Four World Titles, One Definitive List of Rankings, Even One Champion … Could it Happen?
By Chris Kelly: There can be no denial of the utter ridiculousness of the current state that boxing is in. With a vast and confusing barrage of boxers claiming to be the best in their respective weight divisions each holding or having at some point held one or more titles each claiming to be the ultimate world title you can see how the main stream and casual boxing fan may find the sport incredibly confusing and why even the most knowledgeable of fans tend to find it frustrating and upsetting all too often.
As it stands there are currently four main governing bodies each boasting their own version of the world title. These are the World Boxing Council, the World Boxing Organization, the World Boxing Association and the International Boxing Federation. In addition to this already messy mix, there are a variety of smaller bodies all claiming to offer more variations of world championship titles. Examples of these are the WBF (World Boxing Federation), the IBO (International Boxing Organization), the WBU (World Boxing Union) and the IBA (International Boxing Association). However in reality, these are rarely contested by genuine world title contenders but rather fought for by much lesser known fighters who usually seek to use these titles as a gateway or stepping stone to bigger and better things.
The result of having this preposterous number of titles and champions has been quite dismal; there is no one recognizable world champion or world title. As a result of this the greatest fighters of the last two decades rarely meet in the ring to become champions because there are a plenty of belts available for everyone. For instance: Why would the young and undefeated WBC Welterweight Champion Andre Berto risk a showdown with the likes of the dangerous Shane Mosley for the World Boxing Association Championship when all he had to do was overcome the lesser challenge of Juan Urango to become a champion?
Subsequently public interest in boxing has declined and rightly so it would appear. Years ago, when boxing was at it’s most popular; everyone knew who the best fighters were and who the champion was. They got to see the best fighters clash in often-epic battles for the prestige and glory of becoming the World Champion. Long since past have these great days. Would the Ali-Frazier fights or the Robinson-La Motta contests occur had those legends existed today? No. Not as long as the boxing system today makes it nigh impossible.
It seems that the solution to this problem is quite painfully simple. If the four main governing bodies (WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF) conducted their rankings together so that each had the same list of top ten contenders in the world then there would inevitably have to eventually become only one fighter holding all four of these titles in his weight class. What would benefit the sport further is if the big four hired an independent outside organization, such as BoxRec, to conduct theses rankings for them. This would render it easier for the public to see who is the best in each respective weight division and would be harder for fighters who don’t deserve to be in the top ten to get into them.
To use the Welterweight division as an example, all four of the major governing bodies would rank the top ten welterweights in the world as follows:
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
2. Shane Mosley
3. Antonio Margarito
4. Miguel Cotto
5. Andre Berto
6. Joshua Clottey
7. Vyacheslav Senchenko
8. Selcuk Aydin
9. Sebastian Lujan
10. Isaac Hlatshwayo (ratings in accordance to BoxRec 6/11/09)
With the WBA holding Mosley as champion, the WBO champion being Cotto, the IBF favouring Hlatshwayo and Berto being the WBC champion, the three fighters would eventually have to meet in a series of unification bouts. This could possibly even take place in a winner-takes-all type tournament similar to the Super Middleweight super-six tournament. This would therefore provide one clear champion over the division whilst also allowing fans to see a series of top class fights. This trend would continue, as with their being only the one champion, the likes of Mayweather and Clottey would have only one possible opponent when challenging for the title.
As for the previously mentioned Titles offered by the smaller governing bodies, I see no reason why they can no longer continue to serve a purpose to boxing. They need not cease to exist hut they cannot continue masquerading as genuine world titles. What these belts do is provide competition for fighters at a lower level and offer a route to graduate into the elite level of the world title challengers. These forms of titles exist in all sports, in the UK as well as Soccer’s premier league there are lower divisions that offer promotion to higher leagues for its winners. The best example of this system in boxing also exists in Europe and the UK. There are area titles such as the North East Title or the Southern Areas Title held by the British Boxing Board of Control. Winners of these titles usually progress onto the BBB of C’s next titles, the English or Celtic Titles before competing for the British Title and eventually the European or Commonwealth titles. These titles all exist as gateways to more widely recognised titles. They do not proclaim themselves to be World Titles and are imperative to the sport. This is how the smaller organizations must brand their titles.
As obvious as this idea may be, its actual occurrence would depend entirely on the governing bodies themselves and the various promoters such as Frank Warren and Bob Arrum of Top Rank. In a perfect world they would see that while they may all stand to make less money on this in the immediate future it will once again bring the about the interest and popularity that boxing has previously experienced. Which in turn can only mean more money for the fat cats that run our sport.
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