The WBC has added another Franchise Champion to its ranks, this time with a proposed four-man tournament to resolve the super flyweight title situation.
In a new development by the WBC, Juan Francisco Estrada has been named WBC Franchise Champion, meaning his super flyweight title is now vacant. As a result, the WBC announced that it has approved a bout between mandatory challenger Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Carlos Cuadras for the now-vacant title. As for Estrada, a trilogy bout against Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez has been approved, with the winners of both fights set to face each other.
“After receiving the input of all involved parties and considering their respective positions, the WBC Board of governors has voted unanimously in favor of the WBC Super Fly Tournament, which will provide the necessary structure for the WBC Super Flyweight Division and will give boxing fans around the world a series of great upcoming bouts,” the WBC announced.
This comes fresh off Estrada’s exhilarating rematch against Gonzalez on March 13 in Texas, where Estrada won by split decision to unify the WBA and WBC titles. The fight is remembered as much for its tremendous action – more than 2,500 punches thrown between both men – as for its deflating conclusion, which saw judge Carlos Sucre score the bout 117-111 in favor of Estrada. David Sutherland scored the bout 115-113 for Estrada while Jesse Reyes was the only judge to score it in favor of Gonzalez at 115-113.
The public outcry from many in the sport over Sucre’s scorecard resulted in him being temporarily suspended by the WBA, with WBA President Gilberto Mendoza saying he did not like the judging of the bout.
Although a trilogy fight would have been the natural next step, Estrada was bound by his obligation as WBC champion to fight mandatory challenger Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The WBC previously stated that whoever walked out of the Estrada vs. Gonzalez rematch as the WBC champion would have to face Sor Rungvisai next with a target date around August and September.
Estrada took to social media to comment on the recent development regarding the WBC and a third fight against Gonzalez.
“I want to thank the WBC and [WBC President] Mauricio Sulaiman for being named as WBC Franchise Champion. It is an honor for me to be recognized as the second Franchise Champion in the history of Mexican boxing. I am very happy for the challenges that are coming and ready to show who is clearly better in a trilogy against my friend Roman Gonzalez or with a fight against anyone such as Rungvisai, [IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin] Ancajas, [WBO super flyweight champion Kazuto] Ioka,” Estrada said.
Should the proposed fights end up being made, it would likely continue the super flyweight division’s excellent run of high-action fights involving all four men. The Estrada vs. Gonzalez rematch is considered by many to be the current frontrunner for 2021 Fight Of The Year, while Estrada’s rematch against Cuadras last year was also regarded as one of 2020’s best. Estrada also has two action-packed bouts against Sor Rungvisai under his belt in 2018 and 2019.
Estrada is the latest boxer to be given the WBC Franchise designation. The Franchise designation was a concept created in 2019 and initially given to Canelo Alvarez. At the time, Alvarez was the WBC middleweight champion but the Franchise designation freed him from fulfilling a mandatory title defense against then-interim titlist Jermall Charlo. Afterwards, Charlo was elevated to full champion and Alvarez never fought at middleweight since the promotion.
The other instance of a boxer being named Franchise Champion is Vasiliy Lomachenko. Like with Alvarez, Lomachenko was freed from fulfilling WBC mandatory title defenses and opened the door for Devin Haney to be elevated from interim lightweight titlist to sole champion. Lomachenko was defeated by Teofimo Lopez last October and Lopez is considered the Franchise Champion at lightweight.