"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
~Mike Tyson

Monday, October 9, 2017

Super Heavy And Super Sloppy - A Boxing Rant

Photo: d13csqd2kn0ewr.cloudfront.net
On October 6th it was reported that the World Boxing Council is seriously exploring the idea of creating a new weight class, that being a Super Heavyweight division. The idea isn't exactly a new one as sanctioning bodies have considered doing so a number of times in the past. At first glance the idea may seem like a good one but when you take a critical look at things you'll find it's much more complicated than simply throwing a new division out there. Heavyweight boxers have continually grown larger over the years and many pundits argue that a fight between a boxer who weights 210 lbs and another whom weighs 260 lbs simply isn't fair. There's also persons whom argue that such weight disparities pose serious risks to smaller fighters. Every division in boxing, save for the heavyweight division, has a weight limit so why are there no limits placed on the big men or the giants of the sport?

Photo: http://ringsidereport.com
Splitting the glamour division of boxing into 2 separate weight classes carries with it some serious repercussions for the sport,  those who follow/support it, and of course the fighters affected by this split. First off doing so presents a somewhat slippery slope setting a precedent for further weight class splits. Will there be a limit to the Super Heavyweight division and if not...why split the Heavyweight division into two at all? Seems like an exercise in redundancy does it not? If the Super Heavyweight division does receive a weight limit what is that limit and why not split that division into two as well? Would boxing not need an Ultra or Supreme Heavyweight division to ensure fair fights and keep serious injury or deaths to a minimum?

Setting aside the problem of ad infinitum for now, let's talk about boxing's original 8 weight classes for a moment. These were as follows:

  • Flyweight: 112 lbs 
  • Bantamweight: 118 
  • Featherweight: 126 
  • Lightweight: 135
  • Welterweight: 147
  • Middleweight: 160
  • Light Heavyweight: 175 
  • Heavyweight: 201 (no limit)
Photo:
http://ghosttown-boxing.2299399.n4.nabble.com
In the era where only these 8 weight classes existed fighters would use catch-weights not as shields or as means to avoid a fighter but rather in order to allow boxers of different weight classes to face one another. As the latter half of the 20th century rolled on the Jr.'s and Supers of each division were added until there were the 17 weight classes the sport has today. There are a great number of people who bemoan the large number of weight classes in the sport and aren't exactly excited about another seemingly inessential division.

Those who periodically call for a return to the sports orginal 8 weight classes shouldn't hold their breath. Don't let the phrase "Non-profit Institution" fool you into thinking that the sanctioning bodies don't love money. More weight classes means more champions, more champions means more titles, more titles means more belts, and more belts mean more sanctioning fees. You would also do well to remember that there isn't just one champion per sanctioning body anymore either. There are:

  • Regular Champions
  • Super Champions
  • Champions Emeritus
  • Interim Champions
  • Champions In Recess
  • Silver Champions
  • Diamond Champions
  • Eternal Champions
  • Super Hyper Regular Diamond Champions In Recess
Photo: fightsaga.com
Ok, so I had a little fun with that last one but I did so to illustrate a point. That point being that it's difficult, even with the internet, for the sports hard core fans to keep track of which fighters hold which titles in which divisions. Imagine how confusing it must be for casual observers to try and make sense of it all. Creating a Super Heavyweight division adds to an already confusing and overcrowded championship landscape and in the process moves the spotlight off the most famous division in boxing's storied history. Quick side note...many of today's Heavyweight fighters are fat Cruiserweights. Does a Super Heavyweight division give these fighters an even bigger excuse to remain overweight, under-trained, and undisciplined? Would some of the super heavyweights not be fat heavyweights dealing with the same issues?

Will It Happen?

WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman has stated that it will be a minimum of 6 months before his organization makes a decision either way and even if the WBC decides to move forward with the split it won't happen overnight. If yours truly were a betting man I'd bet that it does finally happen however. Perhaps the time has come for a Super Heavyweight division. More importantly, perhaps the WBC has found a way to make this split financially viable. Time will tell.

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split D Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com. You can also support Split D Boxing on Patreon!

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