Arsen Goulamirian has become the sole claimant to the WBA cruiserweight title.
All he has to do now, is defend it.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Belgium’s Ryad Merhy is no longer recognized as the WBA secondary cruiserweight titleholder, relinquishing such status on Friday. The development came as the deadline neared for Merhy and Goulamirian to meet in a title consolation clash per the WBA’s title reduction policy.
“Belgian Ryad Merhy formally resigned his world champion position and will not face the bout ordered by the WBA championships committee between the two fighters,” WBA Championship Committee chairman Carlos Chavez stated in a letter to both parties, a copy of which was obtained by BoxingScene.com. “The former champion sent his letter of resignation to the WBA stating his reasons for taking another route in his career and not fighting Goulamirian in the mandatory fight.”
The WBA contacted both fighters in July to confirm their plans to enter a title consolidation clash, which would have been a rematch of their March 2018 interim WBA title fight won by Goulamirian via 11th round stoppage. A 24-hour deadline was issued to Goulamirian and Merhy to respond, with both complying with the order.
Interestingly, Merhy (30-1, 25KOs) was already attached to a rumored showdown with WBC cruiserweight titlist Ilunga ‘Junior’ Makabu, a bout previously scheduled for September 30 but which no longer appears to be in play.
Merhy also recently stated his intention to campaign in the WBC-exclusive Bridgerweight division, which carries a maximum weight limit of 224. The division hasn’t been embraced by many but does provide greater flexibility for boxers struggling to make the 200-pound cruiserweight limit and not yet prepared to make a run at heavyweight.
Goulamirian (26-0, 18KOs) will now move on to the next challenge, though that has proven to be easier said than done. The France-based boxer of Armenian descent has not fought since the pandemic, with at least three fights falling through in the past three years including the ordered clash with Merhy.
Plans were in place for Goulamirian to defend against mandatory challenger Aleksei Egorov (11-0, 7KOs) last November. However, the fight was canceled at the eleventh hour after Goulamirian tested positive for Covid. Neither boxer has fought since then, with Goulamirian’s last ring appearance coming in a December 2019 knockout win over then- unbeaten Constantin Bejenaru in Marseille, France.
Egorov remains the number-two challenger in the WBA cruiserweight rankings, one spot behind former two-time cruiserweight titlist Yuniel Dorticos (25-0, 23KOs).
Goulamirian was advanced to WBA ‘Super’ Cruiserweight titlist upon the divisional departure of undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13KOs)—now a unified heavyweight titlist—in 2019. Just two title defenses have come of his reign, though both taking place six weeks apart at the end of the year.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox