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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 05 March 2018 at 9:55am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I was thinking earlier about prestige in sports, specifically how there isn't always ONE world champion or ONE prestigious tournament.

Okay, firstly, boxing. Is there one world heavyweight champion? There should be, but there isn't. Here are the "alphabet groups": 

WBA (World Boxing Association) 
WBC (World Boxing Council) 
IBF (International Boxing Federation) 
WBO (World Boxing Organization) 

WBA was the original sanctioning body of boxing. It was founded in the 1920s. The WBC came later (1960s), founded by many nations (its HQ is in Mexico). The IBF was a splinter from from the WBA. And the WBO is a splinter group from the WBA.

Sounds a bit messy. If I were a boxer, would I really feel prestigious if others were also 'world champions'. We only have one world. Isn't the whole point of a world championship is that it represents, well, the world? Some boxers can hold belts from different groups - and, of course, there are different weight classes - but if you were asked to name the world heavyweight champion in boxing, well take your pick: 

Manuel Charr (WBA) 
Deontay Wilder (WBC) 
Joseph Parker (WBO) 
Anthony Joshua (IBF)

I think I have that right, although there is the concept of "Super Champions" which I am not entirely sure I understand. I checked a sports site to be sure, those are the champions as listed.

All talented champions, I'm sure. But despite the fact we live on one world, there are somehow FOUR "world champions". Seems odd. I do wish the various alphabet groups had never been created. Well, I wish only one had been created. 

Wrestling is a quasi-sport, but as it is presenting athletic contests, it presents a certain prestige. World Championship Wrestling (WCW), the main rival to WWF, was in existence from 1988 to 2001. It had numerous belts. And that became a bit unwieldy. 

There was the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, considered the pinnacle belt for WCW wrestlers (the likes of Hulk Hogan wore it). Then was also the WCW United States title, a belt of lesser renown, which represented, well, the US. Both were prestigious belts within the context of a spectacle presented by a quasi-sport. 

Bizarrely, in 1994, the WCW created the - wait for it - WCW International World Heavyweight Championship. So not the WCW World Heavyweight Championship, but very similar. Obviously, wrestlers are booked to win belts rather than winning them in legitimate sporting contests, but the fact remains that it was unwieldy. How could the holder of the WCW World Heavyweight Championship be considered the top guy if there was also a guy holding the WCW International World Heavyweight Championship?

I don't follow snooker that closely anymore, but there seem to be so many tournaments.

Doesn't having multiple tournaments and multiple "world" champions dilute everything? I'm glad that the FIFA World Cup is unique. Imagine if a splinter group set up a "World Cup" and we had two national teams holding trophies.

Any thoughts?



Edited by Robbie Parry on 05 March 2018 at 9:57am
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 05 March 2018 at 6:02pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

I haven't followed boxing in years, but I remember unifying the 3 belts was always a big deal (the WBO was the newbie).

I tried watching some boxing a few months ago and what looked like an obvious decision of course went the other way. Even the color analyst, Teddy Atlas, was out loud frustrated with the decision saying something to the effect of "this is what's wrong with boxing today..."
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 06 March 2018 at 2:48pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

It's just hard to think of someone as a "world champion" when you have alphabet groups.

Wrestling may be a quasi-sport, but even that found odd. There was a National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) champion who competed around the globe and in various territories, but really, the majority of "world champions" were company champions.

I mean, the WWF World Champion only defended the belt against other WWF stars, it's not like he left for India or Germany for a while and defended against a regional champion. If touring those countries, he was facing other WWF opponents.

It's messy. ;-)
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 06 March 2018 at 7:12pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Charr is not the real WBA champ. AJ is the holder of the WBA and IBF belts. The 'super' bit means the WBA recognise AJ as a unified belt holder. Charr is the 'regular' holder, which is the WBA's way of having their cake and eating it.

AJ fights Parker at the end of this month in another unification fight. The winner of that fight will hold the WBA, IBF and IBO belts.

It seems very likely that a fight with Wilder will follow to give us an undisputed heavyweight champ for the first time in a long, long time.

Boxing does itself no favours. I watched the Wilder vs Ortiz fight on Saturday. Wilder won by KO, but Ortiz had boxed well up to that point and was a whisker away from knocking Wilder out in the 7th round. The judges had Wilder ahead on their cards though, which seems odd.

Also, there was a fight a few years ago between Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson. Khan was the WBA and IBF light-welterweight champ at that point and actually agreed to fight in Peterson's home town of Washington DC (bad idea). The ref docked points from Khan in two separate rounds for 'pushing'. Khan knocked Peterson down in the first round. The judges ruled it in favour of Peterson with a split decision. A few months later, Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone which he subsequently admitted to using. The WBA stripped him of the belt. Incredibly, the IBF kept him as its champion.


