Terry Flanagan, who reportedly was close to signing for a unification match with WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares, has switched gears, abandoning his WBO belt to compete as a junior welterweight. This was of the nature of a domino effect, prompted by the understanding that fearsome Terence Crawford, the universally recognized 140-pound champion, is moving up to 147.
There has been no formal announcement regarding Crawford, but yesterday (Oct. 25) the WBO ruled that representatives of their welterweight champion Jeff Horn had 90 days to come to agreement with the Crawford camp. Last we looked, Horn was slated to fight England’s little-known Gary Corcoran in Brisbane on Dec. 15. Perhaps that fight, akin to Flanagan-Linares, is now dead, but this is boxing so hold the phone.
Terry Flanagan, a 27-year-old southpaw from Manchester, England, won the vacant WBO world lightweight title in his hometown in July of 2015 when Jose Zepeda was forced to retire in the second round with a dislocated shoulder. In his most recent bout, he successfully defended the title for the fifth time with a hard-earned and rather messy unanimous decision over Petr Petrov. With 33 wins to his credit, 13 by KO, Flanagan currently has the longest undefeated record of any active British boxer.
Flanagan will reportedly leapfrog Maurice Hooker into the #1 slot in the WBO 140-pound rankings. A Texan from Dallas, Hooker (23-0-3) is expected to be Flanagan’s next opponent. “Turbo Terry” will be favored regardless of where the match is held, notwithstanding the fact that he has been coddled by his promoter Frank Warren and has yet to fight outside the U.K.
As for the title that Flanagan is vacating, the chief beneficiary appears to be veteran Ray Beltran (34-7-1) who has won five straight and went the distance with Crawford in 2014. The 36-year-old Beltran, who can still crack, is currently rated #1 by the WBO and WBC and #2 by the quirky IBF which has no fighter listed in the #1 hole.
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The WBO is holding the larger portion of their annual convention on a cruise ship in the Caribbean, but that hasn’t kept the organization from cranking out a steady stream of press releases. Today it was announced that the Nov. 25 fight between Sergey Kovalev and Vyacheslav Shabranskyy at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, televised on HBO, will be sanctioned for the WBO light heavyweight title vacated by Andre Ward.
Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) figures to have an easy time with Shabranskyy (19-1,16 KOs) who was taken apart by Sullivan Barrera the last time he moved up in class. The transplanted Eastern Europeans – Kovalev is from Russia, Shabranskyy from the Ukraine – both now reside in Los Angeles.
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