by David P. Greisman
It would be so easy – indeed, it would be ideal – to take the latest sanctioning body drama as the proverbial last straw, to use the World Boxing Council’s most recent controversy as a cause célèbre, one that would push us to ignore these organizations and concentrate solely on the sport and the fighters themselves.
The WBC has stripped Timothy Bradley of its junior-welterweight title, naming him a “Champion in Recess” while he sits on the sideline, having turned down a July fight with Amir Khan and gotten sued by his promoters for doing so. Bradley earned the belt in January when he won a unification bout against Devon Alexander.
That belt will instead soon belong either to Erik Morales or Jorge Barrios. Morales is a once-great fighter, a former three-division titlist now in decline. Still a warrior, he was competitive against the dangerous Marcos Maidana back in April but ultimately lost a majority decision. Barrios is a former 130-pound beltholder who last had that recognition five years ago, hasn’t had a notable win since and has no claim to the 140-pound division.
Bradley should still have the WBC belt.
A fight between Morales vs. Barrios, set for September, shouldn’t have that belt as a prize.
And, as others have noted, there are others who’d already been promised a chance at the title, Ali Chebah and Ajose Olusegun, who are slated to fight that same month in an elimination bout.
The winner of Chebah-Olusegun would’ve had a mandatory shot at Bradley. Now it is Bradley who someday can use his “Champion in Recess” status for a shot at what is rightfully his.
The move is inconsistent with WBC rules: “The WBC may order an interim title bout when a world champion will be temporarily inactive and unable to defend his title for a period to exceed six months due to … a legal impediment.”
The lawsuit against Bradley is new. Champions often go more than six months without defending anyway. And the WBC didn’t manufacture an interim title bout, but rather a full title bout.
This isn’t the first time the WBC has stripped Bradley. He’d won its belt in May 2008 but dropped it two fights later, after defeating Kendall Holt to unify the WBC title with Holt’s World Boxing Organization title.
The WBC apparently frowns on unification: “Any WBC champion in a particular division who becomes world champion in another WBC division or other boxing organization … must relinquish one of his titles within 15 days after becoming dual titleholder, with the title relinquished becoming vacant.”
Bradley once again unified the belts by beating Alexander, and he’d had the recognition of both of those sanctioning bodies since January.
It would be easy, then, to see this as the latest, biggest reason to ignore the sanctioning bodies.
It would seem so right.
It would, alas, be wrong.
They do provide structure to our sport, ranking the countless combatants who lace on the gloves, awarding championship belts to those who are supposedly the best, mandating matches to help sort all of this out.
They don’t deserve much credit for that.
That’s because the sanctioning bodies provide all of this at a cost.
The cost, first and foremost, is to the fighters, who give blood and brain cells and sweat and a percentage of their paychecks for sanctioning fees, a cut of their cash financing the chance to win (or to hold onto) titles of both greater and lesser import.
The cost is also to the promoters, who, unlike the sanctioning bodies, actually take a significant financial risk while being part of boxing, investing both money and effort into building fighters and putting a fight together. The promoters also pay into the sanctioning bodies’ coffers.
And the cost is to us, to our sanity as we watch these organizations water down the sport we love, as we read of them manipulating the careers of boxers as if they aren’t men but rather reserves of oil, tapped until they can no longer full of riches, then left behind for the next.
The cost is to our integrity, because our support of the sport is a tacit approval of the system. Our consumption helps feed the sanctioning bodies’ bank accounts.
The sanctioning bodies still cannot be ignored.
The fighters want and need their belts. The titles symbolize their accomplishments and bring them more recognition from fans and from promoters, networks and other fighters than they’d otherwise receive. That means they get paid more.
The belts shouldn’t be necessary. This is a sport with lineage among its true champions. This is a sport with “The Ring,” a magazine that awards a prestigious belt and doesn’t demand a pricy sanctioning fee in return.
Those could dispel the confusion of a sport that also has regional titles and continental titles, a sport where the four major organizations (IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO) are just one serving of a mess of alphabet soup.
