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Measure of Value: The Boxer or the Title?


PhilBoxing.com





Is it the singer or, not for, the song and the awards that go with it?

Is it the championship or title that give value to a boxer or is it the other way around?

In the earlier years when there was only one recognized world champion for each of the then eight, later nine weight divisions, generally it was the championship or title that gave value to and defined the career of a boxer.

This was the reason why fighters as Sam Langford and Charley Burley who never fought or more accurately never given the chance to fight for world titles were not as highly rated among the best fighters in history as Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson.

However, Muhammad Ali started a change in the perception--- and equation --'just as another boxing body, the WBC was starting to rival the monopoly of the WBA.

Ali then known as Cassius Clay won the heavyweight championship in 1964, not only saving the division--- and boxing--- from a rut but raising the professional fight sport to a new height unparalleled before and since.

Significantly, Ali did not mind getting stripped by the WBA for joining the Nation of Islam in 1965 and proceeded to win it back by outclassing Ernie Terrell in 1967.

When his license was taken away from him for refusing a military draft in 1967, both the WBA and the WBC withdrew their recognition of him as world heavyweight champion, he did not protest. He knew and his multitude of fans knew that he was still the uncrowned champion, the People's Champion.

He went on to regain the universal heavyweight championship in 1974, lost and won it back in 1976 and although he made a failed comeback in 1980, he retired as the Greatest Fighter in History.

Though there emerged outstanding boxers and champions after Ali who also contributed in enhancing the popularity of boxing, no one approximated Ali in proving that it was the fighter that gave prestige and value to the world championship and not the other way around.

The closest I could think of were Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson who remained popular and relevant despite their forced absence from the ring and having without a title for some time.

Leonard went world titles collecting, winning five in as many divisions from welterweight through the light heavyweight in his career but he was more known as a great fighter and for his fights with Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns at welterweight and Marvin Hagler at middleweight.

Tyson was imprisoned and stripped of his titles in 1990 and he came back as popular as ever, despite later losses to Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. A clear gauge of his enduring popularity and value as a fighter was his recent exhibition bout against Roy Jones, Jr. who could be said as another valuable fighter if not for his later career shameful losses.

It took almost three decades before another boxer in the person of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. to once again demonstrate the importance of the fighter over world titles but already at the height of the so called alphabet soup era---the proliferation of more boxing bodies which cheapened the value of so called world titles.

Though Mayweather went on world title hunting from super featherweight through the super welterweight --winning assortment of belts and trinkets along the way---he walked away, retired, still at the prime of his career in 2007. It was the year, he together with Oscar de la Hoya engaged in the richest fight in history at that point.

He came back, title-less two years after and proceeded to self promote himself in some of the highest grossing non title fights against Juan Manuel Marquez and Sugar Shane Mosley. The Mosley fight was supposedly for Shane's WBA title but he refused it.

Floyd only regained a share of the world title when he fought and defeated Victor Ortiz for his WBC welterweight crown.

He went on to fight for and won the WBC super welterweight title twice more--after winning his first in 2007 over De la Hoya prior to his first retirement---against Miguel Cotto and later Canelo Alvarez. But he vacated them as soon as he won them.

He finally fought for and won the WBA welterweight title over Robert Guerrero. He dropped it as soon, preferring to keep his WBC belt.

After defending the championship title he valued the most twice against Marcos Maidana, he finally fought WBO champion Manny Pacquiao in a unification in 2015.

After winning over Pacquiao in the richest boxing match ever, Floyd vacated the WBO belt and fought his last legitimate boxing bout versus Andre Berto in defense of his WBC crown before announcing his retirement later the same year.

In eschewing world titles he won in his comeback at welterweight and super welterweight including those of the WBC which he obviously valued more than those of the WBA, WBO and IBF, Floyd clearly sent the message that he was more valuable than those belts and trinkets and that it was he who gave value to them.

Significantly, Manny Pacquiao seems to be not far behind in the footsteps of Floyd in this regard.

Though Manny also went on six world titles in as many weight classes collecting binge starting in 2004 after winning his first at flyweight in 1998 and second at super bantamweight in 2001, he however has had his time as the uncrowned
or people's champion at featherweight between 2004-2006.

He likewise proved his value as a fighter who could add prestige and honor to world titles at welterweight as champion sought after and recognized by the WBO and later WBA even at the tailend of his career.

In fact and in truth the WBC and the WBO so value him as champion and holder of titles in some or one of their divisions that they proclaimed him their respective Fighter of the Decade.

It is for the same reason that the WBA with whom Manny has not had championship engagement in the past for most of his career took the opportunity to have him in 2018 after he had lost his WBO title to Jeff Horn the year before.

Since then, Manny has fought under the aegis of the WBA winning its regular title at welterweight over Lucas Matthysse and its super belt over Keith Thurman with a title defense against Adrien Broner in between.

The way things are, the WBA would not let go of Manny for the prestige and value he brings to the organization as its welterweight super world champion.

Unless he vacates it or loses it in the ring.

I don't think the WBA would relish the idea of Manny being an uncrowned people's champion again if it strips him of its title he won atop the ring.

That's how valuable Manny is.

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.


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