Home Columns My New Year’s boxing resolution: Stop paying attention to the sanctioning bodies

My New Year’s boxing resolution: Stop paying attention to the sanctioning bodies

Credit: Tom Casino / Showtime

The madness that exists within the sanctioning bodies has crossed the line. I mean, we have organizations crowning multiple champions within the same division at this point. All they do is cloud the water and make the championship picture utterly indecipherable. Writers and commentators need to opt for a more de-facto style of designating champions. Complaining about the sanctioning bodies is a worn-out lament on many levels. But their practices have become so utterly absurd that we need to refresh it from time to time.

When looking at it, it’s really not that hard to figure out who the real champions are. If we allow the sanctioning bodies to have their way, their version of reality only detracts from the clarity of actual reality. What we all need to do is recognize who the obvious champion is. Then the rest of the so-called titleholders can be happy with simply being the best-of-the rest. Let’s look at the divisions one by one. We see that the real “champ” is easy to identify in the vast majority of cases.


  • Heavyweight: Wladimir Klitschko
  • Cruiserweight: Yoan Hernandez, maybe Marco Huck has a decent claim
  • Light Heavyweight: Adonis Stevenson
  • Super Middleweight: Andre Ward
  • Middleweight: Sergio Martinez
  • Junior Middleweight: Floyd Mayweather
  • Welterweight: Timothy Bradley or Mayweather if he returns to 147, which he might.
  • Junior Welterweight: Danny Garcia
  • Lightweight: Open
  • Junior Lightweight: Mikey Garcia, though other titleholders have a decent claim, as well
  • Featherweight: Open
  • Junior Featherweight: Guillermo Rigondeaux
  • Bantamweight: Shinsuke Yamanaka/Anselmo Moreno
  • Junior Bantamweight: Omar Narvaez
  • Flyweight: Juan Francisco Estrada
  • Junior Flyweight: Roman Gonzalez
  • Strawweight: Hekkie Budler


The picture isn’t as foggy as the sanctioning bodies make it seem. The reality is that people can readily identify “the guy” in every division without the sanctioning body’s help. On one hand, it’s nice that they give multiple fighters within the same weight class to earn the money a “world title fight” demands. No one is trying to deny fighters bigger money or accolades. It’s just that the term “world champion” has been cheapened to such a grandiose extent that it’s barely recognizable from it’s former glory when being a world champion was a truly gigantic achievement.

The sanctioning bodies have been successful in simply wearing out everybody to the point where a lot of us have lost our zest for combatting this madness. But now they’re making jerks out of us. Twice in recent months, the WBA has staged multiple title fights within the same division on the same day. We see in light of Vitali Klitschko’s vacating the title, Bermane Stiverne, winner of two elimination bouts, must face Chris Arreola again to win the vacant WBC title. Somehow, Arreola was still number-two, even after losing handily to Stiverne in another “elimination” just months ago.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’d be here all day bringing all their misdeeds to light. The takeaway is that there are really no more parameters. Even in the 80’s, as all this madness was being created, the sanctioning bodies showed more discretion. Now, it’s like they know everyone is so sick of talking about it, that they can just sneak total unadulterated BS past us and no one will say anything.

It’s enough already. There’s an invisible line in the sand and they’ve sailed so far past it that they truly deserve to be disregarded on a grand scale. Those who represent and cover the sport need to help the more-casual fans have a greater understanding. That means not referring to both Andre Ward and Sakio Bika as the “Super Middleweight Champions,” but spelling out how Ward is the real champion and Bika’s claims are loose at best. That means when Jim Lampley is talking about Guillermo Rigondeaux and Leo Santa Cruz, he doesn’t refer to them both as champions at 122 pounds, without clarifying that Rigondeaux is really the champion.

[Editor’s Note: ProBoxing-Fans.com has been striving to call such dubious champions, particularly within the multi-tiered WBA system, “fake” champions].

Otherwise, we’re arriving to a point where the word “champion” means very little. We’ve long passed this point, but the term “champion” is important in an individual sport like boxing. The term itself implies there is only one. While those days are long gone, that doesn’t mean it’s OK for the sanctioning bodies to pull crap like this.

We were all almost OK with there being 3-4 champions in each division. But organizations like the WBA now want to have 3 champions reigning in the same weight class? They can go you-know-what. At this point, a de-facto/consensus/common-sense approach in identifying the champions is the best course of action and should be embraced by all those who talk about the sport.