Mauricio Sulaiman On Lomachenko vs Lopez: “For This Fight, The Winner Will Be Designated As The Franchise Champion”


By: Hans Themistode

It turns out that Devin Haney’s title run may have been a hoax. 

This coming Saturday night, both Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez will look to settle their differences once and for all. For the past several months, their contest has been promoted as an undisputed title fight. Something that Devin Haney is incredulous too. 

The 21 year old California product, currently holds the WBC lightweight title while Lopez is in possession of the IBF belt. Lomachenko on the other hand, has a stranglehold on both the WBA and WBO titles. The 32 year old did at one point have Haney’s world title but it was taken away from him in light of the WBC Franchise title. 

Several fans, media members and even boxers are still confused over the exact meaning of the Franchise title. Mauricio Sulaiman, President of the WBC, understands the confusion that the Franchise label gives off whenever it’s mentioned. 

In order for either Lomachenko or Lopez to be considered the undisputed lightweight champion, a bout with Haney has to take place first. Or at least, that was the original thought. 

Although Haney is technically listed as the full champion, his title reign could be considered a phony one.

“Lomachenko is the WBC lightweight champion,” confirmed Sulaiman during a recent conference call. “He won and petitioned for the Franchise designation. The Franchise is put above any champion in the lightweight category. So, Lomachenko is in fact champion with special attributes.”

Sulaiman went on to further clarify that although many find the Franchise tag a confusing one, without it, Lomachenko vs Lopez would never have taken place. At least, not so soon.

“Lomachenko doesn’t have to face the mandatories that normally come when you win a vacant title. He was named Franchise and he could go ahead and make this fight with Teofimo Lopez. The concept of the Franchise (champion) is to be presented to very fighters who have specific set of attributions, like Canelo (Saul Alvarez) and Lomachenko. They have been fighting in several weight classes. The Franchise designation with Lomachenko permitted him to have this fight with Teofimo Lopez.”

Although Haney would go on to become Interim champion late last year, he was quickly elevated to full champion once Lomachenko was officially Franchised. It appears that a road to undisputed does in fact still run through the Ukrainian Lomachenko and not Haney after all. 

As mentioned on previous occasions by Sulaiman, the Franchise title is more of a designation rather than an actual title. It cannot be won regardless if said Franchise champion losses in the ring. 

If the hard hitting Lopez manages to take home the win this upcoming weekend, the Brooklyn native would have been extremely unsatisfied with walking out of the ring with only three belts as opposed to four. 

With that being said, team Lopez made it their duty that their man won’t be shorted a world title this Saturday night.

“For this specific fight, we received a request from Teofimo Lopez. For this fight, the winner will be designated as the Franchise champion. We have previously stipulated that this is not normally put on the line. But we are proud to have this event with all of the championships on the line.”

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