Floyd Mayweather admitted Wednesday night that his promotional company is at least partially responsible for one of boxing’s most prominent problems.
The retired superstar blamed the IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO and, to a lesser degree, Mayweather Promotions for there being entirely too many champions in the sport. Mayweather, who was promoting the Gervonta Davis-Leo Santa Cruz pay-per-view event, accused the most recognized sanctioning organizations of creating even more than four champions in the same weight classes simply to take more fees from fighters who compete for super, world and interim championships.
Davis’ promoter implored the aforementioned governing bodies and fellow promoters to band together to stop sanctioning practices that confuse current boxing fans and turn off those just casually interested in the sport.
“I wanna say this right now about the sport of boxing, and I want everybody at home to hear me when I say this – a belt, I’m tired and [when] I’m at home – and this goes for any company,” Mayweather said during Davis’ open workout in Las Vegas, which was streamed live on Showtime Sports’ YouTube channel. “I don’t care if it’s Top Rank, if it’s Golden Boy [Promotions], if it’s Mayweather Promotions, if it’s PBC – there’s too many champions in the sport of boxing right now. Too many champions. It’s not a such thing as a super champion, not at all. And I’m not taking nothing away from no fighter. It’s too many belts.
“And the reason why it’s too [many belts], let me tell people what’s going on in the sport of boxing, why there’s so many different titles and so many different belts. People don’t know you have to pay, for every belt that you win, there’s a sanctioning fee. So now, if a fighter wins an interim belt, he has to pay a sanctioning fee. If a fighter has just the regular belt, he has to pay a sanctioning fee. Then, if a fighter is a super champion, then he has to pay a sanctioning fee. This is not good for the sport of boxing. Now, when a fighter fights, every fighter is a champion now. Belts now is like a fighter winning an amateur trophy. Everybody is a champion. Everybody have a belt.”
Sanctioning organizations typically take 3 percent from the purses of champions and challengers when he or she competes for one of its titles. The IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO generally charge promoters a flat fee for sanctioning title fights as well.
Those sanctioning bodies sometimes take less than three percent from boxers’ purses when multiple titles are at stake in the same championship match. It is possible, however, for fighters to pay a total of 12 percent from their purses in a full title unification bout, when four titles are on the line.
Mayweather implicated his own company in these sanctioning shenanigans because just two months ago one his fighters, Rolando Romero, won the WBA’s interim lightweight title when he recorded a controversial 12-round, unanimous-decision victory over Jackson Marinez at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Romero’s win August 15 made him the WBA’s fourth lightweight champion, in addition to Davis, who owns the WBA’s world 135-pound title, Vasiliy Lomachenko, who lost the WBA’s “super” lightweight crown to Teofimo Lopez on Saturday night at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, and gold champion Yvan Mendy.
The WBA currently recognizes at least three champions in 12 of boxing’s 17 weight classes.
Santa Cruz and Davis will fight for Santa Cruz’s WBA “super” 130-pound crown when they meet in a Showtime Pay-Per-View main event October 31 at Alamodome in San Antonio. Davis’ WBA world 135-pound championship also will be at stake, even though neither Davis nor Santa Cruz can weigh in above the junior lightweight limit of 130 pounds for their 12-round fight.
The WBC also has drawn more criticism since June 2019, when it introduced the franchise champion designation. Franchise championships were not supposed to be transferable, but Lopez won the WBC’s franchise lightweight title from Lomachenko.
“Now, we look at the lightweight division, OK,” said Mayweather, who owned WBA “super” championships in the 147-pound and 154-pound divisions during the final few years of his career. “And I wanna say the fight the other day [Lopez-Lomachenko] was a hell of a fight. Congratulations to the winner. He done his job. He went out there and did what he had to do. But if Devin Haney is the WBC champion at lightweight, right, and Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis is the WBA champion, now it’s safe to say that Teofimo is the IBF and the WBO champion. But I can’t knock what he has done, because I have to take my hat off to him, you know, for what he has done.”
Mayweather’s claim regarding Haney and Davis aside, Lopez certainly can argue that he is boxing’s undisputed lightweight champion. He defended his IBF belt when he out-boxed the favored Lomachenko to win a unanimous decision, and took the WBA “super,” WBC franchise and WBO championships from the Ukrainian southpaw.
Lomachenko was widely viewed as the true WBA and WBC lightweight champion, even though Haney and Davis have won versions of those 135-pound crowns.
Lomachenko defeated Luke Campbell by 12-round unanimous decision to win the then-vacant WBC world lightweight title in August 2019 at O2 Arena in London.
Less than two weeks after Lomachenko conquered Campbell, Haney stopped Zaur Abdullaev following the fourth round to win the WBC’s interim lightweight title at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York. The WBC elevated Haney from interim title-holder to world champion once it designated Lomachenko as its franchise champion.
Fifteen months before he beat Campbell, Lomachenko knocked out Jorge Linares in the 10th round at Madison Square Garden to win the WBA’s “super” lightweight title.
Linares was commonly considered the WBA’s legitimate lightweight champion at that time. Davis later won a vacant version of the WBA’s 135-pound championship when he stopped Yuriorkis Gamboa in the 12th round last December 28 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Regardless, Mayweather wants more championship clarity in the sport.
“I don’t wanna knock no fighter, but I’m tired of seeing fighters after the fight, everybody got a championship belt now,” Mayweather said. “Now boxing, all these belts is like trophies. The WBC, the WBA, the IBF and the WBO, y’all have to clean this sh-t up. Y’all have to clean this up. This is bad for boxing. Ain’t a such thing as no super champion. You guys are just taking extra money from all these fighters, getting extra money from sanctioning fees. And this goes for my company as well. We gotta clean this sport of boxing up. This sh-t, this don’t look good. When you look on TV now, everybody’s a champion. You see all these fighters posing with a belt.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.