World Boxing Association (WBA) Interim cruiserweight world champion Beibut Shumenov (16-2, 10 KOs), the only Kazakhstan-native to hold world titles in two different weight classes, is disputing the WBA’s sanctioning of the WBA “regular” cruiserweight world championship fight, May 20 in Paris, between two lower-ranked WBA fighters, No. 2 Yunier Dorticos and No. 5 Youri Kalenga (recently upgraded to No. 3).
Last July, Shumenov defeated B.J. Flores by way of a 12-round unanimous decision to become the mandatory challenger for WBA “regular” cruiserweight champion Denis Lebedev, who was later elevated to “Super” champion.
Lebedev hasn’t fought a mandatory defense in one year, ironically, when he won a 12-round decision over Kalenga, who had earned his world title shot, like Shumenov, by becoming WBA Interim world champion. The WBA granted Lebedev an extension in terms of his due mandatory defense because of the Russian’s unification fight May 21 in Moscow against International Boxing Federation (IBF) title-holder Victor Emelio Ramirez.
“I’m very disappointed the WBA is sanctioning Dorticos-Kalenga for its ‘regular’ cruiserweight title, when I am the No. 1 ranked and current WBA Interim champion,” Shumenov said. “I repeatedly informed the WBA through emails, texts and verbally that I was ready to fight back in January. I preferred to fight Lebedev but I was willing to fight Dorticos or anybody else in the top 15. For the past few months, I’ve been laboring over what I believe is a very bad decision, letting two lower-ranked fighters, the No. 2 and No. 3 guys, fight for the WBA ‘regular’ title. I am shocked and bewildered and do not understand the WBA’s rationale to have either of these fighters declared the WBA ‘regular’ champion without first defeating either Lebedev or me, the Interim champion and No. 1 rank contender.
“I appealed the decision but, so far, the WBA has done little in response to my appeals other than delay and stall before finally ruling that I will fight the Lebedev-Ramirez winner months from now, yet, ignoring my appeal to stop the regular title status of Dorticos-Kalenga and still sanction a fight between them, its No. 2 and No. 3 rated fighters, for the WBA ‘regular’ title. This is unfair to fans, who deserve to watch the best fighting the best, especially when a world championship is at stake! We now have this odd situation where there will be three separate WBA cruiserweight fights in May, all for a different version of WBA world title I just don’t feel anyone should get the WBA ‘regular’ title without first defeating a champion or at least the top-ranked fighter in the division. The WBA knew I was and am ready to fight. Its decision makes no sense and, in my opinion, diminishes the prestige and meaning of the title. I have respect for Dorticos and Kalenga but I think the legitimacy of any world title resulting from a fight between the No. 2 and No. 3 ranked contenders, when the No 1 mandatory contender who already holds the WBA Interim champion is ready and available, to say the least, is highly questionable.
“The WBA told me and announced to the media that it was working to have only one world champion in each division. While I’ve been sitting out the last four months waiting to fight, the WBA has decided to allow six different guys to fight for three WBA cruiserweight world titles, practically on the same day, instead of crowning only one WBA cruiserweight world champion. I look forward to returning to the ring and my manager, Al Haymon, has advised me that I will fight in May and we will announce next week. I want to thank everyone for their support and I apologize to my family, friends, fans and my country, Kazakhstan, for this chaos the WBA has caused that has damaged and delayed my professional boxing career. I will move forward and continue to fight inside the ring, letting my attorneys and manager fight this unfair situation outside the ring.”