Belts: Here, There & Everywhere
Every man who turns professional has the dream of one day becoming a world champion. The money will come and, sadly, in a lot of cases, go but winning a world title will always be in the history books. Nobody can have that taken away. Having the belt around the waist is a moment of pride and triumph, a moment that lives in the memory of all those men who have realised this dream.
The problem for boxing fans in the modern era, however, is the amount of straps available throughout the seventeen weight classes in the sport and the negative affect they seem to have.
Over the years four legitimate sanctioning bodies have emerged to the forefront of professional boxing. They are the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and, finally, the World Boxing Organization (WBO). These four bodies have compiled their own ratings system and each has their own ‘World Champion’ in each weight class which represents them.
This is where the problems have arisen. It has confused and frustrated many fans over the years, wondering how any legitimate sport can possibly have four men in each division (sometimes more) claiming to be a champion - and therefore - the best.
The insanity does not stop there, however. Promoters and TV networks want ‘world title’ fights. They don’t want main events where two men are fighting for nothing but honour and pride. That doesn’t suck the casual fan in, you see. They believe a ‘title’ above the names of those participating legitimizes the main event. It draws the interest of those fans who may be thinking of buying a ticket.
An example of this would be the typical costs to stage a WBC ‘silver title’ fight in Europe. This ludicrous ‘title’ means absolutely nothing to fans who are passionate about the sport but it seems a necessity for both the sanctioning body – who make a nice earner from it – and the promoter staging the show who hopes to shift a few more tickets off the back of this ‘title’ fight.
Sanction fee - $5,000/£3,126
Additional fee - $750/£468.90
Cost of Belt - $2,000/£1,250
WBC Life insurance - $1,500/£937.80
WBC Supervisor (In Europe) - £279.99 plus transport, hotel, flights
Fee for Ref and Judges (In Europe) - £559.58 each
Not only can the winner call himself a champion but he can also enjoy a nice climb up the rankings, make some money by defending his new strap, and get closer to a shot at the man who hold the real belt – although even he could be viewed by fans as not a legitimate champion (See, confusing isn’t it?).
Fans are fed up with these situations which happen all too frequently. ‘Why do they bother fighting for that joke of a title?’ and ‘Why don’t they dump it in the trash?’ are two common sentences I see from fans when they witness a bout between two men for some ridiculous ‘title’. For the men competing, though, winning this strap could be what keeps the bills being paid on time and what puts food on the table for their family. It is certainly frustrating for fans who would love to see only one proper champion per weight class, but on the flip side of that, these men, who are putting their lives at risk every time they step between the ropes, are winning a title that may seem pointless and ridiculous to us sitting on the sofa at home but to them it’s something. It is a valuable tool that can help keep them financially secure for a very long time.
At time of writing this article there are no less than seventy-nine (Yes, really, 79) boxers who can say they are a world champion.
To the hardcore fan, the fan that is full of passion for the sport, they will complain about the problems in the sport. They will argue as to why there are so many weight classes, why there are so many titles, why the best are not fighting the best and so on, but they will always watch the sport that, for most, has been a big part of their lives for as long as they could remember.
Others have drifted away. Fed up of the problems within the sport, they have clearly given up on it. Hopefully one day boxing can return to some of its popularity from years gone by. One thing is clear, however: The increase in title belts will continue, whether for the good or bad of the sport, and the fans will still be complaining about their existence, hoping for positive changes but, sadly, never seeing them.
Last edited by Kurt Ward; 08-15-2013 at 04:31 PM.