Are too many governing bodies and belts holding boxing back?

It seems as if the Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko fight is in jeopardy of happening. This is due to the WBA not sanctioning the fight. This shows how many different things are needed in order to make a mega-fight. This article will focus on how different governing bodies and belts have devalued the sport and the meaning of being a world champion.

With 17 weight divisions and over 100 different variations of world championship belts, it seems as if world titles are being handed out more easily than ever. Each of the governing bodies now operate with a minimum of 4 world champions. However the introduction of ‘regular’ and ‘super’ champions has only gone and increased this, making world championships less valuable by the day.

As well as this, there are different belts on offer to secure ranking positions in each governing body. Titles such as the ‘silver’, ‘international’ and ‘interim’ belts have made the standard of world championship champions diminish greatly. There is an argument that it is too easy for fighters to win world championships in this era with many people calling for a return to having one world champion per division.

These ranking based belts give the chance for fighters to work their way up into a ‘mandatory’ position for a world title shot. Although this provides a clear pathway for fighters, it can also lower the standards of mandatory world title defences which used to be a way of forcing exciting fights should boxers opt for easier voluntary title defences. Working in a way where the rankings for each governing body are so different makes it harder to make the most high-profile fights in boxing. For example, the likely fight for the WBA ‘super’ title is to be Lucas Browne vs Klitschko due to Browne’s ranking and affiliation with the WBA, rather than a more attractive fight between Wladimir and Joshua.

With so many political issues surrounding the making of fights in the sport, it is no wonder that so many fights are not being made; much to the dismay of many fans. Other reasons such as the choice of commentators and whose name will appear first on the fight posters have also been cited as reasons for fights falling through, making a promoters job almost impossible at times.

In addition to different rankings between the governing bodies, some bodies also have different rules regarding sanctioning fees and weigh-ins before a fight. The IBF have a 10 pound rule where a fighter cannot put on more than 10 pounds from the weigh-in until they step into the ring. This is a step which was taken for the safety of fighters as it prevents huge weight mismatches when it comes to fight night, meaning if one rehydrates more than his opponent, he has a significant size advantage. This means fighting for an IBF title is a much different experience and is another example of why fighters may not agree to certain fights.

It seems as if the big fights are becoming increasingly difficult to make due to the governance of the sport. Promotional and political disputes are more common than ever due to the numbers of belts and fighters contending for different prizes, meaning there is always a queue of fighters waiting for world title shots through fighting eliminators. This has gone a long way in devaluing the sport and it may take a drastic change to make these world title prestigious once again.