After Andy Ruiz won the WBO/IBF/WBA Heavyweight titles by 7th round TKO of Anthony Joshua on Saturday night, Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn said at the post fight press conference the rematch was automatic and despite the WBO mandatory being first up for Ruiz, Hearn said he was assured by the WBO president Paco Valcarel that the WBO supported the immediate rematch clause in the contract and the mandatory defense would be deferred until after.
Nine days later, things have changed. Tyson Fury is saying Ruiz could now be stripped by the WBO for doing the Joshua rematch and the vacant title could go to the winner of this weekend’s Fury vs Tom Schwarz fight. Fury is ranked 2 by the WBO and Schwarz 3.
“I’m hearing now that it (WBO title) could be on the line on Saturday night,” Fury told Press Association Sport. “That’s inside information so maybe I shouldn’t have said that, though I’ve said it now anyway, so maybe it’ll be on the line on Saturday night. There is a chance. It’s highly doable, so I’ve been told, so maybe it’ll be for the WBO championship as well. When you’re the lineal champion that’s as big as it gets. It doesn’t get any bigger than that. It doesn’t matter how many belts (the other heavyweights) have got; they’ve got to beat Tyson Fury to be number one. (If not) the winner of me and Tom Schwarz will be mandatory for the WBO, because it’s number three and number two (in the rankings) fighting each other.”
Hearn, Joshua and Ruiz have to be steaming about this unexpected development which completely contradicts what Hearn said last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, based on what he was told by the WBO president Valcarel.
You have to wonder why the WBO would contradict it’s own position in the span of a week, a move that would cost the sanctioning body a hefty percentage cut of the Joshua vs Ruiz rematch which, promises to be massive. A lot more significant then the Fury vs Schwarz mismatch on Saturday night in Las Vegas which is not expected to produce sensational box office or viewership ratings.
As the business of boxing grows more complicated and perhaps corrupt, we can just imagine how simple and pure and easy to follow the sport must have been back in the old days when there was only eight divisions and one world title for each.