Edited by Peter Martin on 06 March 2018 at 7:13pm
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 07 March 2018 at 3:29am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Thanks for the clarifications, Peter.

And, wow, what a mess! 
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Neil Lindholm
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Posted: 07 March 2018 at 3:40am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

You missed some. :)

WBS - World Boxing Society
ABO - American Boxing Organization International
UBF - Universal Boxing Federation
WBL - World Boxing League 
WBU - World Boxing Union
GBU - Global Boxing Union
TAB - Trans America Boxing
UBO - Universal Boxing Organization
WBF - World Boxing Foundation
WIBA - Women's International Boxing Association
GBC - Global Boxing Council
IFBA - International Female Boxers Association
IBA - International Boxing Association
WBU - World Boxing Union
WIBF - Women's International Boxing Federation
IBO - International Boxing Organization
IWBF - International Women's Boxing Federation
IBC - International Boxing Council
WPBF - World Professional Boxing Federation
WBF - World Boxing Federation
NBA  - National Boxing Association

For all I know, I might be the champion of a few of these. Insanity. 
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 07 March 2018 at 4:20am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Jesus, Neil, where did all those come from? ;-)

Off to Google I go...

I know the BBC Sport site and boxing publications don't list those. I'm guessing it's either down to space restrictions or the fact that the four main alphabet groups are considered the pinnacle.

I mean, again, where did all those come from? I am out of the loop!
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Neil Lindholm
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Posted: 07 March 2018 at 5:53am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Found them online. Don't know if they are all still valid or how popular they are but I remembered reading somewhere that there were actually many more than just the main four so I found these. 
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 07 March 2018 at 5:56am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

It's shocking!

I mean, a couple of them would be geographic (ABO and TAB), but others sound global. 

It would only serve to dilute things, surely?

It may not be a perfect comparison, but it would be like several splinter groups leaving FIFA and us having numerous World Cup competitions.
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Neil Lindholm
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Posted: 07 March 2018 at 7:11am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

It does seem like madness. You would think all the parties would organize into one body in order to move the sport forward instead of being so fractious. 
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 07 March 2018 at 7:21am | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Indeed.

I haven't got time to Google all of them (yet), but I Googled World Boxing Society. It's a Thailand-based organisation that appears to want to break into Far Eastern markets. How on earth can they call themselves "World" Boxing Society?

I find it misleading and, as you stated, fractious.

Imagine other businesses. Imagine if a Thai-based company, selling watches, called itself World Exporters Of Watches. People might expect a global presence - but that'd be misleading. Thailand Watches would surely be better, right?

Boxing needs to stop the game of "alphabet soup". Someone I know is looking to get into boxing - he's watched a few bouts recently - and it's hard enough explaining WBA/WBC/WBO/IBF to him, without going into detail about the other alphabet groups.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 07 March 2018 at 9:47am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Although these organisations exist, they are not recognised as determining world champs. Only the WBA, WBO, WBC and IBF do that... and they only really recognise each.

The trouble with boxing is that fighters at the top level fight so infrequently. There is an organisation called the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board that attempts to identify who is the true champion for each weight division. It currently has most weight classes listed as vacant...
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 07 March 2018 at 10:03am | IP Logged | 13 post reply

The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board?! Hadn't heard of them until now. 

This topic has involved me going deeper and deeper down a rabbit hole. ;-)
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 07 March 2018 at 12:32pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

You've also got the Ring magazine which keeps a record of who it thinks is the lineal champ. The trouble with the lineal champ method (to be the champ you have to beat the previous champ) is what do you do when the lineal champ changes weight class, retires or is otherwise disposed?

The Ring had this problem: they had Wladimir Klitschko as their lineal heavyweight champ, who then lost to Tyson Fury. But then Tyson Fury lost his boxing licence after failing a drugs test and other personal issues... So no-one could face the lineal champ. 
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 07 March 2018 at 12:57pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Yes, that sounds problematic (I didn't realize The Ring magazine was still going, it's been years since I've seen it on the shelves).

I did occasionally buy KO Magazine, which I think was published by the same company that published Pro Wrestling Illustrated. At the time, I found it slightly amusing that a publisher would publish magazines for both a real sport and a fake one.
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Kevin Brown
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Posted: 08 March 2018 at 7:45am | IP Logged | 16 post reply

Not only do you have all the "Leagues", "Federations", etc., to deal with, THEN you have the weight classes in each one as well!
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 08 March 2018 at 9:58am | IP Logged | 17 post reply

I sort of understand that, Kevin, although I do remember an editorial (possibly in KO MAGAZINE) which suggested the weight divisions could be streamlined.

No-one, of course, is suggesting that flyweights battle heavyweights, but there are some weight divisions which *could* be merged (maybe).
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 08 March 2018 at 1:08pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

There's two ways to look at such a proposal.

