The recent decision by the World Boxing Council (WBC) to assign a “Franchise champion” tag to World middleweight champ Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez has created confusion among what any longer qualifies as a title or unification bout.
Among the other WBC titlists named by the sanctioning body as future candidates for the label is unbeaten heavyweight Deontay Wilder, who with his next win will record his 10th successful title defense. A date has yet to be assigned for such a fight, which reportedly will come in the form of a rematch with top-rated contender Luis Ortiz.
Whenever it takes place, the promise from the challenger is that the public won’t have to worry about what to call Wilder.
“He will be an ex-champion after our fight, plain and simple,” Ortiz (31-1, 26KOs; 2 NCs) assured BoxingScene.com. “People like (fellow challenger Dillian Whyte) are worried about the WBC vacating the title and making him a franchise champion. What they should be more worried about is facing me once the belt is around my waist.”
The 40-year old Cuban southpaw—who now lives and trains in Miami—came dangerously close to unseating Wilder in their thrilling war last March. Ortiz recovered from a mid-fight knockdown to badly stun the defending titlist towards the end of the 7th round of their Showtime-televised headliner at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Minor controversy ensued in the immediate aftermath, as Wilder was saved by the bell and then granted an extended timeout as he was examined by a ringside physician prior to the start of round eight. Conspiracy theorists claim the break gave the unbeaten Alabama native enough time to recover, surviving the scariest moment of his pro career to once again drop and eventually stop Ortiz in the 10th round of their instant classic.
Ortiz has won three straight since then, including a pair of knockouts to close out 2018. His most recent performance was far less inspiring, laboring his way to a 10-round win over Christian Hammer this past March. It was enough to extend his win streak and also secure a second crack at his lone in-ring conqueror, with their budgeted Showtime Pay-Per-View headliner to take place in October or November.
A win by Wilder could ultimately free up the WBC title, as the sanctioning body is already prepared to declare him a franchise champion. Of course, he still has to win his next fight in order to reach that point.
“Everyone can stop worrying about what will happen if he wins, because that’s the one thing that won’t happen,” promises Ortiz. “Forget franchise champion, just get ready to call me WBC champion after I beat Deontay Wilder.
“If the WBC still wants to make up a title for Wilder, they can just call him the out-of-business champion, because that franchise is getting shut down.”