|Manny Pacquiao (FIL) will go down in history as one of the greatest boxers of all time. Last Saturday he fought against Yordenis Ugás (CUB) to determine the World Boxing Association’s Welterweight “Super” Championship. The Cuban -who was a late replacement- won via Unanimous Decision and is now the “Super” Champion. “Super”, because they were both WBA World Champions…Although Jamal James (USA) is now considered the actual WBA Champion. What a mess.
The World Boxing Association looks every day more ridiculous with its “World Championship” system. While the International Boxing Federation only has one Champion and both the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organizations have a few “Interim Champions” for reasonable circumstances, the WBA virtually has adopted the practice of having three Champions per weight class, which is ludicrous.
Originally each weight class only had one WBA Champion, “The” Champion. Then sometimes interim titles were bestowed when a Champion was not able to defend the title with the mandatory challenger. Fair. Then in 2000 the “Super” Champion emerged for circumstances when the WBA Champion was also the World Champion for another organization, making it difficult for them to defend against the mandatory challenges on time. Somewhat fair.
Today however the three different titles are simply not justified. by those circumstances. Now it is the consuetudinary practice for WBA to recognize three Champions for almost every single division, as if the “Super” and “Interim” Champions were not exceptions but rather vacant titles that had to always be filled.
There is more. Entering the fight, Pacquiao was also a “Champion” but but was not even in either of those categories. He was a “Champion in Recess” as per the WBA website. It is understandable that sometimes boxer cannot defend their titles, such as Pacquiao’s political engagements. But those were exactly the situation that supposedly triggered the “Super” and “interim” Champions! So what is the point now?
It is not the boxer’s fault that the WBA, led by Gilberto Mendoza, has engaged in such practices. They play by the rules in front of them and contend for the “World Championships” given by the organizations that have been considered legitimate.
But at the point when the WBA starts giving three titles as a practice, with three apparent categories, then the “legitimacy” might start to be questioned, particularly for two of these titles.
People are already confused by the fact that there are four World Championship-granting organizations (and then at least one more that is generally not recognized as legitimate) plus The Ring Magazine, plus the concept of the “Lineal Champion. What the WBA is doing here is not good for the sport.
Edit: The same day we published this article the World Boxing Association decided to vacate all interim titles. Planned interim World Boxing Title fights will now become eliminators.
A good, welcome step.