by The Green Machine
In the never ending confusion that the sanctioning bodies create, the WBC has decided to name Mikkel Kessler its super middleweight “Champion Emeritus”. This in turn, will make the upcoming Andre Ward vs. Andre Dirrell bout a contest for the now vacant WBC super middleweight world title.
As you know already, Kessler’s been sidelined with an eye injury that will keep him out of action for at least nine months. Title defense schedules are never set in stone, and can vary depending on the fighter and how much cash they generate, but it seems the folk at the WBC view Kessler’s anticipated inactivity too lengthy to allow him to remain world champion. Stripping him of the belt is their right, and a fair move to prevent the title from becoming dormant…but “Champion Emeritus”? What exactly is that?
The “Champion Emeritus” status isn’t new, but it is becoming an accepted method for fighters to keep a “champion” status (although not the actual title) while the sanctioning body collects fees from other boxers, fighting for the same title albeit not against the fighter who originally held the belt. In most cases the “emeritus” status allows the boxer holding it an immediate title match against the ‘real’ reigning champion when he decides to fight again. Ranking systems? That’s for rookies.
There appear to be no guidelines to the lunacy. Just as requirements for a title challenge and mandatory defenses vary, so do the situations which a fighter can be knighted with the “emeritus” title. We’ve seen fighter’s go into semi retirement or just stop fighting walk around with this title. Some years ago, the WBC named Erik Morales its featherweight “Champion Emeritus”, although he had moved up to jr. lightweight. Yeah, I don’t get it either.
Maybe I’m old fashioned (though not that old), but something tells me a champion should be (1) active in the sport in which he’s called a champion (2) when it comes to boxing, be active within the weight class that he holds that title. It’s pretty simple really. None of the casual fans, and very few of the most dedicated boxing followers, can name all of the belt holders. Champions, super champion, and champion emeritus are nothing more than empty titles that are more often than not handed to the highest bidder.
This is not a slam on Kessler, the guy has a legit injury, nor is it a knock on any fighter who has a legit claim to his or her world champion status. Despite the absurdness that the sanctioning bodies can create, there are some legit boxers that deserve the title they hold. It’s unfortunate that the organizations they’re representing are diluting their validity.
Ah, just call me “Champion Infitialis”