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Canelo Alvarez, Floyd Mayweather Both Hold Same Title from WBA & 40 Thieves

By Ivan G. Goldman

Although Saul “Canelo” Alvarez thought he lifted the WBA light middleweight title Saturday night from Austin Trout, that’s only partly true. And it’s not his fault. The WBA alphabet gang is so greedy it actually has two fighters holding precisely the same 154-pound “super” championship belt, both at the same time. Honest.

004 Canelo vs Trout victory IMG_4398
Photo: Tom Casino/Showtime

Can you imagine the NFL, NBA, or major league baseball claiming at the end of the year that two teams won the same championship? Of course not. The fans wouldn’t stand for it. But although this particular situation is new even to boxing, fight fans learned long ago that when it comes to titles, almost anything is possible.

Alphabet gangs love to bestow titles on boxers because it allows them to extract “sanctioning” fees from fighters. Over the years they have learned to award geographical titles, “interim” titles, and even “youth” titles. These days they also charge sanctioning fees in “elimination” bouts that offer no titles at all. As each gang comes up with a new fee-producing gimmick, the others immediately copy it. In the future, maybe they’ll start extracting fees from the fighters’ mothers or award titles for tattooed and non-tattooed fighters. Maybe I better stop giving them ideas.

Anyway, in Canelo’s case the WBA chiselers exceeded all previous scams. They gave him a title for beating Trout, but Mayweather holds that belt for beating Miguel Cotto a year ago. Apparently they were loath to strip Floyd, everybody’s Number One pound-for-pound fighter, but they were also loath to let the title lie unused on Mayweather because he fights only occasionally and favors the welterweight division. He will defend his WBC welterweight belt against Robert Guerrero, the WBC “interim” champ.

Last month the WBA listed Mayweather as its “super” champion in the 154-pound division and Trout as its “world” champion. But it also awarded a “super” belt to Canelo after the victory over Trout and didn’t strip Mayweather. Gilbert Mendoza, who oversees the WBA gang, says he will figure all this out later. Honest. That’s his story. He will ask Floyd pretty please to tell him whether he expects to defend his 154-pound belt any time in the future. Mendoza could try “ordering” a title fight between its two “supers,” but clearly he’s afraid to demand anything from either of them. It would be terribly embarrassing if one or both disobey. Then everyone might figure out this WBA emperor has no clothes. The truth is, you could hear loons babbling in subways whose pronouncements make more sense. It’s important to Mendoza that no one figures this out.

You might expect that the WBA will just bump Mayweather out of the picture, but in the past these title factories have awarded belts and claimed later that they were just kidding or something. Graciano Rocchigiani once captured the vacant WBC light heavyweight title by defeating Michael Nunn by split decision, but the WBC claimed later it was only the interim title. Rocchigiani eventually won a $31 million lawsuit over that one. The WBC settled later for an undisclosed sum that came in installments. This should be a lesson to the WBA, but these guys don’t always learn the obvious lesson.

Canelo, who already held an undisputed WBC 154-pound belt, wants to fight Mayweather, and of course Mayweather says he would like to fight Canelo, but unfortunately Mayweather’s pronouncements sometimes have a way of turning out to be a long way from what actually transpires. He said for years that he would like to fight Manny Pacquiao, that he hoped the match would “happen,” apparently believing that multi-million-dollar fights “happen” all by themselves without anything as mundane as, say, a contract signing.

Right now Mendoza and the Forty Thieves of the WBA have egg on their faces and dollars in their pockets, but if they don’t make a move soon somebody might notice their ridiculous greedy double-dealing has exceeded even their previously ridiculous greedy double-dealing. Their entire phony structure could be in danger. They’re behaving like the two con-men producers in Mel Brooks’s “The Producers” who parceled out several thousand percent ownership in their Broadway production.

At some point Showtime and Golden Boy Promotions, which are stuck with each other and also tied to both fighters, might have to intercede to iron out those identical titles. But they, like the WBA, don’t want to anger either Canelo or Floyd, who, because of their ability to pull in fans, hold plenty of power. So far the promoter and the network have gone along with the WBA without talking about the problem, apparently hoping that maybe no one will notice.

Reading Goldman’s critically acclaimed novel Isaac: A Modern Fable {Permanent Press, 2012) is a fine experience the author wishes for each and every one of you. So buy it. Information HERE

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