“Bute, Bute, Bute!”: The IBF’s Shameful Ranking System and Lucian Bute’s Destruction of Jesse Brinkley

By GM Ross: Lucian Bute’s Canadian faithful were heard loud and clear at Montreal’s Bell Centre last night. Their chants of “Bute, Bute, Bute” served as the soundtrack to their hero’s conquest of Jesse Brinkley. Bute certainly looked the part of champion in his tactical dismantling of Brinkley, but that comes as no surprise. Leading up to the fight, educated fight fans knew Brinkley was no match for Bute. For the casual observer, however, the farcical number two ranking bestowed upon Brinkley by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) gave the fight a thin veil of legitimacy. Here at ESB we have Brinkley ranked thirteenth in the world, which is an accurate assessment of Brinkley’s accomplishments.

In order to secure the number two position in the IBF rankings Brinkley defeated Curtis Stevens – A man who doesn’t even make the ESB top fifteen. At the time, the IBF ranked Brinkley and Stevens seventh and eighth respectively. Here’s where things get interesting. Brinkley and Stevenson fought in an IBF eliminator for the number two spot in January of 2010. Such a contest goes against the IBF’s own, explicitly stated, ranking criteria – or does it? The IBF’s ranking criteria is worded in a way that permits considerable interpretation. According to the IBF: “for a boxer to be rated in the number one or number two position, he must be rated in one of the top five available positions and beat another boxer rated in one of the top five available positions.” Technically speaking, rankings one through five are always “available.” But the IBF has a way around this. By making positions one and two “vacant,” the IBF deemed them “unavailable,” thus opening up spots three through seven for top-two eligibility.

Confusing, I know, but bear with me. With the top two rankings discounted as “vacant,” Jesse Brinkley’s number seven ranking in effect became a number five ranking. Thus, he could fight anyone ranked third to sixth and be legitimately – according to IBF regulations – moved to first or second position with a victory. This, however, didn’t happen. The IBF went against their own ranking criteria and permitted Curtis Stevens, ranked eighth and, therefore, outside the five “available” fighters, to compete for the number two position. Thus, by defeating a lower ranked opponent, Brinkley was catapulted from seventh to second, leaping ahead of Arthur Abraham, Sakio Bika, Allan Green and Librado Andrade. Speaking of Libardo Andrade, he was dumped from his number one ranking following his second loss to Lucien Bute in November. No one below Andrade earned his spot, so it was left “vacant” and he was tossed into sixth position. He was ranked fourth at the time of the Brinkley-Bute bout. It doesn’t make sense, but boxing rarely does.

Thus, what we witnessed last night in Montreal was Lucien Bute, arguably the top super middleweight in the world, demolishing an outclassed, non-top ten fighter, who had no business being in with that level of competition. That being said, there is no one worth Bute’s time available in the current IBF rankings. He’s already defeated Sakio Bika (seventh), Librado Andrade (fourth) and Edison Miranda (eleventh). Andre Dirrell (third) is sidelined with neurological issues for the time being and Arthur Abraham (sixth) and Carl Froch (ninth) are tied up in the struggling Showtime Super Six Tournament. Jean Paul Mendy is another one of the IBF’s paper contenders who shot from number eleven to number one by getting a DQ1 victory over Sakio Bika, at the time ranked fourth. Putting Mendy against Bute could very well lead to the former’s retirement. There are murmurs of a possible catch weight bout between Kelly Pavlik and Bute which, it seems, is as good an option as any. Certainly, there’s no matchup worth paying for in the IBF super middleweight division.

Article posted on 16.10.2010

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