How many title shots can a challenger get?

18.04.05 - By James Allan: There used to be a time when a challenger got only shot at the Champion. If it was a close fight, then maybe he would get a rematch, if he lost that one too, then he was finished as a legitimate title contender. Those days, when title shots were awarded (mostly) on merit are long gone. You only have to see Andrew Golota being lined up for another title shot to see that for yourself..

Now donít get me wrong, this is not a personal attack on Golota. He is only taking advantage of the opportunities that are being presented to him. That he is still considered a scalp worthy of claiming says it all for the state of the H/W division, and the fact that the main sanctioning bodies are prepared to keep on letting him fight for their baubles, says it all for their greed and lack of self-respect.

With his upcoming fight against Lamon Brewster, this means that Golota will have had a shot at all four of the major H/W titles. That he has been knocked out in the first round against Lennox Lewis, disqualified twice against Riddick Bowe, out pointed by John Ruiz, a draw with Chris Byrd and stopped fighting in the tenth in an NABF title fight against Michael Grant after getting dropped, counts for nothing, he is getting another shot. If he loses this one, it must surely leave him with nowhere to go, but such is the chaotic state of boxing at the moment, I wouldnít bet against another chance being presented to him at some point in the future. But as I said earlier, this isnít a go at Andrew Golota, many of the divisions have fighters getting multiple opportunities.

Robin Reid will be fighting Jeff Lacy in August for Lacyís IBF Super Middleweight title. Counting this shot, that will mean that Reid has had, including the so-called minor belts, fought for six world titles.

Michael Brodie will be fighting Scott Harrison in June for Harrisonís WBO Featherweight title, this will be his fourth attempt to win a major world title, and he has already won two minor world titles.

Clinton Woods finally won the IBF Light Heavyweight championship of the world at the fourth time of asking in March of this year.

Shane Mosley will be fighting David Estrada in a few days time, if he wins this, how long will it be before he gets another title shot. Mike Tyson will be fighting Kevin McBride in June. If he gets through this one, who would bet against him getting another title shot.

I am not having a go at any of these fighters, as I have already said, they are only taking advantage of the chaotic scene that exists in boxing at the moment. Over twenty sanctioning bodies were there used to be one, 17 weight divisions were there used to be eight.

If you take a look at the current rankings, you would be hard put to find a fighter in the top ten, who hasnít had some sort of title shot. The amount of titles that they can fight for and the relatively small amounts of weight that they need to gain or lose, makes it to easy for modern fighters to move up or down divisions and gain title shots within them. Oscar De La Hoya has been a world champion across six different weight divisions, Super Featherweight to Middleweight, but given the weight differences of each division, and the amount of titles that are now available, can his achievement really be compared to that of Henry Armstrong, who held the Featherweight, Lightweight and Welterweight titles all at the same time in the 1930ís.

Instead of the game moving forward, in recent years it has moved so far backwards it is now almost out of the sports pages altogether, floating fans constantly seeing the same names gaining numerous title shots, doesnít help the sport.

Itís not easy to come up with a solution to this problem, one answer might be that after a fighter has had a shot at one organisationís world title and lost, he should then find himself at the bottom of every organisationís rankings list and would have to work his way back up again before being in line for another shot. A reduction in the amount of weight divisions could also help. In many of them you only need to lose or gain three or four pounds in order to compete in that division. I know that boxers are finely tuned athletes, but if fighters in the thirties and forties could compete successfully across weight divisions, with greater differences between them than there is now, why canít modern day fighters? But these solutions would require co-operation amongst all of the sanctioning bodies for them to work. Co-operation is the first step to amalgamation and since there is still plenty of money for them to make, it isnít going to happen anytime soon.

Undeserving fighters will always get shots at world titles, it isnít anything new, Joe Louis and Muhammad Ali were not above getting into the ring with guys who werenít fit to lace their boots, but the difference is that back then the challenger had his one moment of glory before disappearing over the horizon, now, with the correct handling, they can have three or four of them. Until something is done about it boxing will remain on the fringes of the mainstream, and when you consider the drama and excitement that boxing can still produce compared to other sports that enjoy greater popularity, it is a real pity.

Article posted on 18.04.2005

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