Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hill – Brudov: Do you know what a “world” title is today?

By JE Grant

Virgil Hill, 50-5 (23 KOs), 200, North Dakota, formerly a tremendous light-heavyweight world titlist, once again gained a belt said to be a “world” title by capturing a unanimous 12-round decision over previously undefeated Valery Brudov, 30-1 (23 KOs), 194, Russia, Friday night in Atlantic City.

Of course the term “world” title has to be qualified because, as anyone who has paid any attention to the world boxing scene knows, O’Neil Bell recently wrested the undisputed world championship by stopping Jean Marc Mormeck.

So, how does the 42 year-old Hill get himself recognized as a world titlist? Quite simply, the WBA declared the “regular” title vacant after Mormeck unified the WBC and WBA titles. Subsequently, Bell unified the WBC, WBA, and IBF belts to become only the undisputed champion in the weight class since Evander Holyfield.

Bell is now considered a “super” champion by the WBA. Oddly, this is only because he concurrently holds titles of the competing WBC and IBF sanctioning bodies. Why the WBA feels the need to somehow bestow special recognition on titlists from the organization’s competition cannot be adequately explained away if the word “money” is removed from the equation.

You see, when Hill next defends his “world” title, he and his promoter will pay a sanctioning fee. Of course when Bell defends his undisputed championship he will also pay a sanctioning fee. How nifty – and profitable.

This is not a knock on the person of Virgil Hill. He was a marvelous champion who succeeded in defending his light heavyweight title 20 times and he was an Olympic silver medal winner. His hall of fame selection is a sure bet.

No, this is one fan’s gripe against a system that conjures up a title allowing a fighter whose best days are far behind him to prolong his career and potentially gain him a bout against the brutal punching Bell – not something that is in his best interest (just consider that in his last two WBA cruiserweight title bouts he was soundly defeated by Mormeck).

One only can wonder what will happen if someday Bell is stripped of his belts by the IBF and WBC. Will he still be a “super” champion? Will the “regular” champion be the real titleholder by default?

Boxing promoters have enough problems trying to explain to networks and general public why there is a need for three sanctioning bodies. Now they will have to tell potential viewing audiences that the undisputed champion of the world, O’Neil Bell, is the “champion” of all three sanctioning bodies --- but Virgil Hill is also the “world” champion of the WBA.

Boxing is thriving in Europe and many of the most popular titlists regularly avoid potentially dangerous opponents. But, American sports fans want clearly defined champions without the muddle this predicament causes. It is probably only a matter of time before the other sanctioning bodies employ some of the same money-generating tactics.

You decide what effect it is having on the sport. The next time you are flipping through the network channels, ABC, NBC, CBS, or Fox (National), and see a world title fight, give me a call.


Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Oh,just super.Err..I mean 'regular'.Okay,I mean WHAT-THE-F*ck is this (boxing) world coming to,and what 'world' do these people operate in???

10:59 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Je-This article was spot-on.Do you want to know what was 'unfortunate' here? Two things; the very core of what you touched upon,and Hill's relatively impressive accomplishment (At 42 or 43!) and distinguished career.But you did a fine job of addressing both.

12:05 AM  

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