A Belgian boxing world champion
At the age of 28, Ryad Merhy is the first Belgian to become world boxing champion. He won the belt outside the ring but will soon have to fight for it against the Cuban Yuniel Dorticos.
The WBA (World Boxing Association), one of the four major boxing federations, has just made the official announcement. Ryad Merhy is the new world champion in the light heavyweight category (-90.719 kg). However, he won the belt without fighting, as the defending champion, the Kazakh Beibut Shumenov, refused to fight him for too long.
As a result, Ryad Merhy had already been considered the interim world champion since 19 October 2019, when he defeated the Hungarian Imre Szellő by KO in Charleroi. With 29 victories including 24 by KO, and only one defeat, he has an excellent record and fully deserves this title won outside the ring. But to confirm his world championship title, he will have to defeat his challenger, the Cuban Yuniel Dorticos. His team hopes to organise the fight on Belgian soil.
It should be noted that in the past, other Belgians have had the privilege of entering a ring to win a major title. However, Jean-Pierre Coopman in 1976 (against the legend Muhammad Ali), Jean-Marc Renard in 1989, Alex Miskirtchian in 2014 and Stephane Jamoye in 2013 and 2014 all failed to beat the defending champions.