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Boxing Belts and Their Value: Part 1

by Chris Waddams

NB: This article was written last week, before Josh Taylor and Ohara Davies, and the huge show at the Copperbox.

I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while but haven’t had the format to do so (my YouTube channel and Facebook page isn’t the right place for this, but the written word is!). So let’s get started! I’m going to be working from the view point of a fighter who holds a BBBofC licence. This is part one (of two) so when this article stops at the European belt don’t spit your Pot Noodle at the screen screaming at me because I missed out so much!

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 boxer; any fighter who wins and holds a championship belt has my respect regardless of what level that championship is.

Belts that are available for British fighters:

Challenge Belts

There are two challenge belts: the International and British. Both seem to hold the same weight from what I’ve seen but obviously the British is contested between two fighters from Britain and the International can be contested by anyone. The challenge belts are quite a new belt, having taken the place of the previously available Masters titles.

These belts are almost exclusively fought for on small hall, non televised shows. They give small hall promoters the chance to promote a show with a title fight on it, and they give fighters a chance to fight for a belt before they move on to fight for BBBofC recognised titles. They sometimes work like a final eliminator for an area title fight, but not always. The challenge belt can be the top of the mountain for some, the icing on the top of the cake of their boxing career. It can also be a stepping stone to bigger titles. Its value on the whole, they’re the entry level title when it comes to BBBofC fighters. Because of that it will score the lowest mark of 1/10.

Area Titles

The Area title is the BBBofC’s lowest recognised title. The BBBofC have split Britain into 7 different “Areas” and allocated belts to be fought for by fighters within those regions. The Areas are:

Scottish, Northern Ireland, Welsh, Northern, Central, Midlands, Southern

Some of the area titles seem to be regarded higher than others (or at least fought for by bigger names/more often). For example: Ricky Hatton’s first title was the Central Area title and Billy Joe Saunders’ first title was the Southern Area. On top of that the Southern Area title seems to get a lot more TV time than the other area titles, with Chris Hobbs vs Anthony Yarde and Alan Higgins vs Craig Richards both being on big TV cards in recent times and Asina Byfield vs Sammy McNess being aired on Box Nation this weekend. This could be just my blinkered “Southerner” view but I believe it to be true.

The area title is a prestigious title, and is worth its salt as those who win one will be remembered as a legitimate Boxing champion. At a mark out of 10 I’d say it’s a 2/10, but some fights for these titles belong higher up the ladder so it could easily be a 3/10. But this isn’t to say that the Area belt shouldn’t be looked at for entertainment, some of the best fights I’ve seen in person have been for the Southern Area title (See Craig Poxton vs Boy Jones Jr, Wadi Camacho vs Isaac Chamberlain, Alex Higgins vs Craig Richards and Asina Byfield vs John Brennan). I believe that because these fights come down to local rivalries it can elevate them to great small hall main events or show stealers on bigger cards. [See also last Saturday at the Copperbox- Asinia again! Ed]

Byfield in action beating McNess

National Titles

There are three national titles: The British, The English and The Celtic. The British is more prestigious and I will talk about it a bit later. The other two are what fighters within Britain can fight for if they’re just under British Level. The English title is fought for by English fighters (well durr) and the Celtic is for everyone else (Scotland, N.I and Wales). This is where you start to get into big level territory. Tyson Fury’s first professional title was the English title and Carl Frampton’s was the Celtic title.

These two titles are seen as mid level for domestic fighters. They provide a bit more prestige than an area title but for most domestic fighters the main aim is the British title. These titles can often be put on the line for eliminators for the British title (see Joe Mullender vs Elliott Matthews, Matty Ryan vs Ted Cheeseman and John O’Donnell vs Tamuka Muchapondwa). Again the English seems to get more recognition and for me will get a higher mark that the Celtic. I’ll be scoring the Celtic a 3/10 and the English 4/10, although the right fight can elevate either to a 5/10 Jahmaine Smyle vs Darryll Williams one and two anyone? 

British Title

Many see the British title as the best title that a British fighter can win. It has prestige and it’s a bloody beautiful belt! To be able to keep one you have to defend it successfully three times and one of those defences has to be a mandatory challenger (there are some situations that this rule and been bent – see Charlie Magri for the Flyweight British title). Although only available for fighters from Britain to fight for, it’s a world recognised title and those who win one often get recognition across the world for being a good fighter. Some believe that the title has lost a bit of its gloss in recent times with many fighters winning it and moving on before winning it outright. Before Ryan Walsh won his Featherweight title outright in May, the last person to win one outright was Billy Joe Saunders when he outpointed Chris Eubank Jr back in November 2014!

We could possibly see another man win the title outright this weekend in the form of Bradley Skeete, someone who I think shows how much the British title means to British fighters because he’s made it his mission to win it outright before moving onto challenging for world titles (he has a lofty ranking within the WBO, so who knows we could see him challenging the new WBO King Jeff Horn in the future?). For me the British title has a ranking of 6/10. I wanted to score it higher, but I couldn’t allow myself to get carried away with my love for the Lord Lonsdale Challenge Belt.

Now to welcome in those from Europe and the Commonwealth

Commonwealth Title

The Commonwealth title isn’t what is use to be. At one stage it was seen as a step above the British but is now seen as its equal, if not just below it in terms of prestige. Anyone from within the Commonwealth can fight for it though, which means a bigger array of opponents available for British fighters who fight for and defend this title. Once this would testing yourself against tougher opposition but more often than not now it can result in very easy fights against fighters with padded records from different parts of the Commonwealth. Still a nice belt to have though! Because of it’s lesser standard of late I’ll be scoring the Commonwealth title as an overall 5/10, even though some huge fights have been for the Commonwealth in the past (see Nigel Benn vs Michael Watson and more recently George Groves vs Glen Johnson and Anthony Joshua vs Dillian Whyte – although that was also for the British…) and if fights like them were to happen more regularly the Commonwealth title would be getting a 6/10

European (EBU) Title

The European title is what it says on the tin! Many fighters from Britain will go for the European as it generally gets you a world ranking (definitely with the WBC, not too sure about the other three), which could then lead to a world title. We’ve not seen many huge fights for the European title of late as many of our rising boxing starts jump past it or fight for governing body titles instead (I’ll get to them in Part 2), but the European title still has a lot of prestige. I’ll be marking the nice looking blue belt on a level with the British at 6/10, but it could and should be higher.

Thank you for reading part one of this list of Boxing Belts that are available to British fighters! I hope you’ve found it interesting so far. Look out for Part two where I get into the murky waters of governing body titles…

Chris is on Twitter: @Southpaw_jab & @Chriswadds

Picture of Asinia Byfield by Rob Tebbutt: @RobTebbutt

Posted: 11th Jul 2017

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