One Title, One King: The Current State of Boxing's World Championship System

Joe PASContributor IJuly 27, 2011

Hopkins, Current WBC World Champ
Hopkins, Current WBC World ChampAl Bello/Getty Images

Boxing is a funny old sport. It's the most physically demanding sport in which any man can participate. It has separated men from boys. It's been a savior for hundreds of troubled fighters. It's been a financial success for some extremely talented men. It's had highs and lows but it's been, time after time, an admirable spectacle for millions.

But with all its glories, as with any sport, boxing is not without its faults. In and out of the ring.

One fault that I would like to address with this article is the term "world champion." Boxing has had some truly marvelous characters earn the title of world champion over the years.

From the pound for pound great in Sugar Ray Robinson all the way up to the inspirational Muhammad Ali and every man in between, many of these fighters came from nothing and were essentially seen as gods—Duran, Chavez and Tyson, to name just a few.

The fighters that were in it for the money like Chris Eubank and self-proclaimed "Cash Cow," Floyd Mayweather, to the damn right outrageous Prince Nassem—these are all so-called "kings" of boxing. Recently, I feel that this word is thrown around too easily.

You see, when a fighter is crowned world champion, he is often referred to by commentators, pundits and fans alike as the "king of the division." There are many flaws with this theory.

Currently, there are four boxing bodies that have world championship belts: the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF. That's not even counting "The Ring" World Championship.

So that means that now there is the possibility of having four "kings" of one weight division. Let alone when you take into consideration that now the WBA are now labeling fighters as the "Super" and "Interim" Champions.

This, in my opinion, is absolutely ridiculous. This means currently there are over 70 world champions in 16 different weight classes. Perhaps one world champion for every weight class would be enough?

I sympathize with arguments against that statement, such as boxers' schedules, the need for time to recover after a hard fight, management disputes and the back log of opponents he'd have to fight.

But after all, isn't that what being a world champion is all about? Putting your heart and soul into your profession and proving again and again that you are the best there is to offer?

Beibut Shumenov, ever heard of him? Well, I'll enlighten you.

He's the current WBA Champion in the light heavyweight division. Hailing from Kazakhstan, he's currently promoting a record of 11 wins and one loss with seven knockouts.

Now without trying to single out Shumenov, as talented as he may be, I really can't see how he can have the title of world champion.

With 12 fights, he's inexperienced and only one of his opponents has not had a loss in his last three fights. To me, that doesn't warrant the "king of the division" status.

This is a division in which Bernard Hopkins is marking his legacy as the oldest world champion and the up-and-coming British Nathan Cleverly is trying to make a name for himself. I would even put money on BHop or Nathan not actually knowing who this "world champion" is.

Now if there were just one world champion for each weight division, not only would we clearly know who's the best, but we wouldn't have so much of this bureaucracy between promoters and fighters which is seriously hurting the sport we love.

At the end of the day this would give the fans what we want most. The top fighters, our favorite fighters, going at it in the ring and proving to us who the real "kings" are.