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WBO GLOBAL BELT: NOT JUST ANOTHER TRINKET


PhilBoxing.com



Danny Leigh.
TOKYO – Day One, Tuesday, Dec. 3, of the ongoing 32nd WBO Convention at the Tokyo Dome Hotel here was for members of the Executive Committee routinely doing reports for their respective territories. Australian Danny Leigh's turn came where he reported the performance the newly created WBO Global Belt for which he was in-charge.

After Leigh finished talking, WBO's indefatigable Executve Director Diana Melendez stood up and asked Marina Sheppard of Boxrec who was in attendance: “Why was the WBO Global Belt not included in Boxrec?”

Diana's question encapsulated the nagging issue, bias, prejudice and suspicion about the world boxing bodies creating so many belts and titles just in to make business [meaning – to generate sanction fees] out of boxing events. No doubt not a few boxing fans and even boxing experts are confused about the boxing world titles proliferating around like 'Super', 'Regular', 'Interim', 'Silver', 'Diamond' and so on. Now we have a new addition in the 'Global' which the WBO recently started.

On Dec. 16, 2018, the WBO tweeted,




Sebastian Formella became the first WBO Global Champion on Dec. 15, 2018. The bout between Formella and his opponent Bethel Ushuna was recorded in Boxrec.com, which claims to be “Boxing's Official Record Keeper”, but nothing was mentioned about Formella winning the WBO Global Belt. And so with most of the following 25 other WBO Global championships that happened in the succeeding months.

It appears that John and Marina Sheppard, owners of Boxrec, had decided upon themselves not to recognize the WBO Global Belt as legitimate. Critics of belt trinkets may agree with the Sheppards for doing a good job but others say that they should only record events as they happened and not filter them.

So what is actually the WBO Global Belt?

“People thought that the WBO Global Belt is another world title. No it is not. It is a regional title,” explained Jack Daniel 'Danny' Leigh, the brainchild of the newly created belt. “It's is just like the International or Inter-Continental of Asia-Pacific titles. It was created specifically for competitors from Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the eastern European countries.”

Philboxing was in Panama in 2018 during the WBO executive committee deliberations to approve the name of the new belt which was originally conceived as the 'WBO Oceania Belt' but later the committee decided on 'WBO Global'.

Leigh said, as with the other regional belts, WBO Global champions will be automatically ranked in the WBO world rankings in their respective weights which is the main come-on to aspire for the belt as it becomes a ladder for a world title fight.

“From the WBO standpoint we're going to filter out who is actually going to challenge for the world title. That is the purpose of these regional belts,” Leigh said. “What I'd like to do is to have my Global champion fight another regional champion like the Asia-Pacific champion or other regional champions. In this way we eventually end up only the best fighting the best for the world title.”


Joet Gonzalez wins the WBO Featherweight Global belt by defeating Manuel Avila on July 13, 2019 in California.

Leigh said the response from the promoters was tremendous. “We are working with all the big promoters like Frank Warren, Golden Boy and Top Rank to have their boxers in the region fight for the belts.” Leigh also sees great potential for boxers in Russia and the eastern block countries as well as Australia and New Zealand aiming first for the Global belt before finally going after the WBO world title.

With 26 sanctioned fights during its maiden year and a projected revenue of around $100,000, the WBO Global is here to stay and stay big.

We will give the final word to David Finger of Fightnews: “Leigh and the WBO Global have emerged as boxing's version of [Kansas City Chiefs star] Patrick Mahomes. One day everyone woke up and noticed that there was a new powerhouse in the sport that seemed to come out of nowhere.”


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Dong Secuya.


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