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Eddie Hearn wants boxing to follow UFC model with one belt and one promotional company

Devin Haney

By Matt Lieberman: Eddie Hearn says he wants to get started in 2021 in following the UFC model of one promotional company and one belt for each division for boxing.

The Matchroom Boxing promoter Hearn says he’s creating the blueprint to make that a reality next year, which in theory should fix the mess that the sanctioning bodies have started. The sanctioning bodies have created too many titles, and it makes it difficult for fans to know who the real champions are.

Like many fans, Hearn feels there are too many titles in the sport, and the best way of eliminating that is to have one promotional company and one belt. Hearn doesn’t say exactly how he’ll go about restructuring boxing to where it’s just one title.

Would one controlling governing body work in boxing?

For Hearn’s plan to work, it would have to be a new company that takes over and does the four sanctioning bodies’ job.

As long as the new company didn’t bungle the job, it would be a vast improvement over what we have now with the four sanctioning bodies.

Fans would like the idea of boxing returning to the time where there was only one champion per weight division instead of what we have now in which there are as many as seven per division.

Hearn planning to follow the UFC model for boxing

Devin Haney

“We do, and that’s a given,” said Hearn to Sky Sports when asked if there are too many belts in boxing. “If you look at the UFC model, which we’re all envious of. It’s one promotional company and one belt, and that’s what I want to get to in boxing.

“And it’s going to take a lot of work, but we’re putting the blueprint in for that. It’s something that we’re going to be pushing hard for in 2020 as we continue to expand. But what we do have to understand is belts do matter,” said Hearn.

“These governing bodies are steeped in history,” said Hearn. “These fighters that other fighters look up to and they’re role models and heroes. They see them with the green and gold WBC belts. So we can’t forget that.”

Hearn wants to achieve sounds great, but it doesn’t appear to be realistic. Boxing is completely different from the UFC, which is a company run organization.

The different promoters and networks aren’t going to follow along with one promoter, who would likely be Hearn and his Matchroom company.

Further, the four sanctioning bodies – IBF, WBA, WBC, and WBO – aren’t going to give up. They’ll continue ranking different fighters, and you can bet that their promoters will focus on them rather than on a new way of ranking fighters by a different company.

It would never work if Hearn tried to take control by asking the fighters and promoters to ake Matchroom the new ranking organization.

If most of the other promoters are fighters continue to focus on the four sanctioning bodies [IBF, WBA, WBC, and WBO], it’ll make it impossible to have one title.

Eddie not happy with the WBC Franchise title creation

Devin Haney

“The Franchise situation for me was a terrible move by the WBC, and I love Mauricio Sulaiman. The problem with it is, they’re the untouchables, and we can’t have that many barriers to greatness.

“With Devin Haney, I asked, ‘What do you want to do?’ He said, ‘I want to fight Vasily Lomachenko, and I want to win the WBC world title.’

“We spent a long time going down that route, fighting eliminators until finally, we got a final eliminator to become mandatory for [WBC lightweight champion] Vasily Lomachenko.

“He stopped [Zaur] Abdullaev, the Russian. We go to the WBC convention to lobby, ‘Please order that mandatory; Haney wants Lomachenko.’ And then Top Rank said, ‘No, make him [Lomachenko] the Franchise champion.’

“All of a sudden, they make him Franchise Champion, and they make Devin Haney world champion. Then you get the critics on Devin Haney, saying, ‘You got emailed the world title.’

“We didn’t want to be given the world title. He wanted to beat the pound-for-pound #1; that’s what he wanted to do. Teofimo Lopez did that, so congratulations to him.

“But Devin Haney was striving for greatness. He never asked for anything. He chose to take the biggest test in boxing. It’s like Canelo Alvarez; he’s a Franchise champion,” said Hearn.

The WBC making Vasily Lomachenko the Franchise champion recently hurt Haney’s ability to face him and potentially beat him to become a star. We just saw Lomachenko fight Teofimo Lopez, who is now the superstar in boxing after beating Loma.

That could have been Haney if the WBC didn’t give Lomachenko the Franchise tag last year, a move that enabled him to avoid facing him. Haney was Lomahenko’s WBC mandatory at the time.

Franchise champions hurt the sport

Devin Haney

“You have to give these young fighters, you lions, to try and achieve greatness and chase these guys down. We need competitive mandatories, and I know mandatories are a pain.

“I wish sometimes that AJ didn’t have to have a mandatory, but it’s part and partial of maintaining your position as a champion. So for me, I don’t think it’s good for boxing at all.

“I hope they can put something in place where after Haney fights Gamboa in a couple of weeks where Haney has to fight [Teofimo] Lopez next. I don’t mind that kind of situation. Don’t let us not touch you,”

“Hearn said about the Franchise champion status of not having to deal with mandatory challengers. “That’s not right, that’s not fair, and that doesn’t give other people the chance to achieve greatness,” said Hearn.

Franchise champions can pick who they want to fight, and that stunts the sport in the long run. While it may seem like a great idea to the WBC, it hurts the development of newer stars because the Franchise champions can avoid the young talent.

Instead of fighters like Canelo needing to face guys like Jermall Charlo and Davis Benavidez, he can avoid him due to his Franchise status.

That’s good for Canelo because he doesn’t have to risk losing to them, but it hurts the sport because the talented non-stars cannot get the fights they need to become a star.

Devin Haney

Would Canelo be the star he is today if Floyd Mayweather Jr, Shane Mosley, and Miguel Cotto were Franchise champions and used that status to avoid fighting him? Unfortunately, the WBC didn’t think it out before creating the Franchise tag.

What they thought would help the sport by allowing their champions to take the best fights has actually hurt it. Instead of seeing Franchise champions like Canelo fighting Benavidez or Charlo, you see him taking a fight against a shot Sergey Kovalev or positioning himself to face Avni Yildirim. Is that helping the sport?

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