Friday, April 21, 2006

The IBF: What will they do next?

By JE Grant

Several months back, readers will vividly remember, a welterweight champion named Zab Judah was soundly defeated in 12 rounds by a journeyman fighter Carlos Baldomir.

That fight, ostensibly for the welterweight championship – one of the few undisputed kind – should have settled the issue as to who was champion.

Enter the IBF. Baldomir, apparently unwilling to pay a gusher of money for the honor of being called “champion” by an organization that has run up a string of bizarre decisions in its relatively short history, was not awarded a belt by the IBF.

That night, for the first time in boxing history, a champion was defeated in the ring, yet left as champion. Because Baldomir failed to pay the IBF’s fee, Judah was allowed to keep his belt and his title.

Given the fact that there is little honor in professional sports today, Judah kept his phony trinket and entered the ring against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in “defense” of a title he actually lost against Baldomir. He displayed no shame.

Mayweather, for his part, cannot be held accountable for the lunacy that allowed the bout to be called a championship. He has proven himself willing to throw away meaningless trinkets in pursuit of matches with top fighters.

Believe it or not, had he not tossed his WBC super-lightweight belt before the Judah fight, he would have been required to pay a fee to the WBC for fighting for the IBF welterweight title. (Obviously greed is not confined to any particular sanctioning body).

Now we see in the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the IBF is ordering a Mayweather-Judah rematch. Really? In a bout in which Judah was pounded and thoroughly thrashed by the talented Mayweather, and engaged in flagrant fouls when it became obvious he was headed toward a stoppage defeat, the IBF somehow thinks a rematch is in order. Please mighty IBF leaders, say it isn't so.

Let’s be clear. Zab Judah, now an unmistakable loser in his last two fights, is to get a mandatory “world” title shot against the fighter who dominated him?

There could be no clearer signal that things have gone absolutely haywire in the IBF should this apparent decision stand.

If the potential answer weren’t so scary, one might ask the IBF president Marian Muhammad, what will you do if Mayweather refuses to go along with this edict? Will you give Judah the title back? We can say with certainty that no fighter in history has lost two title fights in a row in the same division has ever retained a title claim.

Is the IBF willing to make such a dubious historical precedent?

Floyd Mayweather stated a few years back that he does not need title belts to prove his greatness, and he is right. Despite his IBF trinket, he knows that only Carlos Baldomir is the welterweight champion – even though he would be a prohibitive favorite to punch Baldomir into next week should they meet.

Mayweather may very well throw the meaningless hunk of metal into his garage and go on to fights against opponents who are not on losing streaks. Ricky Hatton (who will soon fight for a meaningless trinket), Antonio Margarito (who holds a meaningless trinket), Miguel Cotto, and even Oscar De La Hoya loom in his potential future. In each case, title belts are of secondary value.

Championships as defined by the sanctioning bodies are now officially irrelevant. Perhaps we should cheer the actions of the IBF (and the other sanctioning bodies) of late for the brazenly foolish decisions of organization leaders who are not accountable to anyone and want to flaunt it.

One major state boxing commission (i.e. Nevada, New Jersey, Connecticut) can change all of that by refusing to sanction matches from so-called “world” sanctioning bodies that do not meet their standards.

Further, if a commission really wants to erase the plethora of sanctioning bodies they can use the method federal agents use when going after organized crime figures – stop their flow of money.

Step one: Put a cap on the amount of money they can siphon away from fighters and promoters for championship fees. I encourage every reader of this article to visit the websites of each of the organizations’ that post their rules and examine their fee schedule. You will become sick to your stomach upon seeing the gouging efforts of the organizations.

Step two: Refuse to sanction “interim” and regional titles. The organizations live and breath on their ability to create new ways to generate sanctioning fees. So-called “interim” titles and the growing list of regional championships are all methods of grabbing money. States could replace such titles by recognizing state champions and accept reasonable and very modestly priced fees for trinket belts associated with such titles.

As it is, fighters feel compelled to pay what amounts to ransom for the right to be a champion. Think about this: what if the NBA, NFL, MLB, or the NHL, required all players to pay a fee for the right to play in the NBA championship, the Super Bowl, the World Series, or the Stanley Cup? The fans and the players alike would laugh out loud.

Thanks IBF – for the sharp stick in the eye.


Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Oh...Excellent stuff JE.This reminds me of a couple things,one of which is I don't think (?) I got back to you on that one you wrote at the end of March.

I have to split for a few,but I'll make a point to get back here.

2:00 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

I look forward to your comments.

7:29 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Toney said...

It still don't matter cause Don King's gonna get his way and he owns Zab.

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:11 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

This is a great (but disturbing) read JE.I would like to send this to a few people I know that are in Boxing,and a few good fans I know as well.You know...*scratching my head and eyebrow raised* In a strange 'backwards' cock-eyed way of looking at things,these folks may in fact be helping our cause by continuing to do thses types of things! (i.e No folks,we don't have to make them look bad.They do a fine job of that for us! LOL) But that being said,there are two major problems with that.They well continue to exist and get away with stunts like this,because of a lack of #1 Awareness #2 Action.

