Pulev vs Oquendo for WBA Regular title: How we got here (Mercy!)Written by Leroy Cleveland
The wacky world of boxing just won't change.
It appears Kubrat Pulev will face Fres Oquendo for the mock-up WBA (Regular) title, which is the poor man's version of the real and legit WBA title.
Try to figure that one out.
“Yes, I can confirm that my co-promoter, Roy Jones, Jr.’s Square Ring Promotions, and I have spoken to Kubrat Pulev’s promoter, Sauerland Event in Germany, about promoting [Fres] Oquendo and Pulev for the WBA Heavyweight Championship here in Chicago sometime early next year,” promoter Bobby Hitz told BoxingScene.com earlier this week.
“There are large Puerto Rican and Bulgarian populations in Chicago, and it just makes sense to do the fight here."
So how did this happen?
In Fall 2013, Alexander Povetkin, then the WBA regular champion, requinshed his title to step up and face then consensus champion Wladimir Klitschko. As a result, Ruslan Chagaev would win the vacant WBA (Regular) heavyweight title the following year by defeating Fres Oquendo.
In March 2016, Ruslan would lose the title after being knocked cold by Lucas Browne but would later be reinstated as champion after the latter failed a post-fight drug test. Chagaev, however, would eventually be stripped of that title for failing to a) honor his previous commitment to give Oquendo a rematch and b) pay sanctioning fees.
Because Oquendo, who subsequently won a lawsuit against Chageav after the latter reneged on a rematch, had the right to fight for the title next, he was a lock to contend for the vacated belt; Now, it was the WBA's job to find a new opponent.
Enter Shannon Briggs.
Last summer, ex-heavyweight champion Briggs was slated to face Oquendo for the vacant WBA (Regular) heavyweight title but the former would test positive for performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) a week or two prior to that bout leaving Fres without an opponent, again, until now.
Bulgaria's Kubrat Pulev, originally slated to face red hot IBF champion Anthony Joshua tomorrow, pulled out of that fight a few weeks ago citing an injury. And now it appears he's been conveniently selected to fight Oquendo for the vacant (regular) belt.
Was Pulev injured or did he know something we didn't?
By fighting Oquendo, Pulev won't earn as much as he would have against Joshua but it's a wise business move because he'll stand to earn more long-term should he defeat Fres. And yes, Pulev, a heavy underdog versus Joshua, will be a strong favorite against Oquendo.
And given Chicago's significant Puerto Rican and Bulgarian populations and the fact he'll be fighting for a world title (although a minor one), Pulev vs Oquendo will likely generate some buzz.
But what about Luis Ortiz, the WBA's top contender?
Originally slated to face WBC champ Deontay Wilder this fall, Ortiz recently failed another drug test and will likely face a suspension.
In hindsight, Pulev vs Oquendo is not all bad. After all, Pulev is rated No.3 by RING Magazine and his lone loss is to Wladimir Klitschko.
Oquendo, who turns 45 in April, hasn't fought since his points loss to Chagaev in 2014.
WBA HEAVYWEIGHT RANKINGS (SEP 2017)
WBA SUPER CHAMPION ANTHONY JOSHUA
1 LUIS ORTIZ CUB
2 ALEXANDER USTINOV RUS
3 FRES OQUENDO PUR
4 MANUEL CHARR GER
5 ALEXANDER POVETKIN I/C RUS
6 CHRISTIAN HAMMER ROU
7 KUBRAT PULEV BUL
8 DILLIAN WHYTE JAM
9 TREVOR BRYAN USA
10 BJ FLORES NABA USA
11 OTTO WALLIN SWE
12 JARRELL MILLER USA
13 CHARLES MARTIN USA
14 KYOTARO FUJIMOTO JPN
15 GUILLERMO JONES PAN