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Boxing Belts And Their Value: Part 2

by Chris Waddams

PART 1 HERE

NB: This article was written before July 8th when Anthony Yarde won the WBO European title, and Ohara Davies lost his WBC Silver belt to Josh Taylor.

Hopefully you’ve read Part One of this two part article about Boxing Belts available to British boxers and their value. If you haven’t, go read it now, the link is above!

For those who have read it (and those who went and read it and are now re-joining us on part two) we are now entering the muddy waters of the governing bodies and their lust for sanctioning fees

Again, I do want to point out that even though I will be ranking the titles as to how I see their value to a British fighter; any fighter who wins and holds any championship belt has my respect regardless of what level that championship is.

We’ve covered Domestic, Commonwealth and European. Now onto the whole world!

Governing Body titles

Now there are LOADS of governing body titles out there, so I will be generalising slightly and possibly missing out some (Sorry Youth World titles and International Silver titles – I’m looking at you WBC with that last one…) and I won’t be saying whether the WBC International title is worth more than the WBO/WBA/IBF’s versions. I’ll save that for the actual world titles. And then you can check back and compare… if you really want to.

Continental/International/Inter-Continental title

There isn’t really much difference between the Continental, International or Inter-Continental titles in my eyes, except for where they will eventually put you on the rankings. In my opinion these titles are just there for three things:

  1. To get a ranking within a governing body

  2. To be able to call the fighter a champion

  3. To sell a show as an international title fight card

You could also say that the Governing Body European title is also here for the above three things but I’ll talk about that separately.

Some of the opposition you get our prospects fighting in these fights wouldn’t even cut the mustard for English or Celtic titles fight, and in some situations not even an Area title! I’ll rank them like this:

  • Continental – 3/10

  • International – 3/10

  • Inter-Continental – 4/10

My reasoning for those ranks is that historically the Inter-Continental gave the winner a higher ranking that the Continental or the International

European Title

Yes I’ve covered the European title already in part one but some governing bodies have their own that they put up for grabs (I could technically put the actual European (EBU) title in this little bracket as it is run by the WBC at the top level… but I won’t as they don’t call it the WBC European title). This title again is just a belt to get a ranking and to be able to call your fighter a champion. The governing body European titles are pretty new but seem to be getting a lot of exposure of late (Anthony Yarde will fight for the WBO’s version this weekend and for a while it looked like his fight might have been the headline fight…).

It must be down to lower sanctioning fees or the governing body offering a higher ranking after picking up this belt over a Continental/ International title. But it’s the same old thing when it comes to these titles, unless you get a local rivalry or a domestic dust up for them (see Jono Carroll vs John Quigley or Craig Evans vs Stephen Ormond – both from the same fight card) they’re normally run of the mill fights again with opponents who wouldn’t get English title shots. Because we seem to get a bit better opposition for these fights (on paper at least) and with the two classics that I mentioned above, I’m going to give the Governing Body European title a 4/10.

Now the World titles

Well that covers governing body titles, so onto “World” Titles now. Before I go into this I want to say there are FOUR universally recognised world titles. For those who don’t know they are:

  • WBA

  • WBC

  • IBF

  • WBO

Sorry Chris Eubank Jr, the IBO doesn’t count as one of the big 4. In my opinion it’s the 5th world title, but it doesn’t hold much water. When it comes to the MANY alphabet titles out there (WBU, IBU, IBC, WBF) they don’t hold much prestige above an area title. The WBU did have some prestige when the likes of Ricky Hatton was fighting for it, but it’s gone way down hill since then.

If you want to rank the IBO and its other titles (Continental, International etc). I’ll give the world title a 7/10 and then take my marks for the governing bodies belts from above, and take a mark off and you have my IBO ranks.

Right! So let’s get on with it!

WBC Silver Title

I was talking to a good friend and a very good pro boxer about the WBC title the other month. And we came to the conclusion that the WBC Silver is a bit like having the European title but being able to defend it against opponents from across the world. And I still stand by that analogy. It also gets you a nice ranking within the WBC and in some cases (see George Groves and Callum Smith when they held the belt) it acts like a marker as the fighters position as the number 1 contender for the WBC world title. This title’s prestige almost comes down to who the fighter is who holds it. For example, Ohara Davies is the current WBC Silver champion at Super Lightweight and with him as the champion I’d give it a prestige level on par with the European title of 6/10. But when George Groves held it I’d bump it up to 7/10 just because it doubled up as a “number 1 contender’s belt” in that instance.

