight: Unified world champion Canelo Alvarez, fresh from his razor-close decision over Gennady Golovkin to win two belts on Sept. 15, can make a voluntary defense this year; he might fight on Dec. 15. Meanwhile, interim titlist Jermall Charlo was ordered to make a mandatory defense against Golovkin, with the winner becoming Alvarez’s WBC mandatory challenger.

  • Welterweight: Because Shawn Porter won the vacant title against Danny Garcia on Sept. 8, he must make two mandatory defenses in a row, per WBC rules. The first mandatory challenger has not been determined. The second mandatory challenger is Andre Berto, who recently defeated Devon Alexander in an eliminator. Also, when former titlist Keith Thurman, who owns a win over Porter but vacated the WBC title (and still holds the WBA’s top belt) due to injury, returns to the ring, he has the right to immediately fight for the WBC belt.

  • Junior welterweight: Titleholder Jose Ramirez outpointed Antonio Orozco on Sept. 14 and is allowed to make another voluntary defense. Two of the WBC’s top-rated contenders, Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor, are involved in the forthcoming World Boxing Super Series tournament, so Adrien Broner and Jorge Linares were ordered to meet in a final eliminator. Also, former titlist Viktor Postol and Mohamed Mimoune were ordered to fight in a semifinal elimination bout.

  • Lightweight: Mikey Garcia is a unified titleholder and will next make a mandatory defense of his IBF version of the title against Richard Commey. His WBC mandatory challenger is Luke Campbell, who outpointed Yvan Mendy in a final eliminator on Sept. 22. Also, Javier Fortuna and Zaur Abdullaev were ordered to fight in a final eliminator to become the mandatory challenger following Campbell.

  • Junior lightweight: Titleholder Miguel Berchelt and mandatory challenger Miguel “Mickey” Roman are scheduled to fight on Nov. 3. Former titlist Francisco Vargas was ordered to face Eduardo Hernandez in a final elimination fight to become the next mandatory challenger. Shavkat Rahkimov and Jhonny Gonzalez were ordered to meet in a semifinal eliminator.

  • Featherweight: In an unusual move, titlist Gary Russell Jr. was ordered to fight WBA titlist Leo Santa Cruz. The WBC has no way to force another organization’s titleholder to fight a unification fight, but a Santa Cruz-Russell showdown is something both fighters have said they want. The fight has also been on the agenda of Premier Boxing Champions, which they are both part of, and Showtime, so the WBC is seemingly just trying to help further facilitate a marquee fight in a loaded division.

  • Junior featherweight: With titleholder Rey Vargas recovering from shoulder surgery and also suffering from pneumonia, the timetable for his return is unclear, so Abigail Medina and Tomoki Kameda were ordered to meet for the interim title, with Vargas having to face the winner upon his return.

  • Bantamweight: Nordine Oubaali and Rau’shee Warren are due to fight for the vacant title on a date to be determined later this year. The winner will be ordered to face Petch Sor Chitpattana, who stepped aside to allow Warren to fight for the title. The belt was vacated when Luis Nery was stripped for missing weight for a title defense/rematch with former titlist Shinsuke Yamanaka.

  • Junior bantamweight: Champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai will make an optional defense against Iran Diaz on Saturday in Bangkok, Thailand, and will be allowed a second voluntary defense if he wins. After that, Sor Rungvisai must face mandatory challenger Juan Francisco Estrada, who outpointed Felipe Orucuta in a final eliminator on Sept. 8 in the “Superfly 3” main event.

  • Junior flyweight: Ken Shiro defends his title against former titlist Milan Melindo on Sunday in Yokohama, Japan. Jonathan Taconing and former strawweight titleholder Hiroto Kyoguchi were ordered to meet in a final elimination bout to produce the next mandatory opponent.

  • Strawweight: Titlist Wanheng Menayothin, who moved to 51-0 with a unanimous decision over Pedro Taduran on Aug. 29, is in a voluntary stage. Simphiwe Khonco and Tsubasa Koura were ordered to meet in a final eliminator to produce his next mandatory opponent.

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