The Seven Letters that are Destroying Boxing
By Aaron Imholte (July 12, 2004) 
When asked about the decline in mainstream interest in boxing in America, a fan or analyst will say a few different things. They will either say the talent just isn't there anymore, there aren't any good fights being made, greedy promoters have taken over the sport, or that there just aren't any recognizable names left. These things may distract boxing fans, but not turn them away in masses. If the sport of boxing wants to point the finger at someone or something perhaps it should turn that finger toward itself. Maybe it is boxing itself that is responsible for the decline of the sweet science.

It's for sure not a talent thing. Look no farther than the names Bernard Hopkins, Oscar De La Hoya, Roy Jones, Antonio Tarver, Manny Pacquaio, Acelino Freitas, Floyd Mayweather, and on and on. It can't be a lack of interesting match-ups. Just this year we have seen great and/or shocking fights from the aforementioned Jones and Tarver, Pacquaio and Marquez, Wright and Mosley, and not too mention the September superfight between middleweight champion Hopkins and De La Hoya.

Promoters are not the reason this sport is going to hell either. Don King was around in the 70's with Ali, and the 80's with Tyson. It's Don King that has become the only recognizable symbol of boxing's former popularity, he is what I have always called 'the necessary evil'. Promoters bring the sport into the eyes of the public, they want their fight and their fighters to be seen by as many people as possible. The only downfall of promoters however is that they are often greedy and sometimes downright crooked.

No fight fans the problem does not lie with the personnel who currently occupy boxing. The problem lies with those seven little letters. Those seven letters that appear on four different belts. They are the letters that remind us everyday that Lamon Brewster is somehow considered to some organization the heavyweight champion of the world (WBO). They are the letters that say "Hey Oscar, even though you barely squeaked out a narrow unanimous decision victory over a German middleweight nobody, besides MAYBE his mother, had even thought of as a championship caliber fighter, shucks, golly we still think your the best!' (again the WBO). They are also the letters that are going to tell Ronald 'Winky' Wright that he is not their champion anymore after he clearly outboxed Shane Mosley for the 154 pound championship (IBF).

If I was someone who was just testing the waters of boxing to see if it was a sport I could get behind, my toes would shoot up out of that hurricane of confusion the moment I saw that seven headed shark coming my way. As for me, personally there are only four letters I follow when it comes to crowing a champion, R-I-N-G. That's right, Ring Magazine. For one it has always stuck to the path of lineage, the man who beat the man. It's the only logical way to go. When that lineage is broken by a fighter retiring before losing his crown, then the number one and two ranked fighters can fight to fill that vacancy. Oh, it is so simple to follow and so fun and easy to get behind from a fans perspective.

One champion is alot more fan friendly than four. For instance, the Detroit Pistons rule the NBA. The New England Patriots are the NFL's champions. The Florida Marlins are the MLB's rulers. You get the idea, a four champion system will never catch on, it will never work, it will only doom our sport and cast a black cloud over it until the four ruling bodies are gone and only one champion remains. Four champions, that's like the NBA stopping at the conference finals and giving the Lakers, Pistons, Pacers, and Timberwolves all a share of the NBA title. I can guarantee you fans would turn off from basketball so fast David Stern's misshaped head would spin for days.

So from now on you will never read an article of mine that will recognize Lamon Brewster, Oscar De La Hoya, or John Ruiz as the champions of their divisions, they will simply be referred to as the WBA's (or whatever belt they hold that makes people believe they are a champion) version of the heavyweight champion, or whatever division they are mock champions in. Only the Ring's champion will be recognized as the champion in these pieces from now on. Take this as a boycott of the sanctioning bodies. Who's with me?
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