Manny Pacquiao Falls to the WBA’s Consistent Inconsistency
Likened to a military situation, Manny Pacquiao failed to protect his flank as he plans his return to ring action including potential clashes with MMA star Conor McGregor and a rising boxing lightweight phenomenon Ryan Garcia.
As a result, he lost his WBA welterweight super title and relegated to the ambiguous status of champion in recess, falling victim to the WBA’s notoriously consistent inconsistency in applying its championship policies.
The decision was reportedly made strictly based on WBA regulations. As Rule C.14 dictates: All boxers, promoters, and representatives must know and familiarize themselves with the WBA regulations.
On the other hand, Rule C.22-24 states that when a champion is unable to defend the title belt at the time specified, whether for medical, legal, or any other reason beyond his control, the Committee may appoint him as champion in recess and call the official contenders to fight.
Keith Thurman, from whom Manny won the super belt from was out of action for nearly two years like Manny due to medical reason (assortment of fight and training related injuries) but the WBA did not relegate him to the status of champion in recess.
The WBA in fact which had earlier promoted Thurman as super champion ordered Argentine Lucas Matthysse and Thai Tewa Kiram to square off for Thurman’s regular title to keep the ball rolling so to speak, with its sanction fee takes to boot.
Hence when Thurman was stripped of the WBC belt he won in his last fight versus Danny Garcia in 2017, his hold of the WBA title was super champion remained till his comeback in early 2019.
Could a simple case of proper communication and coordination (like mostly like Thurman and his camp did) have spared Manny from the unsavory sanction?
But Manny could have been lulled to a false sense of security by the importance given him by the WBA since July 2018 when the organization gave him a crack at its regular title then held by Matthysse even after just losing his WBO crown to Jeff Horn the year before.
Or the baffling moves made by the WBA after he had won the super title which seemed to give him deference and wider latitude on how to proceed with his career going forward.
Note that Manny has not fought under the aegis of the WBA previously since he won the first of his eight weight division world titles way back in 1998. He had fought for world titles under the WBC, IBF, WBO, the Ring Magazine even the minor IBO but never for WBA before.
It could be said that the WBA may have been only waiting for the right opportunity to lure Manny to its fold. And when that came after he lost his WBO belt to Horn, they grabbed it by offering him a crack to their regular title at 147 on the proverbial silver platter.
After winning the title by KO over Matthysse, the WBA then sanctioned his defense of the same versus American former belt holder Adrien Broner in January 2019 which Manny also won easily by decision.
Six months later, in July 2019, the organization sanctioned his fight with its returning American champion Keith Thurman for the latter’s WBA welterweight super title which Manny won by hard fought decision.
That’s three straight fights in the span of one year, i.e. July 2018-July 2019 accomplished involving Manny, all with the WBA regular and later the super welterweight titles at stake.
Manny justifiably took the rest of 2019 off.
In early 2020 came the offer from Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotion for a unification fight with WBO champion Terrence Crawford.
At that time, it was feared that the WBA might get in the way of the fight negotiations and order Manny to defend his super title against Yordenis Ugas who by then had won the regular belt he vacated, following the route. But to everyone’s surprise, the WBA ordered a fight for the interim title with the winner fighting Ugas prior to any meeting with Manny for his super championship. That freed Manny to pursue any unification fight talks with either WBO champion Terence Crawford or WBC-IBF champion Errol Spence.
It was in the midst of negotiations that the global Coronavirus Pandemic was declared which put almost all human activities, including boxing to a grinding halt.
When boxing returned to a semblance of normalcy later in 2020, there was hardly enough time for Manny to return to action even for a title defense given that the WBA had not issued any order or guidance on this regard.
Then suddenly, wham! The WBA announced that Manny has been relegated as champion in recess whatever that means and that Ugas has been promoted as super champion in his stead.
I don’t know if this has any precedent.
To make it appear that Manny is not the sole target, the WBA earlier issued sanctions affecting two other WBA champions, Mahmoud Charr and Dennis Ledebev who were stripped of their titles at heavyweight and cruiserweight for long time inactivity but with only Charr as champion in recess.
Manny’s status as champion in recess amounts to almost nothing. Particularly in this time of high stakes negotiating in big time boxing events.
What the WBA did to Manny was akin to constructive dismissal.
The WBA would not relish the role of the villain by outright stripping Manny of his title thereby transforming him once again into the uncrowned People’s Champion. Hence it found a creative way of getting rid of him as a non performing asset just the same by relegating him to the status of champion in recess.
I believe Manny should appeal this unjust decision. The current pandemic is more compelling reason for the extended inactivity than the medical, legal and other reason beyond his control as stated in the WBA rules.