Heads of the World Boxing Association reflected earlier this year on removing title belts, especially in the welterweight division.
With the retirement of former super champion and “Champion in Recess” Manny Pacquiao, two honors were merged into one as the Filipino senator was named “Champion of the Century” in his place.
Confusion reigned as Pacquiao was first stripped of the super strap and given the nickname “Recess”. The “Pacman” then lost against the new super champion Yordenis Ugas.
After hanging up his gloves, Pacquiao no longer holds an official title with the WBA, leaving Ugas and Jamal James on a collision course with the organization.
James is currently “Regular Champion”, but with the WBA wanting to put less emphasis on this belt, Ugas will meet the American if he passes his next test.
Once that’s on the books, there should be one champion left. The situation arises after Gabriel Maestre was also stripped of the interim championship.
By issuing a statement on James, the WBA confirmed the date and location of his next fight.
“Jamal James and Radzhab Butaev will fight for the World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight title on October 30 at the Virgins Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Premier Boxing Champions is promoting the fight, which will be broadcast on Showtime and will be part of the box-off commissioned by the WBA to set a single champion at 147 pounds.
“This will be James’ first title defense. After beating Thomas Dulorme in August of last year, he won the interim title and was elevated to champion on February 4.
“Meanwhile, Butaev was waiting for this opportunity after having fought Alexander Bespoutine, who tested positive for banned substances.
“Now the Russian will have his chance to fight for the black and gold belt.
“The winner of this fight will have to face the winner of Yordenis Ugas against his obligatory challenger, the Lithuanian Eimantas Stanionis, who will fight for the super championship in the coming months.
“Once the box-off is over, there will only be one champion in the category.
“James has a record of 27 wins, one loss and 12 knockouts. While Butaev has a record 13 wins, one loss and ten knockouts.
Since the abolition of all interim titles, WBA titles have grown from 55 recognized belt holders to just 28.
Fans only want seventeen, one in each weight class. And rightly so.