Maskaev camp seeking WBC approval

Maskaev camp seeking WBC approval

In a letter to WBC president Jose Sulaiman set by both email and fax, Dennis Rappaport, promoter of WBC heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev has made an empassioned argument as to why Maskaev should be allowed to accept a lucrative fight with "champion emeritus" Vitali Klitschko before making his defense against mandatory challenger Sam Peter.
January 29, 2007

Jose Sulaiman, President
World Boxing Council


Dear Jose,

This is a follow-up to my e-mail to you of December 21, 2006 as well as the numerous telephone conversations with you in which I requested the WBC's sanctioning and approval of a Heavyweight Championship bout between Oleg Maskaev and Vitali Klitschko. Said bout would be Oleg's'next defense of his title.

Peter and his representatives are creating controversy by their blatant attempts at distorting the facts. Maskaev's next mandatory is not due until August 2007. Let's examine the facts as they are and let's remember that Maskaev has rights as the WBC Heavyweight Champion.

Vitali Klitschko stepped aside as the WBC Heavyweight Champion, due to injuries. He then agreed to retire as an undefeated champion having never lost as World Champion. The WBC guaranteed and declared that if he returned, as a former champion, he would be entitled to immediately fight the World Champion. After Klitschko retired, Oleg Maskaev was ranked #1, James Toney was ranked #2, and Hasim Rahman's status changed from interim champion to World Champion. The WBC decided that the #2 ranked Toney, who never fought a title eliminator, would be Rahman's 1st mandatory challenger and the winner would then fight the #1 ranked Maskaev, who fought and won a title eliminator, as a 2nd mandatory challenger. In March of '06 Rahman and Toney fought to a draw. Due to the controversial draw, Toney wanted an immediate rematch. The WBC determined that Rahman must fight Maskaev next, and that the winner of that bout would commit to fighting Toney in the next bout.

All Toney had to do was wait and be available to fight the Rahman-Maskaev winner. Instead of waiting and remaining available, Toney chose to pursue a lucrative opportunity to fight Samuel Peter. Maskaev faced a similar decision after his title eliminator fight against Samil Sam in November '05. As you recall, I spoke with you regarding my desire for an interim fight to avoid 9 months of inactivity. You recommended that Maskaev not take an interim fight, because if he did, it could be argued he was unavailable and potentially could lose the opportunity of fighting for the title. Why does the same standard not apply to Toney?

Toney fought Peter in September '06, the verdict was a split decision in favor of Peter. The vast majority of the media thought Toney won the fight. Because of the controversy, the WBC ordered a rematch in which Peter won a unanimous decision. It should be clear that once Toney decided not to wait to fight the Rahman-Maskaev winner, which took place in August '06, and instead decided to fight Peter in September, he made himself unavailable to fight the Rahman-Maskaev winner and therefore forfeited his right. Consequently, the WBC should never have approved the match between Peter and Toney in the first place.

Furthermore, there has been no explanation as to why Peter was entitled to step into Toney's position as mandatory challenger when he defeated Toney. Peter did not fight to a draw with then champion Rahman, Toney did. The very best scenario for Peter should be that he has a mandatory status. However, that mandatory status wouldn't be due until August '07.

The heavyweight division has had more mandatories in the last year than any other division in boxing. The WBC rules clearly provide that a champion has one year in which to fight the mandatory, and more often than not, as courtesy a reasonable extension may be granted. Peter's representatives claim that since he fought a title eliminator he should be granted special status. Allow me to remind you that Maskaev fought a title eliminator against Sam and the WBC nonetheless determined that Toney, who was not ranked #1 and did not fight an eliminator, be given priority to fight for the title over Maskaev, who fought and won a title eliminator and was rated #1. Does Peter deserve more consideration than Maskaev? Maskaev did it the right way, he earned it by defeating Samil Sam and becoming the #1 mandatory challenger and then by defeating Rahman by a knockout in a fight that the media and the fight fans described as one of the most exciting bouts in a very long time.

Jose, I have made repeated requests of you, via telephone, for the sanctioning of an Oleg Maskaev-Vitali Klitschko bout for the WBC heavyweight Championship. While Peter and his representatives scream inaccuracies about their rights, Oleg Maskaev deserves the rights given to him by the WBC, as the WBC Heavyweight Champion. He has every right to make a defense against Vitali Klitschko for the following reasons:

1. Maskaev has 12 months to make a mandatory defense per WBC Rule 1.21, b. Mandatory Defense Obligations

2. He clearly has the right to fight before then. He is a family man with 4 daughters and it would be unconscionable to deprive him of his right to maximize his earning potential.

3. Under your own rules and regulations for Championship Defense Obligations, Rule 1.21,b, x states:

'Under extreme special circumstances, such as a unification bout or a proposed bout with a legendary boxer, that could result in a great promotion, prestige, and importance for the sport of boxing, the WBC may sanction such bout as a mandatory bout. If a mandatory challenger had already been appointed by the WBC, the winner of the special bout will then face the mandatory challenger without an intervening contest'

4. WBC Rule 1.21, a) Voluntary Defense Obligations states '…..The defenses must be against:

i) any of the top ten (10) rated contenders;

i) upon a majority vote of the Board of Governors, any boxer rated from 11 to 19 positions;

ii) a champion or a top-10 rated boxer of another immediate lower or higher weight division, subject to the majority vote of the Board of Governors;

iii) a former or retired world champion upon majority vote of the Board of Governors; and

iv) another boxing organization's champion recognized by the WBC, upon majority vote of the Board of Governors.

Vitali Klitschko is the WBC Champion Emeritus, but more significant, he's a former champion who never lost the championship in the ring. He was undefeated as the WBC World Heavyweight Champion. Furthermore, the WBC, upon Klitschko giving up the title, publicly stated that if he elected to continue his career, he would receive an immediate opportunity to fight for the title against whomever held the WBC Heavyweight Championship at that time.

A Maskaev-Klitschko fight would be to boxing what fresh oxygen would be to a suffocating man. It would greatly enhance the integrity, dignity, and prestige of boxing.

As per the WBC rule 1.21, b) '….All WBC recognized champions are obligated to make at least one yearly mandatory defense against the designated official challenger.' By the WBC's own rules, Maskaev has until August 2007 to fight a mandatory defense, and the WBC should not deprive him of the rights given him by their own rules and regulations.

We expect the WBC to protect and uphold Oleg Maskaev's rights as the WBC World Heavyweight Champion.

Procrastination and delay in making a decision to sanction Maskaev-Klitschko will create lost opportunities and diminished revenues. This is a huge promotion and we must be able to commit a date to international television. The onsite Russian promoter must commit to a date or lose the availability of a site. There are many more arrangements that must be made. I respectfully request that you expedite this matter and immediately approve and sanction the Maskaev-Klitschko bout. Time is of the essence.

Thank you for your kind consideration,

Yours truly,
Dennis Rappaport
Promoter of Oleg Maskaev

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