This article(s) may come off as a bit of a rant, perhaps it is. I would, however, be remiss if I didn’t voice what I view to be the two biggest obstacles facing our sport today and open a discussion for any creative solutions that might be available.
The Belts: Fun fact about boxing, if we ask ten of the top boxing analysts/commentators who was the Champion in each of the 17 recognized boxing weight classes, we are VERY likely to get ten different answers. Furthermore, all ten of those answers are going to be correct! How can that be though, “World Champion” seems to imply that you are the one best fighter in your division right? Enter the numerous sanctioning bodies of professional boxing. Currently, there are four different sanctioning bodies that are, for the most part, “reputable” enough to have their version of a World Champion recognized. At least one of those organizations have both a “Super” belt and a “Regular” belt, designating two World Champions per division. A quick math problem shows us (17 weight classes times 5 (4 plus 1, due to the “regular” and “super” titles) organizations) that we can have as many as 85 World Champions across 17 weight classes at any given time. Doesn’t that kind of diminish the achievement of World Champion? Would this not be the same as stopping the NBA Finals right now and saying both Golden State and Cleveland are the Champions (and if we are following a typical boxing time-line, they wouldn’t have to play each other for another 2-3 years)? While it is certainly more lucrative to bill more fights as “World Title” fights, it is confusing to the new/casual boxing fan, and insulting to the elite-caliber fighters truly deserving that Title. I will concede that boxing, like any other sport, is a business, and the goal of any business is to make a profit. This problem is a tough nut to crack objectively, as all of the organizations have merit and all also have made questionable decisions(regarding rankings and awarding titles) as well. It’s easy to say “consolidate all of the belts,” but each organization is private, and therefore would lose money by giving up their version of the World Title. It’s just as easy to say “well the X Belt is better than the Y Belt” but wouldn’t it be more accurate to say “X fighter is better than Y fighter, but should fight to settle it beyond any speculation.” Perhaps the biggest problem that these sanctioning bodies present to the fans is the prevention of the best fights being made. Often times,fighter X’s management team and ranking with a particular organization will prevent a fight being made between he/she and fight Y, even if that is the most obvious fight between the obvious best fighters in that weight class!
These problems aren’t easily fixed, and luckily enough, the fans often know who the best fighter is in any division, even if they are without a Title Belt. But I’m more interested in hear your take on these concerns. You, like me, are probably a fan who sees these issues unfold month after month in boxing. What ideas do you have about fixing these problems? Are they even problems at all, or am I over thinking the entire situation?
What do you think? Let me know your feelings on Twitter @TheGreatToddman or email me at PugilistsParadise@columnist.com .