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Major bodies push limits with title challengers
Lyle Fitzsimmons


By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor


OK, folks... I'm searching for some common ground here.

As a means of initiating another discussion about what's wrong with sanctioning bodies and how best to get it fixed, I figure we've got to at least have some agreed-upon foundations upon which to construct points.

So if it pleases the masses, I'll go with computer rankings.

Admittedly, though, it's not everyone's perfect fix.

And believe me, I've heard all the negatives from the logarithm jockeys out there.

But given the obvious lack of bias that may or may not influence lists not relying on soulless machines, I'll take my chances.

Which brings me to today's simple statistical analysis.

Using the IBO's Top 100 as a best-available resource, I glanced back at the distribution of fairness when it comes to the fighters vying for championship status in the other four "major" organizations -- namely the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO.

Going month by month through the first 5/12ths of 2010, I observed the digitally unbiased placements of challengers for titles recognized by those four -- including the ever-dubious interim and super classifications -- to come up with an average to show which group's batch of contenders is most legitimate.

Coming next week... Part Two, feedback and analysis.

In the mean time, just the facts.

We'll start with our pals from lovely East Orange, New Jersey -- the IBF.

Eleven non-unifying title fights from January 1 through May 31 -- resulting in six champions successfully holding onto belts, four challengers winning crowns and one filled vacancy.

And according to the computer rankings at the beginnings of each month that had a scheduled bout, the numbers for challengers go a little something like this:

MAY -- Orlando Salido (No. 6, 126 pounds), Abner Mares (11, 118), Luis Lazarte (9, 112)

APRIL -- Malik Bouziane (24, 118), Rodolfo Martinez (*unranked, 147), Edison Miranda (14, 168)

MARCH -- Eddie Chambers (3, heavyweight), Nkosinathi Joyi (2, 105), Steve Molitor (5, 126), Takalani Ndlovu (12, 126)

JANUARY -- Carlos Tamara (20, 108), Billy Lyell (25, 160)

* - Martinez unranked by computer at 140, 147 or 154, averaged in here as No. 101

Best IBF challenger ranking = 2 Worst IBF challenger ranking = 101 Average IBF challenger ranking = 19.3 Non-Top 15 fighters in title fights = 4 of 12 (33.3 percent)

Next up, it's Panama's esteemed entry into the fray -- the WBA.

Twenty-one title fights from January 1 through May 31 -- resulting in eight world champions successfully holding on, five challengers winning titles and eight bogus matches labeled as super, regular or interim.

And the envelopes, please:

MAY -- Miguel Acosta (19, 135) Souleymane M'baye (28, 140), Antonin Decarie (47, 147), Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (1, 122), Shoji Kimura (13, 122), Angel Granados (76, 130), Paul Malignaggi (1, 140), Jorge Solis (10, 130), Mario Santiago (10, 126), Hugo Cazares (2, 115)

APRIL -- Luis Concepcion (8. 112), Eric Ortiz (11, 115), John Ruiz (10, heavyweight)

MARCH -- Rodrigo Guerrero (13, 115), Jonathan Barros (24, 130), Marcos Maidana (14, 140), Victor Cayo (11, 140), Nehomar Cermeno (1, 118)

FEBRUARY -- Walter Tello (17, 105), Daiki Kameda (8, 112), Jorge Solis (11, 126), Likar Ramos (12, 130)

JANUARY -- Ivan Meneses (58, 105), Beibut Shumenov (12, 175), Rogers Mtagwa (20, 122), Takashi Uchiyama (12, 130), Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (1, 122), Satoshi Hosono (9, 122)

Best WBA challenger ranking = 1 Worst WBA challenger ranking = 76 Average WBA challenger ranking = 16.3 Non-Top 15 fighters in title fights = 8 of 28 (28.5 percent)

Batting third, according to the alphabet, Mexico's own -- the WBC.

Fourteen green belt title fights from January 1 through May 31 -- resulting in eight world champions successfully holding on, two challengers winning titles and four fights for vacant crowns.

The figures:

MAY -- Albert Sosnowski (30, heavyweight), Vitali Tajbert (13, 130), Hector Velazquez (44, 135), Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (2, 200), Giacobbe Fragomeni (5, 200), Ricardo Dominguez (24, 135)

APRIL -- Balweg Bangoyan (41, 122), Mikkel Kessler (4, 168), Sebastian Zbik (20, 160), Domenico Spada (49, 160), Carlos Quintana (4, 154)

MARCH -- Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (1, 112), Yasutaka Kuroki (1, 105), David Diaz (7, 135), Rodrigo Guerrero (13, 115)

FEBRUARY -- Omar Nino Romero (3, 108), Guty Espadas Jr (46, 126), Antonio DeMarco (8, 135)

Best WBC challenger ranking = 1 Worst WBC challenger ranking = 49 Average WBC challenger ranking = 17.5 Non-Top 15 fighters in title fights = 7 of 18 (38.8 percent)

And now, the Puerto Rican dog in the fight -- the WBO.

Eighteen title fights from January 1 through May 31 -- resulting in 10 world champions defending their territory, one challenger becoming a champion and seven other fights in which either an incumbent moved up to face another or a vacant or interim belt was at stake.

MAY -- Gonzalo Munguia (43, 130), Zsolt Bedak (23, 122), Everth Briceno (28, 115), Michael Katsidis (4, 135), Kevin Mitchell (6, 135), Daniel Dawson (*unranked, 154), Brian Minto (18, 200)

APRIL -- Alfredo Angulo (6, 154), Joel Julio (12, 154), Mariano Nicolas Plotinsky (14, 175), Eduard Gutknecht (8, 168), Eddie Chambers (3, heavyweight)

MARCH -- Adam Richards (38, 200), Joshua Clottey (3, 147)

FEBRUARY -- Wilfredo Vazquez Jr (19, 122), Marvin Sonsona (4, 115), Ciso Morales (53, 122), Eric Morel (12, 118), Gerry Penalosa (8, 122)

JANUARY -- Jorge Arce (2, 115), Angky Angkota (19, 112), Juan Manuel Lopez (4, 126), Ruben Eduardo Acosta (24, 168)

* - Dawson unranked by computer at 147, 154 or 160, averaged in here as No. 101

Best WBO challenger ranking = 2 Worst WBO challenger ranking = 101 Average WBO challenger ranking = 19.6 Non-Top 15 fighters in title fights = 10 of 23 (43.4 percent)

Lastly, for comparison purposes only -- the IBO.

Of the Florida-based organization's half-dozen title contests in 2010, four have been for vacant belts and two more in which incumbent champions successfully defended.

According to IBO rules, champions are required to defend against fighters in the top 35 of their weight class. Vacancies are filled by the top "available" contenders.

MAY -- Peter Manfredo Jr (9, 160), Angel Hernandez (37, 160), Eric Barcelona (29, 118)

APRIL -- Manny Siaca (34, 175)

MARCH -- Eddie Chambers (3, heavyweight), Leonardo Zappavigna (34, 135), Fernando Angulo (47, 135)

FEBRUARY -- Hekkie Budler (55, 108), Juanito Rubillar (20, 108)

Best IBO challenger ranking = 3 Worst IBO challenger ranking = 55 Average IBO challenger ranking = 29.7 Non-Top 35 fighters in title fights = 3 of 9 (33.3 percent)

This week's title-fight schedule:

None.

Last week's picks: 3-2 Overall picks record: 207-72 (74.1 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 fitzbitz@msn.com, follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz and read more at fitzbitzonfights.wordpress.com..

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.

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