|Diamond Belts in the Rough
By JD Camacho, DoghouseBoxing.com (Aug 15, 2009)
Last week, the World Boxing Council issued a press release concerning the creation of the WBC Diamond Belt, “a honorary championship exclusively for fights between elite boxers.” The press release then highlights “catch weight” fights as the new policy’s primary focus. Also this week, pound-for-pound king and boxing’s top ambassador Manny Pacquiao expressed interest in the sanction of his November bout with Miguel Cotto as the inaugural Diamond World Championship.
Normally, news like this would seem necessary and sensible on the surface. But a single glance at the policy from any boxing fan most likely elicits groans, moans, and eye-rolls. Why do fights need to be labeled as “championship” affairs? Will any casual fan, much less hardcore fan, refuse to buy Cotto Pacquiao just because it may not be for a major title? Even on the surface, this “Diamond Belt” policy seems nothing more than a money grab and a mockery of sporting championships.
The press release fails to outline the exact rulings regarding Diamond champions. Do Diamond champions have to fight at a catch weight again to defend their belts? Do Diamond champions choose who they fight next? Is every fight for the winner afterwards a Diamond championship fight? Are there Diamond rankings? Diamond super champions? Diamond champions in recess? Diamond champions emeritus?
The policy’s vagueness troubles more so in another way. The policy appears to give the WBC the right to sanction ANY bout between ANY two fighters as a Diamond championship. At least according to the press release, the Diamond Belt does not abide by any ranking system. The imprecise language of the release is most evidenced in the term “elite.” Who determines which fighter is elite? If the WBC has sole judgment over whether or not a fighter is “elite,” then the WBC retains the right to deem any fighter of any distinction as eligible for a Diamond championship.
Perhaps the precise rulings for Diamond Belts are more stringent. Perhaps Diamond championships will truly be rare and spectacular occasions. Perhaps the WBC truly has the best intentions for boxing in mind. But for many, the past reputation of the one of the world’s foremost sanctioning bodies suggests otherwise.
It’s something to keep an eye on.
I’m reticent to over-hype Timothy Bradley. After all, Devon Alexander beat Junior Witter more decisively than Bradley managed, Kendall Holt dropped Bradley twice, and the Nate Campbell bout was, at worst, inconclusive. But it’s hard not to get excited by a guy with his athleticism, his conditioning, and his drive. I’ve heard someone suggest he’s like a young Evander Holyfield. Na. A shoulder-rolling, tenacious take-on-all-comers badass with speed? That has James Toney written all over it…
I’m very, very intrigued by the potential Kelly Pavlik Paul Williams match-up. I’d be cool with Pavlik against Winky Wright, too, to be honest. Pavlik just needs to get in there with a live body again…
Of course, title belts can increase potential purses and enhance a fighter’s media recognition. Guys like Andreas Kotelnik and Sultan Ibragimov would have never earned their recent big paydays without their alphabet hardware. But for a guy like Manny Pacquiao, belts should be immaterial. He’s already got all the respect in the world. What’s a trinket to an icon?
If all goes according to plan, the Mayweather Marquez PPV event should come equipped with a decent undercard. Some would say Floyd’s going to need it if he’s going head-to-head with Dana White and his Ultimate Fighting Championship PPV card on the same night…
The Arturo Gatti saga gets stranger and stranger. As the story twists and turns, I’m unsure if the warrior will rest in peace anytime soon…
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