Is It Time To Recognize Wladimir Klitschko As World Heavyweight Champion?

06.11.07 - By Paul McCreath: I guess one of the most popular topics for debate on these pages the past few months has been around the subject of the world heavyweight title and who is the real champion or if there really is one. Most fans are not happy with the idea of the fragmented titles we have just now but how do we get back to having only one champion.?

The best way to recognize a champion has always been for a leading contender to come along and defeat the reigning title holder. That works fine when we have an undisputed champion but since we don't at the moment have one that solution to our problem is unavailable.

Another way to settle the issue has been the recognition of the linear champion. In other words, who is the man who beat the man who beat the man all the way back to the last undisputed title holder. We can't use that method anymore either because our last linear champion, Lennox Lewis, retired undefeated. At this point the line was broken. A new one could be started but only after one fighter is recognized by all.

That brings us to the most talked about solution, namely unification of the alphabet titles. If anyone is hoping to see this happen, I hope you are very young because it has never happened before in the 20 odd years that we have had four major sanctioning bodies. They just don't work together much because it is against their financial interests to do so. There has never been a heavyweight champion who held all fout titles at the same time.

I must admit that now that Don King has less influence on the situation because he controls only World Boxing Council interim champ Samuel Peter, maybe the chances are somewhat better. Wladimir Klitschko, the International Boxing Federation belt holder, is likely to meet Sultan Ibragimov, the World boxing Organization champ, in a unification match and Ruslan Chagaev, the World boxing Association champ, was going to fight Ibragimov until Ruslan got sick, so maybe he and Oleg Maskaev, the WBC title holder would be willing to meet Wladimir, but what if Sam Peter takes Maskaev's title from him when they finally meet?Wladimir does not like dealing with Don King due to his option demands. Let us face it, the chances for full unification are very slim. I can only remember one case in any other division where one fighter won all four belts. That was Bernard Hopkins and, of course, it did not last very long. I don't see any unification of the heavyweight titles lasting any better.

One idea has been to use the Ring Magazine as the official voice of reason. They invented the rankings many years ago before even my time and they are well respected. The problem here is that they have every right to express an opinion as they do with their rankings but they have no authority other than perhaps tradition to name a champion. They are just a respected magazine and their opinion is not necessarily any more valid than any of several top internet websites. At any rate, they consider Wladimir as number one but not the champion, although he has beaten their number two man Sam Peter. Figure that one out.

I also have a problem with their policy of never stripping a champion of his title for inactivity. Take for example the situation right now with middle champ Kelly Pavlik. He is going to fight a rematch with Jermain Taylor at 165 pounds. What is to stop him from doing this for years, just taking the big money fights in non title situations? The Ring would never strip him of the title according to their policy if he never defended again unless he retires or wins a title at another weight.

There is a very simple solution to our dilemma. We need to go back to the original way of deciding who is champion, public opinion. Back in the bare knuckle days, there were no sanctioning bodies and few if any boxing commissions. The champion was the fighter who established himself in the eyes of the fans as the best in the world. Today it is much easier to determine what the opinion of the fans is. We have the internet and we have polls. In a matter of days any of the main boxing websites, but hopefully ESB could run a poll. It would simply ask "Who is the heavyweight champion of the world?" Posters could vote for any fighter they choose. If Wladimir or any other fighter obtained 50 percent or more of the votes, he would be proclaimed champion. Besides Samuel Peter, Wladimir has already outclassed former two-time belt holder Chris Byrd twice and also stopped former WBO belt holder Lamon Brewster, undefeated Calvin Brock, and long time contender Jameel McCline. What more can he do to prove he is the best? If nobody got 50 percent now the title would remain vacant until somebody got 50 in a later poll. I believe that Wladimir would easily get 50 percent right now but if not now then surely after he beats Ibragimov and then the IBF tournament winner whom many expect to be Alexander Povetkin. Who could argue who the real champ is then? Why not use a democratic method and let the fans decide?After all, who is more important than the fans?

This same process could be repeated in all divisions and soon we would see these real champions trashing their phony alphabet titles. They would not have to pay sanctioning fees so they would gladly accept the new titles.I know fighters like belts but that would be no problem either. I am sure that some manufacturer of boxing equipment or even somebody like Sugar Ray Leonard would be happy to donate the belts with their name on them in recognition so everybody would be happy except the alphabet boys who would soon go away once their source of revenue, the sanctioning fees, dried up.

In summing up, this idea may not be perfect but it is doable and it could happen right away. We need a universal champion that everyone knows and I believe that Wlad is the logical choice. Of course, I am only one voice and that is why we need a poll. How about it, ESB? Will you take the lead and run this poll or will you stand back until some other site likes the idea?We are waiting.

Article posted on 06.11.2007

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