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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: SANCTIONING BODIES, ARRGH!!!

By Paul Magno | November 13, 2023
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: SANCTIONING BODIES, ARRGH!!!

I always get a good belly laugh when I see media dorks “going to war” with the sanctioning bodies. 

Snapping at the “alphabets” is grasping at the low-hanging fruit of boxing outrage. It’s like angry, frustrated cops harassing hookers. Easy targets. You can let loose for a bit and nobody really cares all that much about things like perspective or whether your catharsis was appropriate or not.

In the boxing world, whenever a media guy wants some street cred, he jumps at the chance to slam the sanctioning bodies. This cheap heat is also easy heat and, best of all for our very lazy/inept boxing media, it’s a way to sound hard without taking any risks of repercussions. 

The IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO aren’t going to cut off funding to your site, cut off access to fighters, or ban you from ringside. Actually, one could make an argument that the sanctioning bodies exist, precisely to be that buffer between the fans/media and those in the business who are REALLY calling the shots. The “alphabets,” whether intentionally or not (I say intentionally), are propped up as a buffer of protection, to take all the heat for shitty things that happen while those really running the sport keep doing whatever the hell they feel like doing. 

It’s not that boxing’s sanctioning bodies don’t deserve scorn and frequent virtual curb stompings. They do. The problem is that the boxing media’s shots are purely for show. And, to be honest, their shots really aren’t meant to have any weight behind them. 

How do I know this? I mean, for fuck’s sake, look. 

Just last week we had a couple of cases of farming for fake outrage, beginning with WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo’s statements during a virtual press conference with him and Jose Benavidez Jr. to hype their fight on the November 25 David Benavidez-Demetrius Andrade PPV undercard. 

Charlo, who’s been widely panned for not defending his WBC middleweight title in close to 2-and-a-half years (and won’t be defending it in this 163 lb. catchweight bout with Benavidez either), referred to a belt as “nothing but a trophy.” He also told a reporter who pressed him on “hoarding” the WBC title, “Ya’ll want it, you can have it. You can come get it tomorrow.” 

These were throwaway comments made in the heat of some pretty fierce exchanges between him and Benavidez, but in the world of a content and click-starved media, they were headline fodder. Especially titillating to media dolts was the juxtaposition of Charlo’s words against the brewed discontent fans feel with the fighter’s inactivity and the WBC’s unwillingness to strip him. That’s a fucking goldmine for clicks. And, for media looking to safely grandstand and virtue signal, it was SHOWTIME. 

One Tweet from a particularly pompous media content farmer showcasing Charlo’s comment caught the eye of pompous WBC head Mauricio Sulaiman, who, predictably, responded with his own fake outrage. 

What ensued was a back and forth where Sulaiman claimed the quotes were taken out of context and the reporter in question played martyr in the battle for the soul of boxing. 

It just so happened that, in this one instance, Sulaiman was actually more right than the guy tilling for headlines. Charlo’s words were not a defiant and ungrateful “fuck you” to the organization running interference for him. They were, indeed, just throwaway remarks made in the heat of an argument. 

Later that same week, the media got to take a second clutch at their pearls when the IBF officially elevated interim welterweight titlist Jaron “Boots” Ennis to full champ status, stripping their belt from unified 147 lb. champ Terence Crawford. 

We can argue about that decision and the fairness of it. When you look at it, though, it falls squarely in line with what the media (and fans) usually cry about when it comes to champions who don’t defend their titles against their top contenders. Crawford has no IBF defense lined up and he has also bluntly said that he won’t fight Ennis.

So, he SHOULD be stripped, right? Don’t defend your belt and get stripped, right? Right?

But it appears that the same people who are mad at the IBF for stripping Crawford are also mad at the WBC for NOT stripping Charlo...for the same reason of unfulfilled title defenses.

This would surprise me if I weren’t so familiar with the perpetually awful and clueless boxing media (and the fans who live in the media’s confused bubble). 

This boxing world is one where the same media that screams “sanctioning bodies don’t matter” and “belts don’t matter” also determine the “realness” of a fighter based on his champion status and his path to unifying the titles-- titles issued by the sanctioning bodies that “don’t matter” and should be “ignored.”

And forget that “lineal” champ nonsense some try to champion. There are no more direct lineages in the sport. They know this. So, for media trying to crown “real” champions these days, “lineal” really means “unified.” Unified what? Unified champs, holding the belts that “don’t matter,” sanctioned by the organizations that “don’t matter.”

It would be funny if it weren’t so excruciatingly dumb. It’s like navigating with an erroneous map that you know to be erroneous, yet insisting unwaveringly that it’ll get you to your destination beyond a doubt. 

We see this type of cognitive dissonance all over the place in this sport when it comes to titles, champions, and rankings. 

The belts don't matter...until they do...until they don't...until they're used as a measure by which "real" is defined...until "real" is established...and then they don't matter again? This is some loopy logic, even by boxing standards. 

How crazy is it that people who say “ditch the belts, ditch the alphabets” can, in the very next breath, complain about a fighter not fulfilling his obligations as a belt-holding representative of the organization they say must be cast aside for the good of the sport? 

This is just the boxing world we live in. This is a world where fake outrage, lip service, convenient idiotry, and a heaping dose of agenda (because we all know some fighters are forgiven for transgressions a lot more quickly than others) are boiled up in a gigantic virtual crockpot that, ultimately, only serves to sustain the status quo. 

So, what’s the answer to establishing “real” champions and rankings not operating under the whims of shysters and hustlers? That’s a question well above my pay grade. Give me some money and some time to think, however, and I’d draw up something workable-- something that would surely be rejected universally by a boxing media that insists on leaving its wonky palm prints on everything. 

One thing is for certain, though. The answer does NOT lie within the ranks of the current crop of pompous, dim, frequently compromised, and pathologically self-referential boxing media. Those who KNOW and CARE are vastly outnumbered by idiots snapchatting their press passes. 

In other words, forget about change and reform and learn to live within the world built around us, as stupid as it is. 

In this real world of ours, the belts matter and, so, by extension, the sanctioning bodies also matter. They matter to the fighters, to the fans, and even to the media who scream the loudest about how they don’t matter.

Got something for Magno? Send it here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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