It has been more than a month since World Boxing Association (WBA) world cruiserweight champion Beibut Shumenov (16-2, 10 KOs), based on the much publicized WBA Cruiserweight Tournament rules and regulations, petitioned the WBA to either declare a purse bid for a title fight between WBA Super cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev, or strip Lebedev of his title belt for being non-compliant.
Last July, Shumenov defeated B.J. Flores by way of a 12-round unanimous decision to become the WBA mandatory challenger for Lebedev, who hasn’t fought a mandatory defense since April 10, 2015.
The WBA issued a resolution this past April that Lebedev, who defeated Victor Emelio Ramirezin May to also become International Boxing Federation cruiserweight champion, must fight Shumenov within 120 days of the latter’s May 21, 2016 knockout victory over Junior Wright.
On record for making changes to insure only one world champion in each division, incredibly, the WBA presently has 38 different world title belt holders in only 17 different weight classes. Only three WBA divisions have one world champion – super lightweight, lightweight and light flyweight – and eight have three world titlists, including its cruiserweight division, which presently has world champions in Lebedev, Shumenov and Interim champion Yunier Dorticos, who is the WBA second mandatory challenger.
In an apparent public relations move, the WBA has suddenly declared this month a rash of mandatory defenses, however, declaring and actually making these title fights are two different things, as Shumenov has unfortunately learned. The WBA should have ordered a Lebedev vs. Shumenov purse bid on June 21, 2016, when the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, but the WBA failed to do so. When Shumenov repeated his request for a purse bid in June, the WBA failed once again to act.
WBA Rule D: Purse Bids
1. Call For Purse Bid. Bout participants shall reach an agreement on holding the bout no later than ninety (90) days before the expiration of the mandatory period. To confirm an agreement has been reached, the WBA must receive acceptable bout contracts signed by the boxers certifying they have reached terms for the bout. If no agreement has been reached, the Championships Committee, with the approval of the President, can call for Purse bid. A boxer may also request a purse bid at any time.
Lebedev’s promoter, Andrei Ryabinsky, has been quoted in stories about having a deal in place for his fighter to defend his IBF title first. In effect, the WBA is allowing Lebedev to hold the WBA Super cruiserweight title belt hostage, leveraging it against his IBF crown. Shumenov, who is a former WBA Super light heavyweight champion, has now proudly worn the WBA belt around his waist for a total of nearly five years.
“I was looking forward to fighting Lebedev and I don’t understand his unwillingness and refusal to step in the ring with me,” Shumenov said.
Team Shumenov is extremely disappointed in the WBA’s failure to act on making the fight with Lebedev that it mandated, in addition to being discouraged by the WBA’s failure, after several requests had been made, to either set a purse bid date or strip Lebedev of his world title belt. Not knowing if or when the WBA is finally going to rule has left Shumenov unable to book any fights. The WBA’s failure to enforce its own purse bid rule, or strip Lebedev, has unfairly prevented Shumenov from earning a living while at the peak of his pro boxing career.
Shumenov is the only native Kazakh to be a two-division world champion. Now a resident of Las Vegas, he also represented his native Kazakhstan at the 2004 Olympics in Greece.