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WBA Grants French Champion Arsen Goulamirian Permission To Face Gilberto Ramirez Instead Of Mandatory Despite Prevalent Inactivity

WBA Grants French Champion Arsen Goulamirian Permission To Face Gilbert Ramirez featured image
Arsen Goulamirian was previously ordered to face Yuniel Dorticos, his mandatory challenger, but the French fighter has now opted to face Mexican sensation Gilberto Ramirez. (Photo by Pacal Della Zuana/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

French WBA ‘super’ cruiserweight champion Arsen Goulamirian may have bitten off more as he can chew as the WBA grants him permission to face Mexican former world champion Gilberto Ramirez instead of his mandatory; Cuban fighter Yuniel Dorticos. While Goulamirian has been one of the least active world champions in recent memory, the French fighter appears dead-set on fighting Ramirez first rather than focusing on his mandatory Dorticos.

The WBA based their decision on a request they had received from Arsen Goulamirian (27-0, 18 KO’s) and his team to face Gilberto Ramirez (45-1, 30 KO’s), and the WBA subsequently granted the fighter permission to do so under the condition that the winner would need to face Yuniel Dorticos (26-2, 24 KO’s) in 120 days. Dorticos had been the mandatory challenger to Goulamiran’s WBA cruiserweight title since 2023 and both fighters had been ordered and expected to face each other long before .

WBA went on to cite two of their rules to explain their decision:

  • WBA Rule C.16 may modify periods of mandatory defenses for good cause, either in response to a request for special permission or on its own initiative. Alternatively, the agency may modify or suspend the strict application of these rules when the WBA deems them justified in its sole discretion to accommodate special circumstances.
  • WBA Rule C.46 states that such reasons include “participating in an optional title defense,” “participating in a bout of recognized importance and significance to the boxing world,” or “extending or otherwise modifying a mandatory defense period.” WBA Rule C.46.a, e and g.

Arsen Goulamirian and his team’s motivations for filing this request have not been publicly divulged, but a monetary reason can be speculated as Gilberto Ramirez is arguably a better known name in the boxing world, and he is further considered a top-rated cruiserweight contender since moving up from 175 lbs last year.

However, Ramirez might even prove more of a threat than Dorticos given he has been more active than Dorticos in recent years. He is also younger, 32 compared to Dorticos’ age of 37, and therefore can provide a better match for Goulamirian than an older, weathered and inactive Dorticos.

Goulamirian’s own inactivity further spells problems for himself having last fought in November of 2022. Before his 2022 fight against Russian contender Alexei Egorov (12-1, 8 KO’s), Arsen Goulamirian had remained out of the ring for roughly three years, partially due to COVID but also due to circumstances that have yet to be clarified.

It is yet unknown why Goulamirian was even able to hold onto his WBA cruiserweight title for a period of three years between 2019 and 2022 without it being vacated. The WBA’s own rules draw a line in how long a champion can hold onto a title without fighting and state that a champion has four months at minimum to defend a title, or nine months at most if they had been the mandatory prior to becoming a champion.

WBA Grants French Champion Arsen Goulamirian Permission To Face Gilbert Ramirez image 1
WBA’s rule C.10 describing the amount of time champions have to defend their titles.

Despite the WBA granting permission for Goulamirian to face Ramirez, they have overlooked the most crucial part of their own rulebook and ignored the fact that Goulamirian has twice fought over their designated period of a champion needing to defend their titles. Barring Goulamirian’s three years of inactivity, the French champion has again neglected to face anyone in 2023 since fighting Egorov in late 2022, and has gone over thirteen months without defending his title.

Goulamirian first won the WBA as an interim title in 2018 where upon he was later promoted to ‘super’ champion after ‘regular’ WBA champion Ryad Merhy chose to reject a direct mandate to face Goulamirian by vacating his title; with Merhy having previously fought Goulamirian before in 2018 for the interim title in a match he lost by technical knockout (TKO).

The WBA’s inconsistency in Goulamirian’s inactive-ridden championship run appears to not matter in the slightest as the French fighter is now set to negotiate terms with Gilberto Ramirez. Optimistically, if Ramirez is to come out on top and become the WBA ‘super’ champion, there is an opportunity for a more active and ambitious champion to emerge.

In the meantime, Yuniel Dorticos is planning his own fight in 2024 prior to facing the winner between the potential Goulamirian-Ramirez bout. Like Goulamirian, Dorticos is also rather known for his inactivity and last fought in December of 2022.