Everyone gets a title!
One of the glaring issues with the sport of boxing is the excess of title belts.
This pain point is why boxing is considered a fringe sport, which is quite a departure from an era when boxing champions were considered the best athletes on the planet.
For nearly 100 years, the heavyweight champion of the world was known as “The baddest man on the planet.” Now, we’ve entered an era of ambiguity.
Expectedly, there’s a reason why we have so many titles. Boxing is the only major sport that doesn’t have a centralized commission. The sport is primarily governed by entities in three camps.
The first being promoters, the second being the sanctioning bodies, and third being the state commissions. To further complicate things, their interests often conflict.
The Origin of the Four Major Titles & Undisputed Status
Currently, there are four major sanctioning bodies: WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO. Originally, the only sanctioning body was the NBA. They were founded in 1921 and recognized as the WBA in 1962.
The WBC was founded soon after in 1963, the IBF in 1983, and the WBO in 1990.
As the different sanctioning bodies were given recognition, the position of undisputed champion came to be. This is when a fighter has acquired all of the sanctioning bodies’ major titles in a weightclass.
Notably the most prestigious accomplishment in the sport, it has only happened four times in the last 13 years (Jermaine Taylor, O’Neil Bell, Terrence Crawford and recently Oleksandr Usyk).
This is partly due to the conflicting politics between the promoters and sanctioning bodies.
All of this has repercussions on the sport. Boxing at it’s best is a gladiator sport. The famous quote “Two men enter, one man leaves.” from the movie “Mad Max beyond Thunderdome” was inspired by the sport of boxing.
In a sport that values one-on-one dominance, it’s a glaring contradiction to have so many titles. The problem is even compounded by multiple titles occupying the same division.
There is also the stigma of the 1999 ratings scandal. More specifically, the purchasing of ratings positions by promoters.
Within two years, boxing was removed from five major networks. The issue of not having definitive champions has watered down the sport and makes it difficult for fans to follow.
Therefore, as boxing fans, do you see this as a problem? If you do what’s your solution?
By: Corey Cunningham