In favour of streamlining, there used to be fewer weight classes. There is a penchant for the outstanding fighters in the middle range to hop around weight classes (welterweight all the way up to super-middleweight seems to be an elastic journey for some).

Against it, the newer weight classes make sense. For instance, cruiserweight was a response to the increasingly huge size of the standard heavyweight fighter. It doesn't seem fair for a 6', 195 lb fighter to be up against a hulk like AJ (6' 6'' tall and weighing 250 lbs). Rocky Marciano had a perfect record back in the 50s, but would concede more than 8 inches in height and an incredible 16 inches in reach to Deontay Wilder if he was fighting today.

Also, the authorities would look very bad indeed if they streamlined the weight-classes, forcing (say) what was previously a junior middleweight to fight a middleweight and then the lighter fighter got seriously injured.

There has always been a natural mobility through the weight classes (Sugar Ray Robinson started as a welterweight, but with age became a natural middleweight and once even fought at light heavyweight). It's one thing to have a fighter opt to take on the dangers of fighting a naturally bigger opponent, though, and another thing entirely to routinely increase the number of such matchups by a forced change in the divisions. 
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 March 2018 at 5:00am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Are there any mergers you think would be wise, Peter?

I really wish I could remember the proposals put forward by the editor (I'm 99% sure it was in KO MAGAZINE). It was a late 90s copy so I doubt I have it here.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 09 March 2018 at 7:50am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Not really, Robbie. I may be painting with a broad brush here, but most people only really pay attention to welterweight and above. Of those weight classes, super middleweight is the newest one and it's proven to be a really good division. Joe Calzaghe, Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Andre Ward... some great boxers have operated for major parts of their careers in that weight class.

Edited by Peter Martin on 09 March 2018 at 7:53am
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 March 2018 at 8:06am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Oh, I remember fondly, when boxing used to air on 'free' TV, the Benn/Eubank bouts. Good stuff!

And as far as under middleweight goes, I used to enjoy watching Roberto Durán's bouts. 
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 09 March 2018 at 12:09pm | IP Logged | 22 post reply

Roberto Duran was part of a classic era with the Hitman Hearns, Marvellous Marvin Hagler, and Sugar Ray Leonard. Most of that was at middleweight, but some classic bouts were at welter. Duran had a great deal of fights at lightweight (and an appearance in Rocjky II!), but I would say he didn't really capture the public's imagination until he moved up to welter and took on Sugar Ray for the title.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 09 March 2018 at 12:12pm | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I'd agree with that.

Ah, Thomas Hearns. I'd forgotten about him.
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Brian Floyd
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 2:15am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Pro wrestling titles don't mean as much as they used to. 

In pro wrestling, being given a title used to mean that you were `The Man'; that the promotion recognized you were one of their most popular stars or someone that they had faith in to carry the promotion and keep the fans entertained and draw money.

But these days, the major feds (WWE and Impact) seem to just toss their titles on whoever they damn well please, hot shot the titles around, and are more or less storyline props than anything. Ric Flair's 16 World Championships were all won when being the champ meant something. John Cena is tied with Flair, and he hasn't even wrestled for 20 years yet. Randy Orton already has 13.

Look at Brock Lesnar. Since he returned to the WWE, he's defended the championship sporadically each time he's won it. 






Edited by Brian Floyd on 12 March 2018 at 2:20am
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 3:44am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Oh, I agree. Quality over quantity.

You've mentioned Flair and others so I'll cover something different: love him or hate him, when Hulk Hogan won his fifth WWF Title, no matter the circumstances, it felt special. Same when Bret Hart won his fifth WWF Title. At the time, Hart had been through Hell and back: winning it from Flair, reclaiming from Yokozuna, defeating Diesel in a brutal bout, winning the belt in a 4-way elimination match, and then defeating a top star in the Undertaker. Those five victories did feel special.

Yet in the modern era, a dozen or more don't. They don't have that same credibility.

That isn't me being a "the old days were better..." kind of person. I genuinely feel it is true. Each victory for the likes of Flair, Hogan, Hart and others felt special. When they regained a belt, it was against insurmountable odds. It was built up well. Take Hart's third WWF title reign: he'd been screwed out of it due to Bob Backlund and Owen Hart's shenanigans. He'd battled Diesel to an inconclusive finish at the 1995 ROYAL RUMBLE. He'd spent the remainder of the year proving himself again. So when he took it from Diesel at the 1995 SURVIVOR SERIES, it felt like a major accomplishment.

When the belt has been passed around like it has been in recent years, it isn't as special. Ten, twelve or more reigns today is not as prestigious as five or more reigns from yesteryear.


Edited by Robbie Parry on 12 March 2018 at 3:45am
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