When one becomes a champion in boxing, scores a championship belt for a weight division in a professional boxing association, in exchange for holding his title he is expected to defend it against challengers. Furthermore, he needs to be doing it as often as can be done. If a boxing champion sits on his belt without fighting another opponent for quite a while, the awarding organization might have something to say or maybe do about it. Currently legendary Filipino boxer and incumbent Senator Manny Pacquiao is the WBA (super) welterweight champion. But because he has not fought again since winning the belt in 2019, the WBA has changed his status.
According to ESPN, the World Boxing Association (WBA) has re-designated its super welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao as a “Champion in Recess.” This was announced by the Panama-based major pro boxing organization in an official stated dated January 29. Due to not having participated in a WBA-sanctioned boxing match since becoming welterweight champion over Keith Thurman back in 2019, the WBA has seen fit to give the title to a more active welterweight boxer in their organization, Yordenis Ugas of Cuba.
The WBA quoted from their organizational guidelines on declaring champions in recess, namely those boxers with titles from their organization who has been unable to defend their championship against an opponent for “medical, legal or other reasons beyond his control.” Clearly the third reason, the fact that Pacquiao is an increasingly busy Philippine Senator plus the fact that most professional boxing matches have been put on hold by COVID-19, are why this has taken place. But it is not as if Manny has been left to dry by the WBA. As champion in recess, if he wishes to fight the current active titleholder then their match will get organizing priority, but only within 180 days of being champion in recess.
Even in the middle of the COVID pandemic, talks on upcoming professional boxing matches continue, with some of them actually getting to play out. An American fighter, Ryan Garcia, has gotten attention for trying to get Manny Pacquiao in the ring, although Golden Boy Promotions is uncertain that will happen. Meanwhile, Yordenis Ugas with the WBA welterweight title actively with him has his sights on Errol Spence, current holder of the counterpart weight division belts from the IBF and WBC. The winner of this potential bout will unify three titles.
Image from World Boxing Association