But this is a sport where the fighters value even the most fringe of belts. They will give them up when doing so means something more meaningful for their careers, not because ditching them would be more meaningful for boxing.
The promoters want and need the belts. Title fights draw interest. They can add more market value to a fighter otherwise lacking attention. Promoters have symbiotic relationships with the sanctioning bodies. They lobby for their fighters to get ranked and to get shots at the belts. The sanctioning bodies, in turn, have a regular customer, a reliable stream of income.
The fighters and promoters won’t ignore the sanctioning bodies. And the fans and journalists can’t ignore them.
The sanctioning bodies are the reason why some fights happen and why some fights don’t. Us ignoring these organizations won’t change that. It’s been written that the media’s role, at times, is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. The fans can do the same by speaking up.
We can blame them for weak mandatory challengers such as Gary Lockett (against Kelly Pavlik). We can credit them for good mandatory challengers such as Ali Funeka (against Nate Campbell).
We can pressure them over Bradley being stripped; WBC president Jose Sulaiman was quickly put on the defensive last week. We can cover the potential ramifications of the story, including a possible lawsuit Bradley’s team is reportedly considering filing against the WBC. We can stand up for Chebah and Olusegun.
It would be so easy to stop mentioning the abundance of title belts, the questionable rankings, the dubious decisions. But ignoring them isn’t the answer. An ostrich sticking its head underground doesn’t change the world above.
The 10 Count
1. Who ever would have expected that after combustible episodes of HBO’s “Face Off” ahead of Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins 2 and Wladimir Klitschko vs. David Haye, we’d end up with a calm but good confrontation between Victor Ortiz and Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
Mayweather exuded cool confidence; Ortiz, also relatively low key, seemed to be puffing himself up ahead of the fight (and for good reason).
How long into the first episode of “Ortiz-Mayweather 24/7” until the détente breaks?
2. Sticking with Mayweather, one of the myriad of legal cases against him has been dropped; a judge dismissed it last week, per the Associated Press.
This case is a civil lawsuit that a Las Vegas nightclub security guard had filed against Mayweather. The bouncer claimed that in January he’d asked Mayweather and people with him for identification, and then a bodyguard of Mayweather’s grabbed him and choked him, according to a Las Vegas Sun article from when the lawsuit was filed.
Here’s a quick primer on the remaining cases against Mayweather:
- Manny Pacquiao’s defamation lawsuit against Mayweather concerning Mayweather’s implications and allegations that Pacquiao has used performance enhancing drugs.
- Mayweather has several felony and misdemeanor charges against him for an incident in which he allegedly assaulted his ex-girlfriend and threatened their sons.
- Mayweather has been charged with misdemeanor harassment after allegedly threatening security guards at his housing development after they wrote up parking citations for some of his vehicles.
- He has a misdemeanor battery case in which he is accused of poking the face of a security guard who left parking tickets on one of his vehicles.
- And Mayweather has another civil lawsuit against him, this one from a man who claims Mayweather told his bodyguards to attack him after he asked about Mayweather fighting Manny Pacquiao.
3. You might not have noticed that he was missing from the ring. And because of that, you might not have known that when Jay Nady refereed non-televised undercard fights in Las Vegas this past Friday, it was his first time on the job in more than seven months.
That’s because Nady underwent triple bypass surgery in February, according to Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
He had an eventful moment during a bout between Rances Barthelemy and Gerardo Robles, according to this ringside report from Pound4Pound.com:
“The biggest action of this fight came when an unidentified fan of Robles came in the ring during the middle of the fight to confront Jay Nady about low blows. Security quickly took care of the situation, sending the man off in orderly fashion.”
4. Hector Camacho Jr. has a bridge to sell you in San Francisco.
Here he is in a news release touting the, ahem, “world renowned middleweight boxer.” Take it away, Hector:
“I want to focus on making the welterweight limits and starting going after the champions at that weight class.”
