By Luke Furman

The head of the International Boxing Federation (IBF), Daryl Peoples, made it clear that for his organization it was extremely important that the WBA change the championship status of Russian boxer Denis Lebedev, making the semi-final of the World Boxing Series (WBSS) between Murat Gassiev and Yunior Dorticos a true unification.

On Thursday, the World Boxing Association announced that Lebedev - who held the WBA's super title at the weight - would be downgraded to 'champion in recess.'

Also as part of that order, Dorticos - who had the WBA's "regular" title at the weight - was now elevated to full champion status.

Pursuant to the rules of the IBF, they do not recognize the WBA's "regular" title and would have never approved a unification fight without a full world title on the other side.

"This was very important for us, because according to our rules unification fights can only be held between full champions, so we were glad that the WBA took a step that was based on the logic of the success of this tournament. Of course, they could have asked to do an exception, and we would certainly have considered such a request, but I'm glad that it was done without this and we did not have to use our board of directors to make a ruling," said Peoples to Nikolay Ryazantsev 

Gassiev vs. Dorticos takes place on Saturday night in Sochi, Russia.

The winner of that contest will collide with WBO, WBC world champion Oleksandr Usyk in May in the WBSS final fight.

The overall winner will have a WBA ordered hanging over their head, as the sanctioning body - as part of their ordered to sort of the cruiserweight division - has directed the last man standing in the WBSS to make a mandatory defense against Lebedev, who as the 'champion in recess' has the right to call for an immediate shot.

Luke Furman covers boxing for