A Sure Remedy for Boxing's Ills...IMHO
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Ocala, FL (Sports Network) -
It's another big fight week. Which means different things to different people.
Especially we writer types.
Some count down to opening bells by waxing nostalgic on past events. Some immerse in head-to-head matchups seeking evidence of one man's superiority. And others simply spend time gorging on hospitality food and drink buffets.
Not a bad selection in the bunch...if you ask me.
But I come here not to praise the fistic establishment, but to bury it.
And, while simultaneously pondering replies to a Facebook friend request from someone I've neither seen in about 20 years nor liked in about 21, I'm feeling just a tad bit crusadery.
Either that or it's another mid-life crisis.
And though no one's asked my opinion in so many words, I've nonetheless chosen this week to climb on the soapbox and enlighten with my own home remedy for boxing's ills.
My personal sanctioning body, if you will.
For lack of a better idea, and because all the good ones are taken, we'll keep our name simple.
Ladies and gentlemen...I present the IMHO.
Of course, with the arrival of a supreme being of sanctioning bodies, all the others must immediately be dissolved. So with apologies to their office-bound hierarchies and corporate staffs, I bid adieu to the IBF, IBO, WBA, WBC and WBO.
Not to mention The Ring.
Sorry Oscar, you've been downsized.
Wladimir Klitschko in an IMHO heavyweight tournament?
Or if you prefer, voted off alphabet island.
Next, I hereby declare all existing championships vacant.
To all the men who'd been holding world title belts when the aforementioned ruling was handed down, thanks for your time. Your in-ring service is noted. Your worthy accomplishments are commended. Now please step back in line with everyone else.
Our new tagline: "Lineal, schmineal. We're the IMHO."
P.S. You can keep your belts if you'd like. You know, to show the grandkids someday as evidence that you were young once. Kind of like 8-track tapes. Or pay telephones.
But now...it's on to new business.
At the risk of alienating purists in the crowd - you know the type, folks who pine desperately for the days of eight weight classes and log-chopping training camps - we have an announcement.
The IMHO is a champion of technology. We endorse replay to determine whether cuts are caused by punches. We give scratch pads to judges flummoxed by carrying 1s on their scorecards. And we use computers to remove any trace of human bias from our ratings.
OK, full disclosure...the IBO beat us to that last one.
But now that it's been disbanded (see Paragraph 12), we're claiming it as our own.
Upon annexation, the immediate priority becomes filling title vacancies.
Referring to ratings as of Nov. 1 ( www.iboboxing.com/top_100_computerized_rankings.html ), the top four in each weight class will be matched up in mini single-elimination tournaments to be begun and completed by mid-2010.
Tourney winners will be awarded pristine new championship belts.
All losers will be placed back in the mix for mandatory title defenses.
Each freshly minted champion will fight at least twice per year, once against the incumbent No. 1 challenger and once more against a top 10 contender of his choosing. If a champion elects to fight three or more times in a year, other opponents can be chosen at his whim.
If you want to give an anonymous hometown kid a shot, go for it. If you want to pull the trigger on a guy 25 pounds lighter, knock yourself out. And hey, if you can win multiple titles and meet defense requirements in multiple classes...bully.
Just don't ask for special treatment. Because you won't get it.
Meanwhile, concurrent fights between contenders will be called just that: fights between contenders. Not interim title fights. Or title eliminators. Or any other trumped-up code name that actually translates to "Please remit 10 percent of your anticipated purse to the address below, in exchange for a meaningless title belt."
Diamonds may be a girl's best friend. But they've got no place in boxing.
Similar terms like super, interim, unified, undisputed, emeritus or in-recess have also been barred forever. In fact, the mere mention of such imposters - or the very mouthing of the term "catch weight" at any official IMHO gathering - is grounds for permanent media suspension.
And contrary to this weekend's jewelry-encrusted "title fight" of convenience, the IMHO's weight-class boundaries are hard, fast and non-negotiable.
If a fighter chooses to defend his title two pounds lighter than the limit, so be it. But no title match will be sanctioned that requires any fighter to come in at anything other than the established weights.
It may irk the odd promoter or two - sorry Bob - but it ought to satisfy the hardest line of a fickle scribe horde that's always quick to point out shortfalls in existing systems, all while quickly lapping what the alphabets serve like parched dogs at a soiled toilet.
You can't have it both ways, people. And in the new IMHO era, you won't.
Finally, presuming the fighters entering each mini-tourney as top seeds emerge victorious, the inaugural list of IMHO champions would look like this:
Heavyweight - Wladimir Klitschko Cruiserweight - Steve Cunningham Light Heavyweight - Chad Dawson Super Middleweight - Carl Froch Middleweight - Kelly Pavlik Super Welterweight - Paul Williams Welterweight - Floyd Mayweather Jr. Super Lightweight - Manny Pacquiao Lightweight - Juan Manuel Marquez Super Featherweight - Humberto Soto Featherweight - Chris John Super Bantamweight - Celestino Caballero Bantamweight - Hozumi Hasegawa Super Flyweight - Nonito Donaire Flyweight - Omar Narvaez Junior Flyweight - Ivan Calderon Strawweight - Oleydong Sithsamuochai
Not to speak for the masses, but we IMHO types think that's a roster to be proud of.
And as for other day-to-day issues, they'll be dealt with as they arise. In fact, I say bring 'em on and let's get started. We've got promises to keep. And title fights to sign before we sleep.
After all, folks... it ain't rocket science. It's just boxing.
And in my humble opinion at least, we couldn't do a lot worse.
NOTE: Don't miss Saturday's Las Vegas fight-night updates at twitter.com/fitzbitz and fitzbitzonfights.wordpress.com.
* * * * * * * * * *
This week's title-fight schedule:
IBO welterweight title - Stoke, United Kingdom
Lovemore N'dou (champion) vs. Matthew Hatton (No. 50 contender) N'dou (47-11-1, 31 KO): First title defense; Ex-IBF champion at 140 pounds Hatton (37-4-1, 14 KO): First title fight; Four-fight win streak since May 2008 (4-0, 1 KO)
Fitzbitz says: N'dou by decision
WBO welterweight title - Las Vegas, Nev.
Miguel Cotto (champion) vs. Manny Pacquiao (No. 1 contender) Cotto (34-1, 27 KO): Second title defense; One loss in 15 title fights (14-1, 11 KO) Pacquiao (49-3-2, 37 KO): First title fight at 147 pounds; One loss in 12 title fights (9-1-2, 8 KO)
Fitzbitz says: Pacquiao in 10
WBA super welterweight title - Las Vegas, Nev.
Daniel Santos (champion) vs. Yuri Foreman (No. 1 contender) Santos (32-3-1, 23 KO): First title defense; Two losses in 11 title fights (9-2, 5 KO) Foreman (27-0, 8 KO): First title fight; Second fight in Las Vegas (1-0, 0 KO)
Fitzbitz says: Santos by decision
Last week's picks: 3-0
Overall picks record: 142-52 (73.1 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 21-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz and read more at fitzbitzonfights.wordpress.com.