So a guy named Trevor Bryan is fighting a guy named Jonathan Guidry this weekend.
They’re calling it – or, well, at least some are calling it – a heavyweight title fight.
If that alone doesn’t turn your stomach, go ahead and stop reading now.
For those still around, let’s look at some numbers.
Bryan is a 32-year-old New Yorker with a respectable 21-0 record, though that mark loses a little shine when you see he won his “title” from a version of Bermane Stiverne who’d not won a fight in 62 months and had been stopped twice – in a total of seven rounds – in his two most recent outings.
Guidry, meanwhile, is a 32-year-old Cajun with a compelling back story and exactly nothing else that warrants inclusion anywhere near a high-profile match. He’s never had a fight scheduled beyond eight rounds and has beaten a dubious collection of never-weres with a career win percentage of 46.1.
Yet there he is in the WBA rankings, one spot ahead of former WBO champ Joseph Parker.
Even for the perpetually corrupt Panamanian boxing cartel, it’s dreadful.
And as for anyone who doesn’t agree, well… you’re a big part of the problem.
So, ready or not, I’m feeling a bit crusade-y.
Either that or it’s another mid-life crisis.
And though no one’s asked my opinion in so many words, I’ve chosen this week to climb on the soapbox and enlighten with my own home remedy for boxing’s ills.
My personal sanctioning body if you like.
For lack of a better idea, and because all the good ones are taken, we’ll keep our name simple.
Ladies and gentlemen… I present the IMHO.
Of course, with the arrival of a supreme sanctioning body all others must be dissolved. So with apologies to office-bound hierarchies and corporate staffs, I bid adieu to the IBF, IBO, WBA, WBC and WBO.
Not to mention The Ring.
Sorry Oscar, I hope we can still be friends.
First order of business, we declare all existing championships vacant.
To all who’d been holding title belts when the ruling was handed down, thanks for your time.
Your service is noted and accomplishments are commended. Now please step back into line.
Our new slogan: “Lineal, schmineal. We’re the IMHO.”
P.S. – You can keep your belts if you’d like. You know, to show the grandkids someday as evidence that you were young once. Kind of like 8-track tapes. Or pay telephones.
But now… it’s on to new business.
At the risk of alienating the purists in the crowd – you know the type, folks who pine for eight weight classes and log-chopping training camps – we have an announcement.
The IMHO is a champion of technology. We’ll use replay to see when cuts and knockdowns are caused by punches. We’ll provide scratch pads to judges flummoxed by carrying 1s on their scorecards. And we’ll use computers to remove any trace of human bias from our ratings.
Of course, our immediate priority is filling title vacancies.
Using independent world boxing rankings, the top four in each weight class will be matched up in mini tournaments to start and end by this time next year.
Tourney winners get pristine new championship belts.
Losers will be placed in the mix for mandatory title defenses.
Each new champ will fight at least twice per year, once against the incumbent No. 1 challenger and once more against a top 10 contender of his choosing. If a champion chooses to fight three or more times in a year, other opponents can be picked at his whim.
Want to give an anonymous hometown kid a shot? Go for it. Want to pull the trigger on a guy 25 pounds lighter? Knock yourself out. And if you can win multiple titles and meet defense requirements in multiple classes, bravo.
Just don’t ask for special treatment. Because you won’t get it.
Meanwhile, fights between contenders will be called, well, fights between contenders.
Not interim title fights. Or title eliminators. Or any other trumped-up loosely translating to “Please remit 10 percent of your anticipated purse to the address below, in exchange for a meaningless title belt.”
Terms like super, interim, unified, undisputed, emeritus or in-recess have also been barred forever.
In fact, the mere mention of such imposters – or the very mouthing of the term “catch weight” at any official IMHO gathering – is grounds for permanent media suspension.
The IMHO’s weight-class boundaries are hard, fast and non-negotiable.
If a fighter chooses to defend his title two pounds lighter than the limit, so be it. But no title match will be sanctioned that requires any fighter to come in at anything other than the established weights.
It may irk the odd promoter or two, but it ought to satisfy fickle scribes quick to point out shortfalls in existing systems, while quickly lapping what the alphabets serve like parched dogs at a soiled toilet.
You can’t have it both ways. And in the IMHO era, you won’t.
Presuming the two top seeds advance in each weight class tourney, the inaugural list of IMHO championship bouts would look like this:
Heavyweight – Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk
Cruiserweight – Mairis Briedis vs. Ilunga Makabu
Light Heavyweight – Artur Beterbiev vs. Gilberto Ramirez
Super Middleweight – Canelo Alvarez vs. David Benavidez
Middleweight – Gennady Golovkin vs. Jermall Charlo
Junior Middleweight – Jermell Charlo vs. Brian Castano
Welterweight – Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford
Junior Welterweight – Josh Taylor vs. Regis Prograis
Lightweight – George Kambosos vs. Vasyl Lomachenko
Junior Lightweight – Oscar Valdez vs. Shavrat Rakhimov
Featherweight – Emmanuel Navarrete vs. Mauricio Lara
Junior Featherweight – Stephen Fulton vs. Brandon Figueroa
Bantamweight – Naoya Inoue vs. John Riel Casimero
Junior Bantamweight – Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Kazuto Ioka
Flyweight – Julio Cesar Martinez vs. Junto Nakatani
Junior Flyweight – Hiroto Kyoguchi vs. Masamichi Yabuki
Strawweight – Thammanoon Niyomtrong vs. Panya Pradabsri
Not to speak for the masses, but we IMHO types think that’s a schedule to be proud of.
And as for other day-to-day issues, they’ll be dealt with as they arise.
It ain’t rocket science. It’s just boxing.
And in my humble opinion, we couldn’t do a lot worse.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
WBC cruiserweight title – Warren, Ohio
Ilunga Makabu (champion/No. 2 IWBR) vs. Thabiso Mchunu (No. 1 WBC/No. 6 IWBR)
Makabu (28-2, 25 KO): Second title defense; Twelfth scheduled 12-round fight (10-1, 7 KO)
Mchunu (23-5, 13 KO): Second title fight (0-1); Lost by 11th round KO against Makabu in 2015
Fitzbitz says: Welcome to the Canelo Derby. The incumbent is penciled in for a PPV cashout, but has a hurdle here. Mchunu was leading when stopped in their first fight. Upset. Mchunu by decision (60/40)
Last week's picks: 0-1 (LOSS: Russell Jr.)
2022 picks record: 1-1 (50 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,210-393 (75.4 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.