WBA Regular title

Ah the WBA Regular title, I was tempted to give this title an unbelievably low mark because how can you have more than one WBA World champion!? The guy who is the regular champion can’t even say he’s seen as the best within the WBA because there will be a Super Champion that they regard higher than them. But then I remembered some of the fighters who have fought for the Regular title and they are legitimate world champions (Carl Froch was unified with the IBF while he was WBA Regular and Jamie McDonnell would/ could/ should have been the unified WBA Regular IBF WBO champion if it wasn’t for the political side of the sport). So in turn the Regular champion is a world champion, but he isn’t THE WBA world champion – that’s the Super champion (it’s hurting my head just writing this, so I feel for you if it’s hurting yours). Because of that I’m going to give it 7/10

WBO World title

The WBO is a belt that is close to many British boxing fans hearts if they are of a certain age. If you’re in your late 20’s to early 40’s you’ll remember watching Chris Eubank defend his WBO title throughout the 90s against the likes of Nigel Benn, Michael Watson and eventually Steve Collins. You’ll also remember that Joe Calzaghe defeated the aforementioned Mr Eubank to win his first world title, which just so happened to be the WBO title. If you’re at the younger end of the age spectrum I gave above (like I am) what you might not have known during that time is that the WBO is probably younger than you are, having only been formed in 1988. It is the youngest of the big 4 governing bodies and has had a fair bit of criticism thrown its way in that short amount of time (Google Darrin Morris and how he moved up their rankings after he had died…). Because of this the WBO is the bottom of the 4 and I’m going to rank it as such and give it 8/10

IBF World Title

The IBF was formed after Bob Lee lost his bid to become the WBA president and he and his allies decided to create their own international governing body. It struggled to gain recognition for a few years until they began to recognise champions from the WBC and WBA as their current champions and in the case of Larry Holmes, he vacated the WBC title to accept the IBF’s recognition. This went a long way in making the IBF the third recognised governing body. The IBF has also had its criticism, many believing that their mandatory challengers are not up to scratch (see Kell Brook’s reign as IBF Welterweight Champion) but with every coin there are two sides – they generally enforce their mandatories (there are noteworthy exceptions!). If it hadn’t been for their decision to allow Anthony Joshua to not take on his mandatory challenger and go ahead with the rematch with Wladimir Klitschko and the parallels it has with their decision to strip Tyson Fury for exactly the same thing, I’d have been given them 9/10. But they’re now getting 8/10. I'm sure they will be losing sleep over my decision...

WBA Super Title

The WBA is the oldest governing body, having originally been the NBA but changing its name to WBA in 1962 because of the growing popularity of boxing across the world. But the WBA have also had their fair share of criticism and controversy over the years. Back in the 80s there was huge amounts of talk about corruption within the WBA and that pressure was put on judges to favour certain fighters in fights, and bung money to obtain higher rankings or to gain title fights for fighters. In a case of “the WBO’s” they kept a fighter in their rankings following his death in 2015. But they didn’t go full WBO; at least he dropped down their rankings from 5th to 11th

Then there’s the whole Super/Regular title nonsense (don’t get me started on their love for an interim title as well). The premise of a Super Champion is that the WBA champion will be elevated to Super status when they unify with another of the big 4 world titles. But that’s not always the case. For example, Fedor Chudinov was elevated to Super Champion after one defence of his title against Frank Buglioni and Gennady Golovkin was elevated for making 10 successful defences of his WBA title. What ever they say on the surface, they create a super champion to be able to create a regular champion and get more sanctioning fees. This is why many now don’t see the WBA title (Super or otherwise) as THE world title anymore. And because of this the WBA Super title now misses out on the full 10/10 and gets 9/10

WBC World Title

Until the early to mid 2000s you could have called the WBC title the Don King Title. Such was his favouritism towards the green belt and the governing bodies' perceived favouritism towards Don King promoted or managed fighters. Like all the big governing bodies they aren’t without their own controversy. In 1998 they crowned Graciano Rocchigiani their new Light-Heavyweight champion after he won the vacant title in a fight against Michael Nunn. The title was vacant because Roy Jones Jnr had decided to relinquish his WBC title, a move he later decided he didn’t want to do. The WBC reinstated Jones as their Light-Heavyweight champion and sent Rocchingiani a letter telling him that the publication of his name as champion was a typographical error and that he had never been the official title holder. This led to a big lawsuit and almost the end of the WBC as they filed for bankruptcy after losing the court case and being ordered to pay Rocchingiani $30m! It took the boxing community to plead with Rocchingiani to settle outside of the courtroom with the WBC to stop them going out of business.

In more recent times they have asked defending champions to pay high sanctioning fees days before fights to have the fight go ahead for their title (see Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez). Having said that, the WBC started off pretty well. Their biggest influence on world boxing has to be the decision to shorten title fights from 15 rounds to 12. And things have improved with the WBC and it has seemingly happened in line with the fall of Don King and his hold on Boxing (especially in America). With all that has been said, I’m going to give the WBC a full 10/10

There you have it. The boxing gospel according to Chris Waddams, all opinions are my own! Let me know if you do or don’t agree with me on twitter @chriswadds and @southpaw_jab. Southpaw Jab also has a Facebook and YouTube Page, go check them out as well!

Posted: 13th Jul 2017

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