By Eric Armit
I felt instinctively that the four major sanctioning bodies were very successful companies when it came to growth. They are “companies”. Income and expenditure has to be controlled, employees have to be paid, business is conducted on an international basis and there is competition from the other sanctioning bodies. They are companies with just one major source of income and that is sanctioning fees for their title fights. When I was a lad there were only eight divisions (no I don’t remember bare knuckles and knee britches so don’t ask) and generally one universally recognised champion in each division with Ring Magazine the accepted gospel on who those champions were. The first big change came when a world-wide coalition of boxing movers and shakers became so angered at the machinations of the WBA that they met and supported the set up the WBC. After that with no improvement in the way the WBA conducted its affairs a break-away group set up the IBF and later another group of people and organisations dissatisfied with the WBA set up the WBO. Now we had four bodies who in order to survive had to take money out of the pockets of promoters and boxers so effectively out of boxing. These bodies quickly realised that sanctioning fees from world title fights alone was not enough for them to sustain or grow their organisations. Even increasing the number of weight divisions from eight eventually to seventeen was not enough so like any business that sees its single product (world titles) is not bringing in enough money you have to diversify (create more title). At one time you might have described the proliferation of titles as a cottage industry but it seemed to me it has developed from there into a production line with new titles manufactured with a frequency that Ford Motors might envy. But was my instinct right or my perception false? I decided to do a check as to whether the proliferation activities were as rampant as I thought they were.
At the high end of the market there are still world titles but they have not been spared proliferation. We now have Super titles, plain old World titles, Regular titles (and that is a misnomer if ever there was one) and Interim titles and some champions have been labelled Champion in Recess, Champion Emeritus. Whilst I can make some kind of weird sense about those Super etc. I have no idea what the WBC Diamond title is and the WBA have switched Arsen Goulamirian from interim champion to Gold champion whatever that means.
The IBF so far have stuck with one world champion and are to be congratulated for that so they have 17 titles, The WBA list Super, regular and Interim so if we ignore their Gold then they have 51 tiles, the WBC have World and Interim and if we ignore their Diamond they have 34 and the WBO also has World and Interim so another 34. We have gone from 8 world titles to 136 world titles. That’s proliferation.
Since their first title fight in 1983 there have been 1,312 fights with the IBF title involved. For the WBA, since the split off by the WBC in 1962 there have been 2049 fights involving a WBA world title. Since 1962 there have been 2003 fights involving the WBC title and since their birth in 1988 1,134 fights involving the WBO title although many of the fights above involved unification of the titles.
The real growth industry has been in the area of the various Regional titles such as Inter-Continental, Latino, Asia Pacific, WBO European (I differentiate from the EBU as their titles are nothing to do with the WBC), International, North American etc. The IBF has 14 titles of this nature, The WBA has 11, the WBC has 26 and the WBO has 15. With 17 divisions involved that means there are now 1,132 titles which did not exist until the sanctioning bodies set the production line going at full throttle and don’t even let me get started on the IBO, WBFederation, WBFoundation, Global Boxing Council, Global Boxing Union, Universal Boxing Federation etc. and for all of the above in theory you also have female titles!
If the above has done nothing for you then for me it tells me that my perception and reality are in agreement and if I am dumb enough to write another piece like this in a year’s time there will even more titles and title fights-it’s what growth industries do.
It’s a relief to see that the WBSS is still alive. The 27 April show featuring Regis Prograis vs. Kiryl Relikh in the super light semi-final and Nonito Donaire vs. Zolani Tete bantam semi-final has no venue yet but having a date is good news after all of the uncertainty. In the other semi-finals in Glasgow on 18 May both the Josh Taylor vs. Ivan Baranchyk IBF title fight and the Emmanuel Rodriguez vs. Naoya Inoue bantam match (it can’t be a unification fight as Inoue only holds the secondary WBA title) are the sort of clashes that made the first WBSS such a success.
French heavyweight Tony Yoka is coming to the end of a one year suspension for dodging four tests. There are already names being put forward for him with former WBC title challenger Johann Duhaupas on the list but it looks as though that will not happen until later in the year.
Artur Beterbiev will defend his IBF light heavy title against Swede Sven Fornling in Stockton on 4 May. There had been talk of Beterbiev fighting on a show in Moscow in April sharing the top billing with Murat Gassiev who will by then have fully recovered from the shoulder injury that has kept him out of the ring since losing to Oleg Usyk in July.
Great show being put together for Inglewood on 26 April. WBC super fly champion Srisaket and Juan Francisco Estrada will clash again as Estrada seeks to get revenge for his loss to Srisaket in February 2018 and WBA super bantam champion Daniel Roman and IBF champion JT Doheny face each other in a unification match with Scott Quigg and Jesse Vargas also on the show.
According to some sources by beating Bermane Stiverne Joy Joyce won a WBA eliminator and could fight Manuel Charr for the secondary WBA title later this year. As Stiverne is a former world champion there was some interest in how Joyce would handle him but that the WBA saw a 40-year-old fat and out of condition Stiverne who had not fought for 15 months and seen less than three minute ring time in over three years as a suitable guy to fight in a world title eliminator is up to their usual standards. It seems that the mandated fight for Charr to defend against Fres Oquendo- who has not fought since July 2014-is no longer mandated. That’s good news for Joyce as he would start as favourite against Charr who last fought in November 2017. Charr was given a derisory six month ban after testing positive for two banned substances. Compare that to Tony Yoka who was banned for a year for avoiding tests so never tested positive with Charr who tested positive for two banned substances only banned for six months.
Filipino Donnie Nietes has his sights set on some attractive matches and obviously feels that he does not want anything to stand in the way of those hopes so has withdrawn from the purse bidding for a defence of his WBO flyweight title against Aston Palicte and has relinquished the title. It would be interesting to see Nietes fight IBF champion and fellow Filipino Jerwin Ancajas but Ancajas has agreed to defend his title against his mandatory challenger Ryuichi Funai.
Badou jack is staying in the boxing business. The former WBC super middle champion and holder of the secondary WBA light heavy title is setting up his own promoting company out in Dubai with 3 May the projected date for his first show.
Recent purses saw Leo Santa Cruz reportedly getting $1 million for fighting Rafael Rivera, Gervonta Davis collecting $1 million for his defence against Hugo Ruiz with Ruiz picking up $100,000. On the Santa Cruz undercard Omar Figueroa was paid $225, 000 and John Molina $200,000 for their fight and on the undercard to Davis vs. Ruiz Mario Barrios , Sharif Bogere and Ishe Smith received $75,000 each with Erickson Lubin paid $41,400 and Javier Fortuna $40,000. Good money but if it was doable Santa Cruz and Davis would be looking to more than double their payments.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features