Wladimir Klitschko defeats the WBA Heavyweight Champion David Haye and you would be right in thinking that he takes the WBA Heavyweight title strap. But the WBA has other ideas. Wladimir Klitschko is now the WBA 'Super' Champion and there will be a fight for the regular WBA Heavyweight Title belt.
Confused? I don't blame you.
The Klitschko brothers are superb boxers and worthy champions in their division. But one of the biggest problems (which is killing boxing) is the amount of boxing titles available.
The four recognised major bodies are the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF. There are other minor bodies including the IBO and WBF.
Ring Magazine has its own boxing titles but more importantly offers pound-for-pound rankings which are considered by many to be definitive.
The WBA (World Boxing Association) is the oldest organisation, formed in 1963. The WBC (World Boxing Council) formed shortly afterwards in 1963. The IBF (International Boxing Federation) and WBO (World Boxing Organisation) followed in 1983 and 1988, respectively. All four bodies are recognised by the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
The problem for years has been which fighter can claim to be the legitimate world champion for their weight class.
For the public, it can be confusing to know who really is the "champ." The general public and boxing fans are turning to MMA because of the simple title structure they hold for each class. For example in UFC, Cain Velasquez is the Heavyweight Champion. Simple and easy.
Ring Magazine tried to help in 2002 by reintroducing a title that can only be won either by defeating the reigning champion or by winning a boxing match between their No. 1 and No. 2 ranked fighters. The fighter can only lose the Ring title by being defeated, moving to a different weight class or retiring. It sounds good in principle but with four other titles available, the good idea gets lost.
The biggest problem is the amount of titles one organisation can award.
The WBA has been the worst offender. As an example, the WBA Lightweight division has Juan Manuel Marquez as "Super Champion," Brandon Rios as champion and Robert Guerrero as "Interim" Champion. How many champions are needed?
It may be argued that Rios may be unable to fight Guerrero due to illness or other circumstances and this requires the awarding of an interim title until the fight can be arranged. But why bother? The WBA could simply sanction the fight without awarding a title until Rios is ready. If he fails to fight for no good reason, he should be stripped of his title.
The "Interim" system has been open to abuse for years. The most blatant example is that of WBC Flyweight Champion Pongksaklek Wonjonkam who held the title for six years. Jorge Arca was named "interim" champion during that time but the fight never materialised. Arca would defend the "interim" title four times before giving up on fighting Wonjonkam and moving up a weight class.
Are There Too Many Title Belts Avaliable?
If we are to have separate boxing organisations, the time really has come to simply matters and sort things out once and for all. With MMA quickly overtaking boxing in popularity, something has to be done in connection with the award of title belts.
It's pretty simple—one championship belt per organisation for each weight class.
But to be honest, there needs only to be one champion per weight division.