by Kelsey McCarson
As you probably already know, the World Boxing Council drew the ire of boxing fans all over the world recently when they decided to strip reigning junior welterweight champion Timothy Bradley due to so-called “inactivity” – despite it being a good 6 months before the WBC rulebook states they would strip the championship from a fighter (after a full year of being inactive).
Almost anyone who is anyone in boxing has chimed in on the affair. ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael has continuously verbally assaulted both the WBC and Golden Boy Promotions, with mini-rant after mini-rant on twitter. He’s even gone so far as to call out GBP’s president Oscar De La Hoya directly. Our own Tim Harrison chimed in with his excellent piece on the matter, and people from all over the world are genuinely disgusted with the entire affair in general.
The following should not be breaking news to anyone, but it seems like it may very well be: like any other sanctioning body in the sport, the WBC does whatever the hell it wants to do whenever the hell it wants to do it.
And it really shouldn’t matter.
Fight fans know who the real champions are –right? For example, how many people actually believe this month’s heavyweight battle between Ruslan Chagaev and Alexander Povetkin is for the heavyweight championship of the world?
The WBA does. They’re sanctioning the bout for their version of the heavyweight title after elevating Wladimir Klitschko to “Super Champion” – whatever that is.
And who out there considers Cornelius Bundrage the king of the junior middleweight division?
No disrespect to K-9, but he’s towards the bottom of just about everybody’s list of top dogs in the division except for, of course, the IBF’s.
Examples go on and on, but the crux of the issue is this: these sanctioning bodies own and control the belts. They are their belts. Not yours. Not mine. And not the fighter’s.
It says so right on the belt, usually in shiny gold font.
The fact of the matter is that when a fighter chooses to pay sanctioning fees to fight for a sanctioning body’s belt, they go in under the auspice of being controlled by said organization. It’s as simple as that, and it’s well within reason that the sanctioning body can and will do what is in their best interest.
Is it fair? Of course not, but it is a somewhat necessary component of the sport until a better system comes along. Look back at the great champions of the past and see how many of them milked the championship for all its worth without actually putting it at risk.
As an example, the great Jack Dempsey, who was heavyweight champion from 1919-1926, did not defend his title for three full years during his reign.
Three full years.
So, is the WBC (and other sanctioning bodies) good for boxing as they are? Of course not! The sanctioning bodies we have today are corrupt institutions at the height of their decadent reign.
But whining about it on twitter and calling people names doesn’t solve anything (I’m looking at you Dan Rafael). Asking an illogical system to be something it will never be is like asking fish to live outside of water.
It’s just not going to happen.
Instead, let’s stop calling fighters champions unless they really are the champions. If they beat the man that beat the man (linear champion), or if they conquer the entire division, then you can call them the champ. If they simply paid for a vanity trinket to wear around their waist so they can refer to themselves as more than they really are, then call them a titlist.
Stop paying attention the ins and outs of a stupid, outdated and corrupt system that won’t stop until promoters like Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank start representing the absolute best interests of the fighters instead of lining the pockets of people who don’t really deserve it.
Ultimately, the fighters have to stop paying for the so-called privilege of fighting for corrupt sanctioning organizations’ title belts. Case in point, Mike Alvarado, an undefeated junior welterweight, recently vacated his WBC Continental Americas title (whatever that is) due to the WBC continually moving him down in their rankings for no apparent reason.
“The WBC rated me No. 7 in May, No. 8 in June, and No. 10 in July,” lamented Alvarado. “At this rate, if I keep on winning, I could be out of the WBC’s top 20 by Christmas.”
Unfortunately, speaking to the Denver Post, Alvarado later indicated that he plans to put himself in the very same position again by targeting the IBF belt instead.
“The IBF is in our corner…I’ve proved myself. I’ll fight anybody. Whatever it takes. The best need to fight the best.”
If only it were that easy.
The IBF is not in Alvarado’s corner any more than the WBC was (or wasn’t). And even if they were, they definitely should not be. The WBC shouldn’t be catering to Erik Morales and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. any more than the IBF should be catering to Alvarado. Sanctioning bodies should be independent arbiters of truth.
Boxing needs a real championship system—one that is not controlled by promoters and television networks, and one that fans can truly rely on to crown each and every division’s champion.
Until then, just enjoy the fights.
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