WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman discusses Joshua vs Ngannou fight
Here’s what the 54-year-old had to say:
Will Anthony Joshua be mandatory to the WBC title if he beats Francis Ngannou?
MS: “Anthony Joshua was first ranked by the WBC when he started as a professional and then he kept moving up and was ranked inside the top five and then number 2 ranked when he received the opportunity to fight for another title (the IBF).
“He has had a sensational career and if he beats Francis Ngannou, then he is number one in the WBC while Francis Ngannou is number 10 so the winner will certainly be positioned for great things in the immediate future. We will see what happens as there are fights that need to happen before we elaborate on something else but both Fury vs Usyk and Joshua vs Ngannou are both very interesting fights.”
Could the winner of Fury v Usyk face the winner of Joshua v Ngannou?
MS: “The WBC already sanctioned Fury v Usyk and the rematch. We received the request and have already accepted a rematch if the promoters put it together so that’s where the WBC stands. If the promoters change their request for the rematch, we will certainly address it.”
What’s your thoughts on Saudi’s plans to stage the winner of both fights next for their own version of undisputed champion?
MS: “I love it. Anything that comes into the sport for the benefit of boxing and the fighters, we have always supported. We supported the World Boxing Super Series, we supported DAZN when they started, the PBC when they started also. This new concept of boxing with Saudi Arabia, with one of the most important people in the world loving boxing, how can you go against it?
“We have to adjust, support and find new ways to make things happen and not resist it. We have met His Excellency Turki Alalshikh and he is a boxing lover and we will support it but I don’t know about specific things but we will offer our highest level of support to make things happen. Let’s build on it and have all of the promoters work together for the sport.”
What did you make of criticism for adding Francis Ngannou into the WBC’s top 10 ranking list in the heavyweight division?
MS: “I’m proud and laughing with joy as we did receive criticism and questions, but I also received really nasty comments about myself, the WBC and the rankings but I explained why he is ranked. He came from a sport where he was successful which is part of the WBC criteria and performed against the WBC heavyweight champion very good and that is why he is ranked. Now he is fighting Anthony Joshua and nobody is saying anything. I’m sure his fight with Anthony Joshua will be tremendous too.”
How important is Fury v Usyk for boxing?
MS: “It is a huge fight, much needed for the sport and will be massive on fight week and when the bell rings, I can only imagine the atmosphere in the arena. All eyes will be on this fight. It is a fight which took a long time, a long process but now it is a reality.
“I’m very proud that the fight is happening because we are very sensible and visionary (about not installing a WBC mandatory for Tyson Fury previously). We like to not overreact and think things to make the proper steps and decisions. We are not in a popularity contest, and we are often criticised which is good as I understand and it makes you better but it will never influence a decision when we analyse all of the aspects of topics to be ruled on. I like professional criticism but if people are aggressive and personal then I don’t get involved.”
What have you made of Tyson Fury as WBC champion?
MS: “Tyson is the most outspoken, loyal WBC champion who is always proudly wearing the WBC logo on his t-shirts, his belts and caps. Every time I call, he responds and when I ask him for messages for kids, people who are sick, he does it immediately. Tyson is a family man, a wonderful person and a role model for overcoming adversity.”
Where would Tyson rank if he beats Usyk on the all-time list?
MS: “Tyson had life threatening addictions and mental wellness problems and now he’s on top of the world and motivates millions. I’m very close to Tyson and he represents the WBC. Today he is the best heavyweight without a doubt and if he beats Oleksandr Usyk then he is undisputed champion and on top of the world. If Usyk beats him, then he will be the best of today.
“It’s difficult to compare eras when you have Jack Johnson in the early last century, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Mike Tyson and more, it is very difficult. I don’t like to engage on where they list on the best of history but when somebody like Tyson finishes, he has a legacy and people can say where he ranks.”
What did you make of Fury v Ngannou?
MS: “I have never been involved in an event of such magnitude in terms of production, the attendance and so many legendary champions, football players, MMA, entertainers were at the fight. The hotels were a dream, the interviews and then the production where there was no ring in the arena. There was a music act and then the ring comes from the floor, it was amazing.
“The fight was a great, positive surprise. Francis Ngannou dropped Fury but Tyson was able to measure the distance and the style but Ngannou takes a punch very hard but also punches very hard, but Tyson eventually won by split-decision. It was a great performance by now but now the undisputed fight is coming next.”