Really? It’s one thing for Camacho to think he can get in there with the champions. But it’s another thing for Camacho just to, oh, actually make weight.
- February 2011, Hector Camacho Jr. vs. Juan Astorga. Weight limit: 160. Camacho: 166.
- October 2009, Hector Camacho Jr. vs Yory Boy Campas. Weight limit: 154. Camacho: 159.5
- August 2009, Hector Camacho Jr. vs. Pito Cardona. Weight limit: 154. Camacho, initially, weighs in at 156 before dropping two pounds and actually making weight.
- July 2007, Hector Camacho Jr. vs. Don Juan Futrell. Weight limit: 154. Camacho: 161 (and this came after telling BoxingScene’s own Ryan Songalia, “I’m down to 152 for the weigh-in”).
- September 2006, Hector Camacho Jr. vs. George Klinesmith. The fight was initially billed as a junior-middleweight bout. Apparently it became a middleweight fight, as Klinesmith came in at 159.5. As for Camacho? He was 167 pounds. “Both tested positive for marijuana,” fight scribe David Avila later reported.
5. Then again, Camacho has made welterweight before. Alas, he came in at 147 pounds back when he was supposed to be at 143 for his March 2002 fight with Omar Weis.
Camacho infamously went to the gym to lose two pounds, but he came back even heavier, tipping the scales at 151 pounds, according to the fight broadcast. Weis beat Camacho anyway.
This guy’s missed weight nearly as many times as Jose Luis Castillo and Joan Guzman combined.
6. Boxers Behaving Badly, part one: Famed boxing bust Francisco Bojado was arrested last week after allegedly leading police on a chase to the California/Mexico border, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Bojado, 28, has been charged with “suspicion of driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license, evading arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia, and hit and run,” the article said.
The chase began when police tried to pull Bojado over because his vehicle’s license plate was allegedly covered. It ended when a Customs and Border Protection officer shot at Bojado’s car, and Bojado allegedly got out of the vehicle and tried to run away.
Bojado was a touted prospect coming out of the 2000 Olympics, but then he suffered a surprising decision loss in his 10th pro fight, against Juan Carlos Rubio, and lost again in 2004, this time via split decision against Jesse James Leija.
His last appearance was in 2007, a split decision loss to Steve Forbes that brought his record to 18-3 (12 knockouts).
(Thanks to Don Fobbs for sending the story my way.)
7. “Edison Miranda Believes His Career Best is Still Ahead” ~ headline on BoxingScene.com, the morning of July 29, 2011.
“Yordanis Despaigne Defeats Edison Miranda By DQ” ~ headline on BoxingScene.com, the night of July 29, 2011.
8. Boxers Behaving Badly update, part one: Tony Booth – the famed British designated opponent with a record of 52-105-9 – pleaded guilty last week to two counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine and one count each of passing counterfeit notes and conspiracy to pass counterfeit notes, according to the Hull and East Riding Mail.
Several other men were arrested in the case.
Booth, 40 (that’s according to the article; he’s 41, according to BoxRec.com), last fought in November 2008, leaving boxing with a win. He is better known, however, for his losses, including being the fall guy for a debuting David Haye.
9. Boxers Behaving Badly update, part two: Jeff Smith, a retired junior lightweight from New Zealand, was sentenced to spend three years and two months behind bars for manufacturing methamphetamine, according to the New Zealand Press Association.
The 51-year-old was 23-11 with 15 knockouts.
10. Remember Gabriel Rosado, the 25-year-old junior middleweight who was arrested two weeks ago for allegedly punching a police officer who was trying to escort him from an Atlantic City casino just hours after Rosado won a fight in that same building?
Well, he’s out on $25,000 bail and will be fighting again on Sept. 9 (according to BoxingScene’s Ryan Maquiñana), a fight that will earn Rosado some cash that is now even more needed than before.
Wonderfully, the actual name of the venue Rosado’s fighting at in Philadelphia is the Asylum Arena…
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His weekly column, “Fighting Words,” appears every Monday on BoxingScene.com.
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