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So Many Organizations, So Much Confusion
It was from this little project that I realized; that if I an avid boxing fan who keeps fairly up to date on current events in the sport could become bewildered by the myriad of titles, what a ball of confusion it must be for a casual observer of the sport. Think about this, a new boxing fan watching the sport is curious about who is the champion of a certain weight class. Now, depending on where he is in the world, who he’s talking to and if all kickbacks I mean sanctioning fees are up to date, this question could result in at least eight different answers.
This novice fan is left with two choices, the first being to say “Screw boxing I am sticking with baseball, it may be boring, but at least it only has one champion at a time” or they go the other way and say “Who cares whose champ I just want to see a good fight.” The ones who make latter decision of course soon end up here or at other boxing sites and soon form there own opinion regarding boxing’s champions.
While the choice of who to call titleholder may vary from fan to fan, the general consensus these days is that there is too many belts, titles and sanctioning bodies. They have gone from being symbols of definitive excellence in the sport to being ridiculed by writers and fans of boxing alike, who are rightfully tired of the ease at which a fighter can be declared champion. An example of this absurdity is that a boxer totally lacking in any championship talent can be declared heavyweight champion after not actually facing the title holder who beat him for the title, but was never really a true heavyweight or had ever competed in the division before (say that three times fast). This disorder also seems to be carried on into the ratings system where even the true “Lineal Champion” may not be recognized by the other sanctioning bodies. And although a lot of the fans now are going by ‘The Ring Ratings” even these are skewed, how else could James Toney be ranked number six by the editors at The Ring after only one fight in the division and that being against a faded Evander Holyfield? The best rating system I have seen yet is at boxrec.com where they designate a points system based on where you are ranked by all governing bodies and the more points you have the higher you are ranked.
I think the only solution to this concern is for not only the fans to quit buying into the misconception that a title needs be on the line for the fight to be viewable, but for the boxers themselves to realize that these minor titles are worthless. I can understand that they feel it lends to bargaining power at negotiations and adds value to their name, but really it’s like having a pocket full of Pesos, it looks impressive until it’s time to pay. The payment unfortunately comes in the form of an ass whipping in front of many people when they face the true champion of their division and with that all credibility is gone. The truth is that fans recognize the good, exciting fighters and will pay the money to see them regardless of belts. The prime example of this statement is the Gatti Vs Ward trilogy, not a title on the line, but people came out in droves to see these two go at it for thirty great rounds. In a way I am sure both of these warriors are relieved that it was not for a title, God knows what they would have done to each other with two extra rounds per fight. This goes to show that belts don’t make fights and draw fans, but even match ups between good fighters makes the money. Another unseen advantage to this is that a small fortune is saved in sanctioning fees for title fights, money saved that can go to where it belongs which is into the fight purse.
I realize that this is a tough issue to reach any solutions and if there is going to be so many sanctioning bodies maybe it’s time for the boxers to take control of the situation. Instead of boxers having to pay to be recognized by the alphabet groups it should be equalized and they should recruit the fighters to fight for their version of the belt. They should have to offer a pension contribution and not charge the boxer or his promoter of those cheap belts they award; also sanction fees should be charged on a percentage of gate receipts not flat rate. They should also have to enforce proper training for referees and judges, and should agree to investigate any suspicious activity by any of their officials. If they want credibility then they should act credible and help take some of the questionable practices out of boxing. It’s time to earn their fees.
I really do hope for changes in the system, but reality and history both tell me it’s most likely not going to happen anytime soon and sometimes I’ve found it’s easier join ‘em if you can’t beat them. So from hereon, in the Richardson household I will now be addressed as “Champion Emeritus”, unless I am not home or a diaper needs changing then please refer to the “Interim Champion”, my wife.
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