Undisputed Champion

17.12.08 - By Andrew Walker: Most of us who following the sport of boxing would agree that there are too many “world title belts” on offer in each weight division today. A common thread of discussion is that the multitude of belts claiming to be legitimate governing bodies in the sport of boxing dilutes the interest from the casual fan who no longer knows or cares who the real champion of each division is. Each of these in turn have their own form of ranking and vary from almost credible to laughable in some cases. The thing is unless their go bankrupt none of these governing bodies are going to go away and leave just one to reap the rewards so what can the sport do to settle its house..

There is a global recession on right now and this could thankfully finish off a few of the lesser known pretenders that are out there but what’s to stop more from coming in and filling their space? Once a “belt” has been around for a while and been worn by a legitimate fighter/champion (remember it’s the boxer who makes the belts these days not the other way round) then they start to become one of the accepted belts as is the case with the WBO nowadays. Not too long ago the WBO heavyweight champion (or indeed any other WBO weight champion) was seen as a joke and not really a “real” champion in the class. But now if you’re the WBO champion in any class its seen as a legitimate belt.

The IBO is starting to gain ground in some fans eyes now and does seem to have a fair ranking system also. They have boxers wearing their belts that are regarded as the best in their division. Fighters such as Ricky Hatton, Wladimir Klitschko and Chad Dawson are all IBO champions. Ricky Hatton still parades his IBO belt despite being the Ring magazine belt holder as do Wladimir Klitschko and Chad Dawson who own other portions of the championship belts out there. How long before we see the IBO as one of the main titles to own to be recognised as a world champion?

The Ring magazine belt is considered by some to now be the most important belt for a boxer to own in his weight class. These belts are not handed out lightly and to earn one you have to face off with the nearest rival to you in your weight class and win. But even the mighty Ring belt has now been tarnished due to the magazine being acquired by promoter Oscar De La Hoya recently. Most of the belts have been associated with a promoter from time to time such as the WBC and Don King and more recently with the WBO being christened the Warren Boxing Organisation by no less then current WBC super middleweight champ Carl Froch (among many others).

The one thing the Ring magazine belt had over the others was its impartiality. Now that image is gone it just becomes another “trinket” with all the rest of them. In Britain now the WBU belt is paraded on certain boxing shows as a legitimate world title. Former WBA & WBC middleweight champion Alan Minter enthused about his son getting his big chance fighting for the world title earlier this year when he fought Michael Jennings for his WBU welterweight title at the Excel arena in London. Ross Minter lost getting TKO in round nine by “champ” Jennings. Incidentally Michael Jennings next fight is against Miguel Angel Cotto for the vacant WBO welterweight title early next year. I wonder if his WBU title is also on the line in that match up.

In reality the WBU title is seen by those in the know over here in Britain as little more then a stepping stone for fighters before they go for a British title or a European title. But to those that don’t realise this they think they are paying to watch a world class title fight and they are not. Both Ricky Hatton and Enzo Maccarinelli paraded WBU belts around their waists before they moved onto bigger things and I’m sure they will not be the last to do so.

I know there are far more titles out there in boxing then those I have mentioned but unless things change then we could conceivably be seeing a boxer needing to win the WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF, IBO, WBU and the Ring magazine belt to be truly hailed as the undisputed champion in his weight class in the near future. Right now it is just the WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF and the Ring magazine belt but even that is just plain ridiculous. If anything can be done about this it would need to come from the ground up as none of the governing bodies will conceive any ground in giving up their lucrative sanctioning fees and deals with certain promoters any time soon.

Article posted on 17.12.2008

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