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Charlo Designated To Fight Winner Madrimov-Crawford, WBA 154 Lbs Mandatory Vergil Ortiz To Face Tszyu For Interim Belt

WBA 154 Lbs Mandatory Vergil Ortiz To Face Tszyu For Interim Belt featured image
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 24: Terence Crawford (L) and Israil Madrimov of Uzbekistan (R) pose for a photo as part of a fight announcement for the Riyadh Season Card featuring their super welterweight fight later this year at the Charging Bull on April 24, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

The WBA has reached a resolution on the 154 lbs division with WBA mandatory challenger Vergil Ortiz Jr set to fight over the vacant WBA interim title against Tim Tszyu, while Jermell Charlo is expected to face the winner of Madrimov-Crawford that is set to commence on August 3rd.

The recently-drawn resolution by the WBA does not solve every issue as it pertains to the super welterweight/junior middleweight division, with their decision only drawing more concerns as to their ability to sanction boxing fights.

Notably, WBA champion-in-recess Jermell Charlo (35-2-1, 19 KO’s) will be afforded an opportunity against the winner between Israil Madrimov (10-0-1, 7 KO’s) and Terence Crawford (40-0, 31 KO’s) who will fight on August 3rd in Los Angeles. Though Charlo’s champion-in-recess status qualifies him to become the WBA mandatory upon deciding to return to the ring, there already was a WBA mandatory in place at 154 lbs in Vergil Ortiz Jr (21-0, 21 KO’s).

While Ortiz’ upcoming match on the undercard of Madrimov-Crawford will see him fight Tim Tszyu (24-1, 17 KO’s) for the WBA interim title, his mandatory challenger status virtually means nothing as Charlo is allowed to skip the line. As mentioned before, the WBA’s rules make it possible for Charlo as WBA champion-in-recess to become the mandatory challenger, but the decision to make the American 154-pounder a champion-in-recess would mean its incumbent mandatory challenger, Vergil Ortiz, must make due with an interim title.

It drives questions as to why Jermell Charlo had been placed as a champion-in-recess in the first place, with his last fight at 154 lbs having occurred against Brian Castaño in May of 2022. While Charlo did fight last year in September against Canelo Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KO’s) and eventually lost by unanimous decision (UD) to the undisputed Mexican champion, he did not fight at 154 lbs as he challenged Alvarez for all his titles at 168 lbs.

Additionally, the interim title that Ortiz might win is not the same as a mandatory challenger position, as it does not guarantee a title shot. What it does help is promote Ortiz to world champion if the situation warrants it; which at the moment relies on Terence Crawford winning the WBA title against its current holder Israil Madrimov, and subsequently moving back down to welterweight―which would force him to give up his 154 lbs title.

As Crawford holds three titles at 147 lbs―the WBA welterweight title included amongst them, the WBA has announced he has five days’ notice to relinquish either one of his WBA titles at 147 lbs or 154 lbs if he defeats Israil Madrimov on August 3rd.

Otherwise, the WBA might reintroduce the “regular” and “super” titles to the 154 lbs division which might give the winner of Ortiz-Tszyu an opportunity to promoted to world champion whether by promotion or a subsequent fight, but those distinctions in itself do not alleviate any issues with the “regular” title not considered a legitimate world title.

In essence, Vergil Ortiz Jr stands to gain the least out of all the parties at this point by fighting a former world champion in Tim Tszyu, with his mandatory position basically set to be superseded by Jermell Charlo if the former undisputed 154 lbs champion indicates his wishes to face the winner of Crawford-Madrimov. To make matters worse, Charlo has been inactive at 154 lbs for roughly two years, yet will be allowed an instant title opportunity despite losing to Canelo Alvarez last year.

It is also unclear whether the winner of Ortiz-Tszyu will become―or stay―the mandatory challenger, indicating that the WBA’s recent attempt to find a resolution continues to make their original decision to make Jermell Charlo the champion-in-recess―after stripping him of the WBA title―problematic.