By: Kayla Lewis
“When it’s all said and done, all belts do is collect dust.”
These were Floyd Mayweather’s words when asked why he refused to pay the sanctioning fees for Shane Mosley’s WBA belt for their fight back in 2010.
It would be debatable to say that becoming a world champion in boxing these days still holds the same value that it used to. Sanctioning bodies have turned their distribution of belts into a business deal rather than a deserving achievement for fighters.
The WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF are the four official bodies recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame thus they are the only belts that officially deem someone a world champion. If I sat here and listed the number of belts, sub-belts, and just pure comedic worth belts each of these bodies have to ‘award’ a fighter, you would probably stop reading because it would just get ridiculous.
My biggest qualms are with the organizations considered to be one of the most ‘prestigious’, the WBC and WBA. Whether it’s from the WBC and their ‘Diamond’ world title or the WBA having the audacity to have a ‘Super World Champion’ and a ‘Regular World Champion’ within the same weight class (I’m not even sure what a ‘regular’ champion is, should the fighter be insulted?) the list goes on and on.
While the WBO and IBF claim to be ‘non-profit institutions’, each has their problems. The WBO can be biased in their handing out of belts like freebies to Puerto Rican boxers (WBC is guilty of this too with Mexicans) and the IBF can be somewhat stingy with who they decide to give a title to but also have an awfully peculiar quickness to strip fighters like it’s nobodies business.
Remember when there was one belt per weight class? Meaning there was one sole champion to each division and the challenge for other fighters was to work your way up to ultimately receive a chance to land a fight with the champion? Those were the times when the term “undisputed champion” held weight within the boxing world. Before the 1980’s there were only a handful of world titles to be dished out per weight class. The 1980’s and so forth came with the birth of the IBF and WBO along with the reign of the WBA and WBC and therefore the fragmentation of titles began.
Unfortunately, the game has very much changed and perpetually gotten worse as there are so many undistinguished and paper champions in boxing now, it makes absolutely no sense. Sanctioning institutions couldn’t care less about a fighter being the most fitting of a title shot these days and would rather give it to someone because of the money they bring in or their willingness to accept a phony title and pay the fees for it as well. They have discredited the recognition of being a champion by stripping a fighter who won his belt justly and giving it to someone else ‘just because.’ (Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., anyone?)
I commend Floyd Mayweather for his refusal of paying for a belt that would’ve in conclusion meant nothing to him. Likewise for any other boxer that may have or will decline the bonus of a fake belt to instead wait for the real thing.
The sad thing is that obviously majority of these titles that are given out so easily, literally mean zip but many fighters still accept them and opt to pay the outrageous fees to hold a piece of plastic. With so much corruption within boxing that continues to push it further into irrelevancy for the general public and even repel those hardcore viewers as well, the frivolity of sanctioning bodies only rots the image of boxing additionally.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the business of becoming a world champion. I’m going to safely assume that none of this should come by surprise though, because then again, the business of business is to rip you off.
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