Incidentally JE,I don't know if you have ever caught the 'mainstream' sports personality Stephen A. Smith (He's a kind of tall slender black guy in his 30's or 40's) Anyways,he has a show on ESPN called "Quite Frankly",and to be honest--I was never really a fan of the guy at all,until recently.He is about the only 'mainstream' sports guy on planet Earth,who covers Boxing not only on a regular basis,but is at least acknowledging and addressing some critical issue's with the sport.Namely...The 'alphabet soups'.Now,you can kind of tell he's somewhere between being a casual fan and a hardcore one,but he for the most part does a fine job (he's very outspoken!) and also features quality Boxing guests.

Anyways JE,that was just kind of a sidenote,but I was impressed by the way he and his guests went after the sanctioning bodies with a bit of passion,and was generally a bit shocked to see someone (in this day and age) cover what has almost become a 'fringe sport'.And in LARGE part JE--Do to the SANCTIONING BODIES.

It's complicated,but it's also really quite simple in a sense.

I'll be back...

12:36 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

BTW-Sorry about the typos.

It's late.


12:38 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Quick question:

If I comment on one of your older articles (I wanted to comment on that WBC one from last month,and I also came across an interesting one from 2005 by accident,that is kind of in relation to this.) Anyways,would you get the comments,or would they just be sort of...'Lost'?

P.S-I'm going to have to send you a few things of mine.One little thing I happen to notice was a comment that we need to bring Boxing back to network t.v.JE--Boxing on network tv is dead.As in not coming back.Incidentally (and quite ironically!) it was right above an article on bringing back the 15-rounders.That ain't gonna ever happen either JE! (I know you know that LOL) But AMATEUR Boxing (Olympics) should be on TV,but as for Pro Boxing? Basic cable is where more of our attention should be focused.For all intents and purposes,it is the 'network tv of this generation'.Also,with all of the high-speed internet connections,"webcasts" should be explored more.There is some possible 'untapped potential' in that area down the road IMO JE.

JE...We need to "Think Outside The Box(ing)" a bit here my friend.


12:50 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

...Boy.That was a real 'quick question',huh? (LOL)


12:51 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Cruiser -- Yes if you comment on an earlier message I will get it.

10:13 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

10-4 JE.


7:36 PM  
Blogger Gary Digital Williams said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Gary Digital Williams said...

You have to wonder what is going on in the minds of the IBF.

It was recently brought to my attention that the IBF if not only having title elimination bouts to decide who is the number ONE contender, they are having elimination bouts to decide who is the number TWO contender!

The bout Kermit Cintron fought against David Estrada was for the number TWO ranking in the IBF. This means Cintron would have to fight ANOTHER title elimination bout for the number one ranking!

How stupid is that? The IBF seems to want to collect as much from sanctioning fees as they can, but their credibility is going straight down the porcelain!!

8:17 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Good lord...That WAS for a "#2 mandatory" wasn't it??? *Shakes his head*

Once again,SUPERB work JE.

1:08 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Gary -- The only problem that remains is, despite having no real credibility, promoters and fighters are continuing to pay the fees. I've never been for a national commission, but I would like to see one or more of the big state commissions step in.

6:21 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

JE-You know more about the 'technical' aspects of this issue - but I am wondering if it is a national commission or nothing perhaps.I have plenty of ideas to raise awareness on this issue...But very few ANSWERS I'm afraid...


7:49 PM  
Blogger orltroy said...

The answers are there, but it is going to take an incredible amount of cohesion and organiztion on the parts of commissions, fighters, promoter, and boxing media to break the monopoly that the alphabet bodies have on the championships. We need an boxing anti-trust act to help us out. That comment is in jest, but as Marshall Matthers would say "a lot of truth is said in jest"

1:30 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

Cruiser -- I hope it doesn't come to that. We would very likely be trading in one set of goofy sanctioning organizations for another GIANT organization that could squash the sport. The state agencies are capable of limiting the stranglehold of the sanctioning bodies. The question is, are they willing?

3:12 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

JE-You wrote a very compelling article awhile back in which you made a strong and potentially viable case AGAINST a National commision.I read it,and said to myself ("This is true,I could see that possibly happening,plausible,etc,etc.")But I mentioned shortly afterwards that the read featured no real potential alternatives.In your usual candor and honesty--you acknowledged this.That being said,I don't know how realistic a commision is in all honesty.And while the state idea is not a bad one--I'm skeptical.JE-I actually have some fairly unique,creative,and (I believe) possibly effective ideas in raising awareness of this issue (I have a bit of a marketing/advertising background)but in terms of actual actions/solutions - my 'teapot' is pretty empty JE.Step 1 is pretty clear for me,but step 2...I am pretty much at a loss.Not a very comfortable feeling for yours truly...

10:00 PM  

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