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The Gatekeeper should hold the key to the title

By Darren Munsey: One of the biggest talking points in boxing is the question ‘’is this boxer world class’’? We discuss, we debate but at the end of the day we do not know for sure until the fighter participates in a world title fight. The problem with that is just because a boxer fights for a world title that is far from conclusive evidence that the prospect is truly world class. With the amount of different versions or world title and the massive influence promoters have in the sport getting a world title shot is easier than ever.

I read last week that James DeGale (10-0) was offered a world title fight in just his eleventh fight against Robert Stieglitz (41-2). DeGale turned the fight down due to him upcoming Groves battle and may well be a world champion of the future but it just goes to show how literally anyone can get a world title shot nowadays i.e. Derek Chisora (14-0) and Willie Casey (12-1). As we all know Klitschko pulled out of the Chisora fights but Casey went ahead with his fight against Rigondeaux and was knocked out in the 1st round.

So that got me thinking. In order to avoid waste of time and waste of fans hard earned money on these world title fight mismatches wouldn’t it be great if each weight division had at least 1 ‘’Gatekeeper’’ and the governing bodies enforced all perspective world title challengers to beat the gatekeeper before they can progress to a world title fight. The gatekeeper would be of world class standard that has fought more than once for a world title but has always fallen a little short or a former world champion who is not quite of the standard they used to be. The incentive for gatekeepers would be if they beat enough prospects then they would eventually earn themselves another world title shot. Examples of gatekeepers that spring to mind are:-

Monte Barrett (34-9)

Monte was often referred to as the gatekeeper of the heavyweight division, and has beaten many a so called next American world heavyweight champion such as Tye Fields in 2008. He fought for the world title twice and lost to Wladimir Klitschko and Haye before they became world champions.

Sakio Bika (27-4)

Sakio has fought twice for the world title taking Ward and Calzaghe both the distance. He has also taken Bute the distance before he became a world champion. You can be assured that any upcoming super-middleweights that can beat Bika deserve a world title shot.

Michael Katsidis (27-4)

Michael is a former interim champion but has always fallen a little short when stepping up to fight for the full championship. He has fallen short against the likes of Marquez, Diaz, Casamayor and Guererro but his 3rd round knockout of prospect Kevin Mitchell last year shows he still has a lot to offer and is an excellent gatekeeper for the lightweight division.

Andreas Kotelnik (31-4)

A former world champion who has never been stopped. He has only been defeated on points by former and current world champions such as Khan, Alexander, M’baye and Witter and can also boast a victory over Maidana. He is not an easy fight for anyone and is a worthy gatekeeper for the light-welterweight division. I would not rule out Kotelnik becoming a world champion again.

I am fully aware that official gatekeepers in boxing will never happen but I like thought that so called hot prospects have to beat at least 1 world class calibre fighter before they can call themselves world class and progress on to a world title fight. Do you agree with the idea of gatekeepers in every division? Comments welcome.

Thank you for reading.

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