Miserable WBA Offer Leads to New Sanctions Crusade

So a man named Trevor Bryan is fighting a man named Jonathan Guidry this weekend.

They call it – or at least some call it – a heavyweight title fight.

If that alone doesn’t turn your stomach, then go ahead and stop reading now.

For those still around, let’s take a look at some numbers.

Bryan is a 32-year-old New Yorker with a respectable record of 21-0, although that mark loses a bit of luster when you see that he won his “title” over a version of Bermane Stiverne who hadn’t won a fight in 62 months and was stopped twice – in a total of seven rounds – in his two most recent outings.

Guidry, meanwhile, is a 32-year-old Cajun with a compelling backstory and exactly nothing else that warrants inclusion near a high-profile match. He has never had a fight that lasted more than eight rounds and has beaten a dubious collection of never-before-seen with a career win rate of 46.1.

Still, he is there in the WBA rankings, one spot ahead of former WBO champion Joseph Parker.

Even for the perpetually corrupt Panamanian boxing cartel it is terrible.

And as for anyone who disagrees, well… you’re a big part of the problem.

So, ready or not, I’m feeling a little crusade-esque.

That or it’s another midlife crisis.

And while no one has asked my opinion in so many words, I chose to climb on the soapbox this week and bring relief with my own home remedy for the ills of boxing.

My personal sanctioning body, if you will.

For lack of a better idea, and because all the good ones have been taken, we keep our name simple.

Ladies and gentlemen… I present the IMHO.

With the advent of a supreme sanctioning body, of course, all others must be dissolved. So with apologies to office hierarchies and corporate staff, I say goodbye to the IBF, IBO, WBA, WBC, and WBO.

Not to mention The Ring.

Sorry Oscar, I hope we can still be friends.

First order of business, we declare all existing championships vacant.

To everyone who held title belts as the verdict was made, thank you for your time.

Your service is noticed and achievements are praised. Now please get back in line.

Our new slogan: “Lineal, schmineal. We are the IMHO.”

PS – You can keep your belts if you want. You know, to show the grandchildren someday as proof that you were once young. Kind of like 8 track tapes. Or pay phones.

But now… it’s time for something new.

At the risk of alienating the purists in the crowd — you know the type, people pining for eight weight classes and woodcutting training camps — we’ve got an announcement.

The IMHO is a champion of technology. We will use replay to see when cuts and knockdowns are caused by punches. We will provide notepads to judges confused by wearing ones on their scorecards. And we will use computers to remove any trace of human bias from our assessments.

Filling title vacancies is of course our first priority.

Using independent world boxing rankings, the top four in each weight class will be compared in mini-tournaments starting and ending around this time next year.

Tournament winners get immaculate new championship belts.

Losers are placed in the mix for mandatory title defense.

Each new champion will fight at least twice a year, once against the incumbent No. 1 challenger and again against a top 10 contender of his choice. If a champion chooses to fight three or more times a year, other opponents can be chosen at their discretion.

Do you want to give an anonymous child from the birthplace a chance? Go for it. Want to pull the trigger on a guy who’s 25 pounds lighter? Knock yourself out. And if you can win multiple titles and meet the defense requirements in multiple classes, bravo.

Just don’t ask for special treatment. Because you don’t get it.

Meanwhile, fights between contenders will be called, well, fights between contenders.

No interim title fights. Or title eliminators. Or another made-up version that loosely translates to “Please transfer 10 percent of your expected wallet to the address below, in exchange for a meaningless title belt.”

Terms like super, interim, unified, undisputed, emeritus, or in-recess are also forever excluded.

In fact, the mere mention of such impostors – or uttering the term “catch weight” at an official IMHO meeting – is grounds for permanent media suspension.

The IMHO weight class limits are hard, fast and non-negotiable.

If a fighter chooses to defend his title two pounds lighter than the limit, so be it. But no title match will be sanctioned where a fighter has to get on anything other than the established weights.

It might annoy a few promoters, but it should satisfy fickle writers who are quick to point out flaws in existing systems, while swiftly lapping through the alphabets like parched dogs in a dirty toilet.

You can’t have it both ways. And in the IMHO era you won’t.

Assuming the top two leaguers advance in each weight class tournament, the inaugural list of IMHO championships would look like this:

Heavyweight – Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk

Cruiserweight – Mairis Briedis vs. member Makabu

Light Heavyweight – Artur Beterbiev vs. Gilberto Ramirez

Super Middleweight – Canelo Alvarez vs. David Benavidez

Middleweight – Gennady Golovkin vs. Jermall Charlo

Junior Middleweight – Jermell Charlo vs. Brian Castano

Welterweight – Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford

Junior Welterweight – Josh Taylor vs. Regis Program

Lightweight – George Kambosos vs. Vasyl Lomachenko

Junior Lightweight – Oscar Valdez vs. Shavrat Rakhimov

Featherweight – Emmanuel Navarrete vs. Mauricio Lara

Junior Featherweight – Stephen Fulton vs. Brandon Figueroa

Bantamweight – Naoya Inoue vs. John Riel Casimero

Junior Bantamweight – Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Kazuto Ioka

Flyweight – Julio Cesar Martinez vs. together Nakatani

Junior Flyweight – Hiroto Kyoguchi vs. Masamichi Yabuki

Strawweight – Thammanoon Niyomtrong vs. Panya Pradabsric

Not to speak for the masses, but we IMHO types think that’s a schedule to be proud of.

And as for other day-to-day problems, they will be solved as soon as they arise.

It’s not rocket science. It’s just boxing.

And in my humble opinion, we couldn’t do much worse.

* * * * * * * * * *

This week’s title fight schedule:

SATURDAY

WBC Cruiserweight Title – Warren, Ohio

Ilunga Makabu (Champion / No. 2 IWBR) vs. Thabiso Mchunu (No. 1 WBC / No. 6 IWBR)

Makabu (28-2, 25 KO): Second title defense; Twelfth scheduled fight of 12 rounds (10-1, 7 KO)

Mchunu (23-5, 13 KO): Second title fight (0-1); Lost by 11th round KO against Makabu in 2015

Fitzbitz says: Welcome to the Canelo Derby. The incumbent is scheduled for a PPV payout, but has a hurdle here. Mchunu led then stopped in their first fight. Upset. Mchunu by decision (60/40)

Last week’s picks: 0-1 (LOSS: Russell Jr.)

2022 singles record: 1-1 (50 percent)

Overall choice record: 1,210-393 (75.4 percent)

NOTE: Previewed fights are only those involving the full title holder of a sanctioning body – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA “world championships” are only included if no “super champion” exists in the weight class.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has written about professional boxing since 1995 and has been a weekly columnist for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.

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