Floyd Mayweather Jr. is scheduled to have the final fight of his illustrious career Sept. 12, but he’s going to be doing it with one less championship on the line.
The World Boxing Organization (WBO) stripped Mayweather of the WBO welterweight (147 pounds) title on Monday — the same championship he added to his large trophy case after he defeated Manny Pacquiao in their highly anticipated — but underwhelming — fight. The WBO stripping Mayweather of the title isn’t the result of any recent criminal activity. The sanctioning body’s actions were a result of money and rule breaking on Mayweather’s part.
According to the WBO, Mayweather did not pay the $200,000 sanctioning fee by the July 3 deadline. The WBO requires fighters to pay up to 3 percent of their purse — a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $200,000 — in order to fight for a world title. This sanctioning fee is less than 1 percent of Mayweather’s $235 million purse.
The second reason for the WBO’s action is because Mayweather hasn’t vacated his light middleweight (154 pounds) championships after winning the welterweight title from Pacquiao. It’s against sanctioning rules to allow fighters to hold championships in different weight classes. Unlike the WBO, the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council have allowed Mayweather to hold their 147-pound championships.
After his bout with Pacquiao, Mayweather said he would discuss with his team the possibility of vacating the WBO welterweight title to allow other fighters a chance to compete for the belt.
“I want to give other fighters a chance,” Mayweather said during a post-fight press conference. “I’m not greedy. I’m a world champion in two different weight classes. It’s time to let other fighters fight for the belt.”
In the past, Mayweather, who has won championships in five different divisions, has vacated his world titles when he’s moved up in weight. It seems Mayweather had a change of heart and decided to keep the championship. He even asked for a deadline extension of Aug. 1, however the sanctioning body refused the champion’s request and proceeded to vote on whether or not to strip him of the belt.
The WBO 147-pound title won’t be without a champion for long. Timothy Bradley, who became the interim welterweight champion after defeating Jessie Vargas in a controversial decision in June, will be elevated to world champion status. This is Bradley’s second reign as the WBO welterweight champion. He first won the title in 2012 after he defeated Pacquiao via a controversial decision. In accordance with the rules, Bradley vacated his light welterweight titles to keep the 147-pound belt he won. Pac-man regained the welterweight title in 2014 after he beat Bradley in their rematch.
From a fan’s standpoint, the WBO’s actions seem petty and the latest evidence of corruption in the sport. But from their view, why should a fighter be allowed to keep the title if he doesn’t follow the rules? It’s also unfair to other fighters to have someone holding titles in more than one weight class. If you had a challenger going up against Mayweather for his light middleweight titles, he’d have to wait until the champion decides to defend his title against him. Of course Mayweather has defended his light middleweight titles with a title defense once a year.
I say let Bradley keep the title and defend it. Mayweather is on his way out the door in September where he will compete in his last fight against an unnamed opponent. For Mayweather the welterweight title does have sentimental value since he won it from Pacquiao, a longtime adversary. But does he really need it? He’ll more than likely vacate it, along with the rest of his championship titles — assuming that his retirement sticks. Mayweather briefly retired in 2009 after his fight with Ricky Hatton. The retirement lasted less than two years.
Some fans may criticize Bradley and claim “he’s not the real champion,” and “it belongs to Floyd” but the boxing world is going to have to move on when Mayweather finally hangs up the gloves for good.
Of course, Mayweather could always challenge Bradley for the title in September and reclaim the belt that was taken for him, becoming a two-time WBO welterweight champion — even if it is just for one night.