Eddie Hearn: There has to be less focus on the belts
By Charles Brun: Eddie Hearn is once again talking about the importance of slowly minimizing the role of the four world belts [IBF, WBA, WBC, and WBO] in boxing.
Hearn says his company Matchroom Boxing WON’T be creating their own title belt, but they do plan on being “less reliant” on the four governing bodies.
Unfortunately, Hearn doesn’t have any ideas of what the sport can use to replace the four sanctioning bodies.
It will require that the top promoters like Matchroom, Top Rank, Golden Boy, and PBC decide what they want to replace the governing bodies.
Would they all be willing to use just one sanctioning body rather than four? Some of those promotional companies might not like the idea of de-emphasizing the titles, especially given their fighters hold belts with them.
The reason for Hearn’s interest in minimizing the sanctioning bodies is the way they often become an obstacle to making big fights happen.
That means the promoters and fighters cannot make money they could otherwise be making due to sanctioning bodies forcing the champions to defend against mandatory challengers that don’t bring anything to the table financially and often have little in the way of talent.
An example of an IBF mandatory that didn’t look like he was equipped for that spot, Hearn mentions how IBF champion Josh Taylor had to defend against an overmatched mandatory Apinan Khongsong last year.
The hapless Khongsong looked like a regular Joe that walked in from the crowd, and subsequently, he was blasted out in one round by Taylor.
“With this takeover, it’s not, ‘We’re going to create our own belt,’ but it is that we’re going to be less reliant on the belts and the governing bodies,” said Eddie Hearn to BoxingNews about his plans to devalue to the importance of the four alphabet sanctioning bodies [IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO].
“When the fighters come through, they want to win a world title. There’s never going to be a Matchroom belt, never.
“So you either have to align yourself with one or adopt a Laissez-faire attitude. ‘I understand I have a mandatory. cheerio, I’m off.’ There has to be less focus on the belts moving forward.
“We’ve put too much focus on the belts,” Hearn continued. “Look at Haney, he never wanted to be given that title; he wanted Lomachenko. It’s almost devalued him being given that title. He wanted to win it off a champion. We’ve gotta put less focus on belts. But I don’t feel like we’re ready to get rid of the belts,” said Hearn.
In theory, promoters could make more money if there were fewer belts, as they would be able to set up fights without needing to worry about mandatory defenses. We don’t know if the networks and the fans would be interested in seeing a lot of non-champions fighting.
One positive with boxing being flooded with titles is having world titles up for grabs for many fights. If there were only one sanctioning body per weight class like in the old days, boxing fans and networks would have to adjust to seeing many contenders. It would still be great boxing, but fewer paper champions.
Most fans would agree that the belts have become little more than props for the champions. It’s not the same as it used to be when a fighter held a world title and was seen as the best in the division.
There are too many champions now in each weight lass, and most of them would have no chance of ever winning a world title if there was just one belt per weight class.
Hearn recently made a big deal about all four titles being on the line for the Anthony Joshua vs. Tyson Fury fight, so he obviously is not ready to become less reliant on the belts just yet.
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