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WBA Tries To Hide Incompetence By Ordering Erislandy Lara Vs. Michael Zerafa Again

WBA Tries To Hide Incompetence By Ordering Lara Vs. Zerafa Again featured image
While Erislandy Lara has been inactive for roughly 19 months, he is now facing his second mandate within 10 months to face mandatory challenger Michael Zerafa. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

The WBA has appeared to lost the reigns of their own authority following a mandate they again sent out on January 16th for Erislandy Lara to face Michael Zerafa. Though the WBA ordered this fight last year, the sanctioning body granted Lara an exemption last year in August to be able to fight Danny Garcia instead of Zerafa. However, now that the fight between Lara and Garcia has failed to emerge since being tipped for December in 2023, the WBA has again put out a mandate for Lara to face Zerafa.

The WBA’s reissuing of their order for Erislandy Lara to fight Michael Zerafa appears to hide their own ineptitude to handle this matter accordingly. The rules of the WBA state that Lara should have fought a mandatory after a period of nine months, yet Lara has not fought for nearly two years since defeating Gary O’Sullivan in May of 2022. Notably, O’Sullivan was not a mandatory opponent.

Things have been further complicated by the ‘regular’ and ‘super’ distinctions being removed last year to make Lara the sole world WBA middleweight champion, yet the WBA itself acknowledges that Lara was officially a world champion since 2021 after he defeated Thomas LaManna to claim the WBA ‘regular’ 160 lbs title, meaning that Lara should have been fighting a mandatory opponent since 2021.

Taking all aforementioned into account, Lara’s long bout of inactivity and inability to face a mandatory contender since 2021 has done nothing to dissuade the WBA to strip Lara for what would essentially be considered a refusal or incapability to follow their mandate for him to face a mandatory challenger in the designated period of nine months.

Another reason to strip Erislandy Lara should have been his inability to defend his title period after last fighting in 2022; whether he was defending his in a mandatory or voluntary match. Showing similarities to the case of WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo, Lara has not fulfilled his obligations as a champion due to being inactive yet he has not been punished accordingly.

In comparison to other cases of fighters being stripped for inactivity or avoiding their mandatory challenger, Jermell Charlo was forced to relinquish his title by the WBO on September 30th last year due to proving unwilling to fight mandatory in Tim Tszyu by fighting Canelo Alvarez at 168 lbs instead. The IBF did something similar, choosing to strip Terence Crawford of his IBF welterweight title over a rematch.

The WBA’s new mandate requires Lara and Zerafa to reset negotiations that should have already started in 2023, and the two have been given a negotiation period of 30 days from January 15 to February 15, whereafter a purse bid follow if both parties fail to reach an agreement.

This mandate appears to be hiding the WBA’s mishandling of Lara’s continued reign as the WBA middleweight champion, and ignores the fact this mandate had already been set out last year, but additionally that Lara has not fought any mandatory challenger since officially becoming a world champion in 2021―according to the WBA.

Though voluntary defenses are allowed, as was clearly the case when Erislandy Lara fought O’Sullivan in 2022, Lara has virtually been one of the worst WBA champions in the past two years yet is oddly given chance after chance despite numerous concessions having been made for him.

Ironically, both Lara and Zerafa have not fought for over a year; though the latter fighter’s inactivity might have something to do with the expectation that he would fight the former somewhere in 2023. However, Zerafa’s own inactivity has not been taken into account and he continues to be the #1 and the mandatory contender on the WBA’s middleweight rankings, despite there being several more active and deserving fighters who could easily fill in his spot.