The World Boxing Association (WBA) has taken the step of upgrading current WBA cruiserweight world titleholder Yunier Dorticos to full status champion, as the countdown to the anticipated WBSS cruiserweight semi-final scheduled for Saturday (Feb 3rd) continues. The move has come as a great relief to all parties after doubts began to arise from the Dorticos camp that they might have to vacate the WBA (regular) title in order to challenge Murat Gassiev who holds the IBF cruiserweight title. It is extremely rare for the three other governing bodies to allow unification with the WBA’s “regular” world title, due to WBA having a “super” title throughout a number of the divisions in boxing. Dorticos elevation to full/super champion status comes after Denis Lebedev agreed to move and become champion in recess, which allowed Dorticos to be recognised as “full” champion status and allows his fight with Gassiev on Saturday to qualify as a legitimate unification.
Dennis Lebedev and Murat Gassiev fought each other in December 2016, originally a scheduled bout which would see Lebedev his IBF & WBA world titles against Gassiev. However, a deal was struck leading up to the fight which saw Gassiev agree to not contest the WBA title. Gassiev would defeat Lebedev via points to win the IBF title, with Lebedev keeping hold of his WBA title despite the defeat. Lebedev has defended his WBA title once since the defeat to his compatriot Gassiev, coming in July last year against Mark Flanagan and claiming a comfortable points verdict.
As part of the deal, the WBA have allowed the full title to be contested in the World Boxing Super Series and say they will not interfere with the status through the remaining duration of the tournament, scheduled to be completed in May with the cruiserweight final to be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The WBA have stated though that “the winner of the tournament must negotiate with Lebedev’s team starting on May 13, and they will have 30 days to reach an agreement or the fight will be called to a purse bid.”
This weekend’s fight between Gassiev & Dorticos is to take place in Sochi, Russia.