One governing body to control all of boxing worldwide (Could it ever happen?)

By Andrew Walker - As I typed out that headline I thought that sounds a bit totalitarian? It sounds like the sort of headline the monopolies commission would be interested in. But it is actually a very positive thing if it were to ever happen to the sport of boxing. Whilst followers of boxing will debate who's who and what's what in the sport ad nauseam most if not all would agree that the current situation of a multitude of governing bodies fighting for prominence is a large factor in what has gone wrong with boxing today..

I'm sure the majority of you can name five or more world boxing councils, organisations, federations or unions etcetera but I remember a few years ago stumbling across a website that listed over twenty seven different boxing governing bodies! I'm sure a lot of them never progress further than a website and purchasing a few belts but some of them worm their way into prominence if not prestige amongst the boxing public.

What we have now is the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO all recognised for the most part as legitimate world titles. The IBO is also now starting to gain prominence amongst some boxing aficionados who respect the organisations ranking system and they do have a few legitimate world champions wearing their belts also. Not strictly a world title but the Ring magazine belts are not handed out lightly and some followers of boxing see the holders of these belts as the true champion of their respective division.

Now if you follow the sport closely you are aware of this bizarre situation and can follow (just about) who is who in their respective weight classes. But for Joe Public who sees a poster in his town centre proclaiming “world championship boxing, Willie Limond vs. Ryan Barrett for the vacant World Boxing Union lightweight title” he is not aware that what he is really paying to see is one former Commonwealth belt holder vs. a domestic level journeyman. Neither boxer of a standard to compete for a “real” world title (although Limond fans might argue otherwise).

So if there was just one world title per weight class instead of the four or more we have now you would no longer need to be an expert to follow the sport.

But how would the sport even begin to go about dismantling the various organisations? Would it even be legal to try to do so?

Maybe one of them could buy out all of the other organisations with support from the industry. But if this were to happen what is to stop them from just starting up again under a new name or anyone else from doing similar and creating a new body. Say the WBC did this and purchased all of the other organisations of note. They would have to defend their position as the sole governing body ferociously but with support from the governments, promoters, boxers and the media blocking any attempts of a rival organisation this could be achieved.

The benefits of this to boxing are not to be underestimated. The best would have to fight the best if they wanted to become a world champion. No more title holders racking up meaningless defences. Fighters would have to put it on the line to become world champion as a loss in a title fight would see them go to the back of the queue of worthy challengers.

The governing body could also vet and monitor promoters and managers and make sure fighters were not tied up in unfair contracts for long periods of their careers. Having just one controlling body to deal with rather than two or more as has been the case in some unification bouts would dramatically simplify negotiations all round and could even lead to reduced costs from the top all the way down to the price the fan pays for his entry at the venue or for his PPV. It could help bring boxing back to the free to air terrestrial channels also?

Most other professional sports are run/controlled by one governing body so how has boxing operated all these years with the mess it currently finds itself in today? The practice of promoters also acting as boxer's managers is ludicrous in a business sense. The role of a promoter is to earn as much revenue as possible for his promotion. Equally the roll of a boxer's manager is to earn as much money as possible for his fighter. Straight away there is a conflict of interest there and regardless of which “hat” the promoter/manager has on he will inevitably make as much money for himself first and foremost.

Perhaps a brand new body would need to be created from scratch so that all of the old bad blood or shady connections some promoters are perceived to have with certain governing bodies is wiped clean. It would necessitate each country to agree that they will only recognise the newly created governing body and over time the old guard will slip from prominence as they are forced out of civilised countries and off of the publics TV screens. The fallout from this may create unlicensed boxing tournaments but that practice has been a fixture in most countries for centuries.

Concerns like that although valid should not prevent those concerned with seeking a solution to the fractured mess the sport is in as of now. Failure to do so will lead to even more bodies chancing their hand at creating a “title” and seeing if they can infiltrate the already saturated market. As well as the bodies already mentioned there are a raft of others lurking around waiting for a faded former champion to endorse their belt in the hope of eeking out their career a little further once the glory days have passed them by.

For this to happen though will take some doing. Is it all too late to be realistically possible?

Article posted on 05.08.2009

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