Sulaiman says WBC Diamond belt a ‘maybe’

MMA


WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has told ESPN that his world governing body will consider sanctioning Floyd Mayweather Jr against Conor McGregor for one of its belts.

Mayweather, boxing’s biggest superstar before retiring in September 2015, faces UFC lightweight champion McGregor in a fight that splits opinions but will make a nine-figure fortune at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Aug 26.

The pair meet in a super-welterweight (154 pounds) boxing match which will also be Irishman McGregor’s first professional contest and presents Mayweather with the chance to improve his record to 50-0.

Despite Mayweather’s inactivity, Sulaiman says a belt other than their world super-welterweight title strap could be on the line.

Asked if the WBC Diamond belt — an honorary championship awarded to the winner of a historic fight between two elite boxers — could be on the line for Mayweather-McGregor, Sulaiman told ESPN: “Maybe, I don’t know. I’m not against it. Of course this is a WBC board decision but we have to celebrate that boxing is having world attention regardless.”

Mayweather, now 40 and lives in Vegas, is still the WBC’s champion emeritus at super-welterweight while American Jermell Charlo is the WBC super-welterweight champion.

“Mayweather retired as champion so he was awarded the champion emeritus and we never thought he would return to boxing,” Sulaiman told ESPN.

“He was great, retired a millionaire and was a great icon for the sport. Now he has decided to return and fight a mixed martial arts superstar so it is difficult to evaluate.

“When you have a Muay Thai fighter in Thailand, they make their career and then they jump into international boxing and many have been very successful.

“McGregor has been successful in MMA but in boxing rules it’s going to be a very difficult challenge for him.”

Sulaiman is unsure if Mayweather will return to the world governing body’s super-welterweight rankings after fighting McGregor and says he has had no contact yet from the fighters’ promotional teams.

“I don’t know if we would rank Floyd Mayweather after this fight,” Sulaiman told ESPN.

“We need to receive from the promoter if they want any intervention from a boxing organisation. We do medicals, we do drug testing, weigh-ins and specific boxing matters that helps the promoter with the organisation to conduct safely an event.

“We haven’t received anything yet and we don’t know what Mayweather wants to do.”

But Sulaiman expects the former pound-for-pound No. 1 to overcome 28-year-old McGregor, who is the UFC’s biggest star name and has won titles at featherweight and lightweight.

“It’s hard to say if it’s a mismatch,” Sulaiman told ESPN.

“I personally don’t see a way that Mayweather can lose to McGregor because it’s in boxing and you are talking about Floyd Mayweather, the greatest tactical fighter who has intelligence and speed.

“If Mayweather was a confronting head to head fighter, it depends upon the strength and power, and McGregor brings strength and power. But I don’t see him bringing boxing ability that counter acts Mayweather.”

Critics have dismissed the fight as a mismatch between a generation’s best boxer and a champion in five weight classes against a UFC two-weight champion who has never boxed professionally or as an amateur.

Sulaiman insists boxing will not be damaged by Mayweather-McGregor, which will come close or even better the record $623.5 million revenue made when Mayweather beat Manny Pacquiao in 2014.

“Not at all, especially not for boxing,” Sulaiman told ESPN.

“The UFC has been claiming that it is overpowering boxing and diminishing the value of boxing.

“August 26 is going to show how a boxer in boxing is very much dominant over any UFC fighter. If it was in the cage I couldn’t say.

“McGregor has been successful in MMA but in boxing rules it’s going to be a very difficult challenge for him.”



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