Future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao is still a world champion. Well, kind of.
Pacquiao was designated by the WBA as a “champion in recess,” the sanctioning body said in a statement on Friday night. With the vacancy, Yordenis Ugas has been promoted to become the WBA’s top titleholder in the welterweight division.
The WBA’s guidelines state that the recess can be invoked “when a champion is unable to defend the belt for medical, legal or other reasons beyond his control.” No specific reasons were given for the change in the WBA’s statement.
Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) hasn’t fought since July 2019, when he beat Keith Thurman in a split decision to win one of the four major belts in the 147-pound division. Pacquiao’s name has been floated for future bouts against WBO champion Terence “Bud” Crawford and junior lightweight contender Ryan Garcia.
Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs) has won three straight fights since a split-decision loss to Shawn Porter in March 2019. Ugas most recently won a split decision over Abel Ramos last September.
Manuel Charr (31-4, 17 KOs), who held an inferior version of a WBA heavyweight belt, was also named a champion in recess. He hasn’t fought in more than three years. The governing body also stripped cruiserweight Beibut Shumenov (18-2, 12 KOs) of his version of the division’s belt because of inactivity since his last bout in July 2018.
Anthony Joshua holds the top WBA heavyweight belt, while Arsen Goulamirian has the WBA’s best cruiserweight title.