Just because a guy has a crown doesn’t make him the one, true king. This has especially been true in boxing since the 1980s, when the world championship was first fragmented into three pieces (WBA, WBC and IBF), and those pieces began to spend more time apart than together.
This system has the inevitable outcome of crowning unworthy titlists, paper champions of such inferior substance that they lose their title on either the first or second defense against even sub-par opponents.
This is a big part of the reason why Pro-Boxing Fans and The Ring magazine designate their own world champions, and treat the alphabet belts as if they were technicalities. Yet even when there is only one recognized champion, there is still the chance of a man rising to the top by happenstance or good fortune, and thereby becoming a weak champion. Sometimes it’s not the cream that sits on the top, and that is a plain fact.
These are my picks for the five weakest titlists in boxing, and therefore the five guys with belts most likely to lose theirs in the ring this year:
Stiverne is a good fighter, but he is too limited and has too many exciting guys with talent gunning for his scalp and his WBC heavyweight belt, the de facto North American championship. If Deontay Wilder doesn’t nail him, Bryant Jennings will.
In claiming a middleweight belt, Taylor showed he has enough stuff to take down the fringe contenders and tough journeymen at 160 lbs. Still, if Taylor ventures out after bigger game, there is enough solid talent at 160 lbs to make him regret it. He just isn’t the guy who beat Bernard Hopkins to claim the World Middleweight Championship anymore.
All things considered, this South African and super flyweight beltholder can punch, but his record points to uneven performances. Against a guy who can take or avoid his power, Tete might have a very bad night. In the speedy super flyweights, that could be just about any given outing.
If this journeyman survives the year in the talent-rich 154 lbs weight class with his red IBF belt around his waist, it will be because he avoided danger and the IBF didn’t force it on him. He won, lost, and re-won the title against strictly second-tier opponents.
Like Bundrage, Drozd is safe only so long as he stays inside his comfort zone. Unlike Bundrage, he campaigns in a division, the cruiserweights, that gives him a much more comfortable range. Even so, my gut tells me Drozd is one bad night away from losing his belt against even a merely above average cruiser.