By Tom Donelson
Photo © Javiel Centeno/FightWireImages.com
This past week, I had the privilege of corresponding with members of Jermain Taylor’s team. The conclusion of these exchanges only reinforces what I am starting to accept as the truth- the sanctioning bodies are the major obstacles to boxing's revival.
Take the Jermain Taylor's case. Taylor defeated Bernard Hopkins, the recognized undisputed Middleweight champion.
Almost immediately after the win over Hopkins, the IBF stripped Taylor of its version of the title when he decided to give Hopkins a rematch.
The WBA decided to create a "normal" version of the championship when it recognized the winner of the Felix Sturm-Javier Castillejo as it's "regular" champion, while calling Taylor their "super" champion.
As for Taylor, his last 48 rounds have been against two certain Hall of Famers and three former world champions. Taylor is 3-0-1 over his last four bouts and no one can be critical of his choice to take on the very best in sport. And for his efforts, he has been rewarded with disrespect by the sanctioning bodies and even some pundits, who have been less than overwhelmed by his close battles against Hopkins and Wright.
According to Taylor’s camp, the WBA made it official this past week, that Jermain Taylor is no longer their champion. Yet this past year has merely reinforced the fact that Taylor is the true number one man in the division.
Going into 2006, there were many top challengers to the title. Sturm's only loss was a controversial decision to Oscar De La Hoya and Arthur Abraham came into the year with impressive victories over Howard Eastman and Kingsley Ikeke. Since then, the WBA championship has exchanged hands three times with Sturm losing to Castillejo, who promptly lost his crown to Mariano Carrera.
As for Abraham, he escaped with a narrow victory over Edison Miranda. Presently, Abraham is recovering from a broken jaw suffered at the hands of the rugged Miranda, who many observers saw as the winner of their fight. Meanwhile, Taylor escaped with a draw against Winky Wright and decisively won a decision over Kassim Ouma, who is every bit as good as those individuals who managed to hold the WBA title over the past year.
As we go into 2007, Taylor has strengthened his hold on the title. Arthur Abraham is still recovering from his injuries and as for the WBA champion, who cares. Does anyone know Mariano Carrera is the champion? Taylor has options that he did not have in past. He chose to take on the recognized best in the last two years and it also didn’t hurt that these fights were the biggest paydays of his career.
While Arthur Abraham, Javier Castillejo and Mariana Carrera are good fighters and even worthy contenders based on their career accomplishments, they did not earn their title the old fashion way; in the ring.
Instead, they were handed gifts by arbitrary decisions that had nothing to do with what happened in the ring. And the multiple champions simply serve to confuse boxing fans on who is the true champion or what is classified as a true championship bout.
Jermain Taylor is the real champion of the Middleweight division. Period. His decisions to fight Hopkins and Wright were due to two factors.
The first factor was that both fighters were considered the best in the division and the second factor was that both fighters provided the best financial return on risk. Next year, Taylor has his sights on Joe Calzaghe and there is a scheduled bout with the undefeated Contender star, Sergio Mora, who seems to improve with every bout.
Mora may not be the best contender in the division, but he does provide Taylor the best money fight compared to others in the current crop of ranked fighters. And right now, the only Middleweights deserving of a shot at his title are Edison Miranda, Winky Wright and Arthur Abraham. Wright and Taylor are at negotiations impasse on the terms for their rematch and Abraham is unable to fight due to injuries. This leaves Miranda, still smarting over his loss to Abraham.
Taylor has been a good champion and deserving of unanimous support from sanctioning bodies and boxing pundits. And those bodies who fail to see the obvious; it is wiser to simply ignore them. As for the Middleweights, this is a deep division with some exciting match ups for boxing fans. A Taylor-Miranda clash would feature the classic boxer-puncher confronting a swarming, power punching machine that loves to pressure his opponents.
Throw in up and coming fighters like John Duddy and Kelly Pavlik, you have several great matches for Taylor in the future.
Taylor, and many of the current Middleweights will eventually move up to the Super Middleweight limit of 168-pounds, where you have undefeated champions like Joe Calzaghe and Mikkel Kessler waiting.
What we don’t need are sanctioning bodies determining champions based on politics or the collection of more sanctioning fees. The WBA and the IBF have shown once again why no one takes the titles seriously. The WBA would not even sanction the bout between Taylor and Wright. But, they did sanction Castillejo-Carrera bout as a championship caliber shwodown. Case closed.