Some curious developments with sanctioning body the WBA and Don King, writes Eric Armit
ON January 29, Beibut Shumenov will defend his WBA secondary cruiserweight title against the unheralded Raphael Murphy at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida on a Don King-promoted bill. This came as a surprise to interim belt-holder Ryad Merhy.
In November, the WBA sent a letter – seen by Boxing News – to Shumenov, instructing him to enter into negotiations for a mandatory defence against interim titlist, Ryad Merhy. The deadline for a deal was December 31.
Merhy’s team waited for negotiations to begin but nothing happened. On January 6 they saw an online report stating that Shumenov would be fighting Murphy instead.
The following day, Merhy’s team received notification from the WBA, alongside a copy of an application from Don King Productions (dated December 29) requesting special permission from the WBA to approve a voluntary defence against Murphy.
Murphy is 35 years old and his record, 14-1 (11), makes for bleak reading. Though ranked number eight by the WBA, he is inactive since August 2019. Back then, he defeated Larry Pryor (record, 11-20 and the loser of six of his last seven bouts) on a four-round decision. Before that Murphy stopped Oswaldo Ortega (3-11) in two rounds in May 2019, Juan Reyna (6-9-1) in one round in July 2018 and, in February 2017, Hugo Trujillo (2-0-1) beat Murphy in five. Needless to say, none of those opponents were ranked by the WBA.
Topping the bill in Florida is Manuel Charr – inactive since 2017 – defending his secondary WBA heavyweight belt against Trevor Bryan.