If one were to ask fans what bothers them most about modern boxing, one of the many, many issues would no doubt be the sheer number of “World” titles permeating the sport. Even if only considering the major four sanctioning bodies, it is far from clear who is “the man” in each weight class. One weight class – four world champions is a bit of a stretch. Not so fast! In their infinite wisdom. The WBA and WBC introduced “Regular”, “Interim”, “Diamond” and “Franchise” straps. When the chief of the latter can’t even explain how this actually works in reality, boxing has a problem.
Long, long ago the WBA equivalent Gilberto Mendoza appeared on a special edition of the New Age Boxing podcast (listen to that here) telling us exactly what we wanted to hear. Problem is, what he said and what he has done since bear no resemblance. He made it clear that the aim of the WBA was to have one champion per weight class. Naturally, there are now more titles than ever!
This week, we have had few online discussions and debates about the International Boxing Organisation (IBO) and their various titles. For what it is worth, they are oft considered the fifth governing body in terms of significance. Not many, without personal allegiances to them, would consider an IBO belt-holder a legitimate champion (unless they simultaneously held one of the other straps).
Trainer and manager, Stefy Bull rightfully celebrated his charge winning the World Boxing Council (WBC) strap this weekend. He tweeted a not so thinly veiled dig at those that had dared to question Harper’s legitimacy as a world champion holding solely the IBO version. This is not a defence of trolling or abuse, however in an age where the voice of boxing fans is increasingly drowned out, valid criticism is to be expected. Especially on social media.
Wouldn’t it be easier for all involved to have one champion, with one belt, in every weight class. Yes, we all know why it will never happen. Egos and earnings rule the game. They have for a long-time and will continue to do so. But, just imagine how much better the world would be.
Fortunately for you, BBB has come up with a definitive decision on just who should be considered the man at each weight.
Obviously, this is far from actually being definitive. It is a bit of hypothetical fun, however we are basing this predominantly on what has happened to titles since there was a standout in each division and periods of inactivity. Under BBB rules, if a boxer is out of the ring for 18 months or more our belt becomes vacant.
Let’s start with the big boys. The most illustrious, and perhaps the most controversial, category today. There are three clear contenders to the throne and each has their own claim. So how valid are they?
If we go back to when there was one clear ruler of the biggest and the baddest, it is relatively simple. Wladimir Klitschko took on all comers, collected a wide array of titles and reigned supreme. Until he came up against the Gypsy King that is. Tyson Fury upset the applecart by travelling to Germany and out-boxing the longstanding heavyweight supremo. A lot is being made of the mythical “lineal” championship as Fury uses this standing to legitimise his position at the top of the division. So, Fury beat the man to become the man. Therefore, he is BBB Heavyweight Champion of the World.
If only boxing were ever that simple. Fury and Klitschko were all set for a rematch before Tyson’s well-documented issues outside of the ring. It took him the best part of 30 months to get back in the ring following his successful championship challenge. By our books (and as these are our very own titles, our books are what count), this is too long out of the ring to retain a title. In the meantime, Anthony Joshua defeated Wladimir Klitschko to capture most of the titles vacated by Fury. If BBB rules were actually in place, we would have been happy to sanction this for the Heavyweight championship. So by that logic, Joshua would’ve won the vacant belt. He also would’ve lost it and regained it against Andy Ruiz. Or would he?
The longest reigning current Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder can count himself unlucky to be on the outside looking in. Especially as he has actually boxed (and is set to again) against another of the current top 3. However, there is no room for sentiment or perennial title holders in BBB rules. If there was only one title up for grabs, would Fury have bothered to fight Wilder at all? Wouldn’t he have come back, maybe had 1 or 2 tune-ups and then looked for the man who held his belt?
That is what we’d like to think anyway!
BBB Heavyweight Champion – Anthony Joshua
Next defence – Winner of Fury-Wilder II, date to be confirmed
In 2018, Oleksandr Usyk unified the division by winning the Word Boxing Super Series. He beat 3 of the highest ranked contenders in the division, all away from home, to secure the trophy, the money and the adulation. Disappointingly for the purposes of this piece, Usyk then vacated all of his belts as he stepped up in weight.
This means the completely fictional yet equally important, BBB belt is up for grabs. If only the top Crusierweight contenders would battle it out again to determine who collects our vacant strap. Oh…
BBB Cruiserweight Champion – Vacant
Next defence – Mairis Briedis vs Yuniel Dorticos 21.3.20
Short of any official elimination tournament the light-heavies are doing a damn good impression of their bigger brothers. There seems to be some pattern emerging between being Eastern European, a top level boxer and not giving a solitary shit.
If we trace back the imaginary lineage of the newly created BBB gold (I assume it will be gold, maybe white like the WWF Inter-Continental belt Shawn Michaels had…), then we can ascertain Adonis Stevenson beat the man (Chad Dawson), who beat the man (Bernard Hopkins), who beat the man (Jean Pascal) who had already beaten Dawson. Understood? Good. Anyway Stevenson was then stopped in sensational fashion by Oleksandr Gvozdyk who has since lost to Artur Beterbiev. Beterbiev then cements himself as the BBB champion (sure he will be delighted). Some will consider WBA champ Dmitry Bivol as a worthy contender to the crown and who are we to disagree?
BBB Light-Heavyweight Champion – Artur Beterbiev
Next Defence – Dmitry Bivol (reportedly happening in 2020, potentially August)