By Tim Rickson
Mauricio Sulaiman discusses Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk: “This is their time to do it”
Danny Flexen from SecondsOut interviewed WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman, following Tyson Fury’s successful world title defence, defeating Derek Chisora on December 3 in London.
From the Hyatt House hotel in Stratford, the 52-year-old Mexican said, “I’m very well, very happy. What a sensational weekend, I’m going home with a warm heart and great feeling from what I have experienced this weekend.”
Mauricio spoke in length about Fury-Usyk, Bivol-Beterbiev, provided updates on Canelo and Conor Benn, and ended with his boxing highlights of the year and his wish list for 2023.
On how one-sided the fight with Chisora was:
“You have to understand the greatness of Fury. He has all the attributes of a pound for pound great, and Chisora was very brave.
“I was expecting the corner to stop the fight a couple of rounds before. The Referee did a good job of stopping it, but the corner should have stopped it before. But, you have to recognise Chisora’s willingness and heart to continue.
“The British fans are the best in the world. Everytime I have been here, I come home with great memories and this was no exception, it was tremendous.”
On whether Chisora should retire now:
“I think that Chisora has had a great career and it was the last opportunity [to win a world title] and I think it would be time for him to evaluate retirement. He has a good life in front of him. You can never tell a fighter to quit, to stop, but I hope he does, but I respect him whatever he decides. Hopefully he will take a different path and he can do great things in boxing outside of the ring.”
On how likely Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk will fight next:
“Well, I think it’s very close. This is their time to do it. The time has aligned itself. The WBC will certainly approve it. We have ordered a final elimination, so it’s good timing to do the unified championship.”
On whether the IBF calling Filip Hrgovic as their mandatory will affect the making of this fight:
“Unfortunately, each organisation has their own rules, their own agenda, so we can only do what the WBC is enhanced to do. We all have discussed the importance to keep unified champions, especially undisputed champions, and hopefully this will be the case that we all cooperate so the fight takes place and the winner can continue undisputed down the road.
“If Fury wins, it is natural that the WBC mandatory would take precedence. If Usyk wins, then it’s the other side. It’s a matter of having four mandatories as an undisputed champion is complicated. We usually have a rotating system, but it’s just a matter of communications and good faith and flexibility.”
On how important it is for the WBC to have their champion win:
“With all due respect, I am with my champion. Fury is the best heavyweight, there’s no doubt about it. I’m very proud of him and he’s very proud of the WBC, he shows it every time he speaks and he shows his pride for the Green and Gold, and that is the great representation that we have. I always have to be with our WBC champion.”
On the current situation with Canelo and his mandatory obligations:
“We ordered, at the [WBC] Convention, a fight between the interim champion [David] Benavidez and Caleb Plant, so the winner of that fight is going to be the mandatory of the division.
“He [Canelo] is out, he had a surgery, he’s doing rehab, and we don’t the timeframe for him to return to the ring. We expect to talk to him by the end of this year to understand his plans. Then, once we have a date for Benavidez-Plant and we have a result then it all comes into shape.
“I think the best for him [Canelo] would be to stay at 168lbs. He has been super-welter, middle, super-middle, light-heavyweight champion; but without a doubt I say super-middle is his limit because he’s a small fighter.”
On a potential Beterbiev-Bivol fight:
“We have Beterbiev and of course we have a mandatory for the winner of Beterbiev-Yarde, who is Callum Smith, so that is something we cannot put aside. It was clear we allowed the WBO mandatory to go first, so now it’s the WBC’s turn. Hopefully it will go that way, if not, we’ll have to see then.”
On the WBC’s investigation into Conor Benn’s failed drug tests:
“We have had good cooperation from Conor Benn and his team, we are gathering information, they have provided documents; we expect to have a hearing during December, via Zoom, and hopefully we have a ruling by the end of this month.
“There is a committee that takes into consideration all of the facts, all the information regarding the case, I cannot get into specifics because I am not the one that has that information or that role, but hopefully we have a certainty by the end of this month.
“Every single case is different because the fighter is different, the substance is different, the circumstances is different, but at this time we are hopeful that will turn into a ruling as soon as possible. He has an attorney that is in contact with us.”
On why Conor Benn was removed from the WBC’s rankings:
“Boxing is not a game; here, if you have a doping incident, you’re not scoring goals or breaking a record of speed, you are punching somebody else, so this is the importance of the Clean Boxing Program, the effects it can have to a human being, I feel very proud of the WBC stance for clean boxing. We have spent a fortune and lots of time, with many headaches due to this, but we must be the leaders in making sure fighters are clean and safe.
“When you enter the top 15 of the WBC, you are required to enrol in the Clean Boxing Program. When Conor Benn entered the top 15, he was sent the documentation and he didn’t enrol and was put out of the rankings due to that fact; immediately he enrolled and he was back in the rankings, it is a matter of communications or I’m not sure what happened then, he enrolled once he was out.”
On 2022’s boxing highlights:
“Tyson Fury selling 160,000 tickets in a year; women selling out Madison Square Garden and the O2 Arena; the massive class we had in Mexico City, breaking the Guiness record of a boxing class; the grest fights in Japan, with Inoue and Triple G; Canelo-Triple G was a great event; I would say so many other good fighters we have seen, Errol Spence with Ugas, Chocolatitio against Estrada, I’m sorry if I’m missing a few but it has been a tremendous of year for the sport.
“And our Convention, it was a statement of unity and representation, a great WBC family where over 1,700 delegates met in Acapulco to make boxing better and safer. I’m very, very proud and I’m very excited for coming year.”
On his wish list for next year:
“Fury-Usyk; Spence-Crawford; Canelo-Benavidez; Taylor-Serrano 2; of course, Lomachenko-Haney is going to be tremendous, so many superb fights on the horizon.”
On boxing being removed from the Olympics and how the WBC could help:
“That’s one of the top priorities – amateur boxing, the Olympics… we are in great concern because, as of today, [Los Angeles] 2028 has no boxing, but we’ll work diligently to make it happen.”
Watch the interview in full here: https://youtu.be/q4h8lrYj4XE