You may have noticed that the WBA can sometimes have more than one champion in a certain weight class (Anthony Joshua and Manuel Charr at Heavyweight for example), and it’s no doubt made you think “why?”.
Why have a Super Champion and a Regular Champion?
I’ll use the Middleweights to explain.
Canelo is the WBA Super World Champion and Rob Brant is the Regular World Champion. Simple enough? But there’s more.
“The SUPER WORLD CHAMPION CATEGORY OR UNDISPUTED WORLD CHAMPION was created for those World Champions who hold the title of two or more organisations recognised by the WBA, like the World Boxing Council (WBC), the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and the World Boxing Organisation (WBO).” – From the WBA website.
Going by the WBA’s rules, Canelo is the Super World Champion as he holds the WBC world title too– titles he won off the previous WBA Super Champion Gennady Golovkin. But why is he the Super Champion? Why is he not just the unified WBA and WBC Champion of the World? Well, I had a look into this.
The Super Champion’s time for making a mandatory defence of his WBA title is pushed to eighteen months, rather than nine months, or twelve for Heavyweights. This gives the champion time to fight his other titles mandatory challengers or to make voluntary defences before he has to fight the WBA’s mandatory challenger, meaning there is less chance of said champion being stripped of any of his titles.
Good idea right? When you see that they have a longer window to have to make a mandatory defence it sounds fair, and allows there to be fewer champions strutting about… until you realise that once the Champion is a “Super Champion” the WBA will then put the “Regular Championship” up for grabs, and in steps Rob Brant at Middleweight.
This means we could end up with two WBA champions. Then we can also have Interim Champions because, well, let’s see why.
Super Champion and Regular Champion: what about Interim Champion?
Interim Champions are put in place when the reigning champion cannot for some reason defend their belt, or hasn’t done so for a reasonable time. I’ll be looking at the light heavyweights for this bit.
I will start by saying that there isn’t a Super or Regular Champion at 175lbs. But give them time and they’ll find a reason to “promote” Bivol to that status – they gave Golovkin his Super Title for ten successful defences.
Dmitry Bivol is the WBA world champion at 175lbs having picked up the title by beating Trent Broadhurst back in November 2017 and has defended the title four times since, with his last defence being on the 9th March 2019.
We then have the WBA interim Champion Marcus Browne who won his title on the 19th January 2019.
Dmitry Bivol is an active fighter so there was no need for an interim championship bout to take place. So why was one put in place? The simple answer is for money.
What about the Gold Title?
I forgot about the Gold title! There is currently nothing on the WBA’s website about the Gold title, apart from them listing when a fighter is their reigning Gold Champion. Internet talk is that the Gold title apparently shows who the mandatory is for the Regular Title.
At heavyweight the WBA have a Super Champion, Regular Champion, Interim Champion and Gold Champion. The Gold Champion is supposedly the mandatory to the Regular Champion, but the interim Champion is surely in line to get a shot at the Regular title as well at some point. All very confusing, isn’t it.
It’s all down to money, and boxers’ egos
The more people they have with a WBA title, the more the WBA get in sanctioning money.
It’s a tit for tat situation as most fighters will take a paper belt off the organisation to be able to get themselves into a position to one day challenge the champion. But why can’t they just be the mandatory challenger? Earn their position as number one contender and then take a pop at the champion? Do they really need a belt around their waist to signify something, anything, special?
In an era with four major governing bodies (read this for more about the IBO) and a whole heap of alphabet titles, the last thing the WBA should be doing is complicating matters with four WBA world champions. It’s making it even harder to say who the best fighter in each division is if there is more than one from the WBA. It also de-values the WBA title. If you’re the regular champion and there is a super champion, you’re not even the top dog within the WBA, let alone being able to try and lay claim as the top dog in the division.
This situation is slowly killing the credibility of boxing, and it’s not only happening in the WBA. The WBC has World Champions, Interim World Champions, Silver World Champions, Diamond World Champions and Champion Emeritus. The WBO now has “Global” Champions.
The people who run boxing governing bodies need to realise that they were once fans like we are, and that as fans they didn’t want to be messed around and lied to. They need to stop trying to make money by cheating the fans with paper titles but by having one sole champion in each division represent them. Then make money through that fighter having big box-office clashes with some great contenders or other champions.
Keep the extended time for having to make a mandatory for a unified champion, it’s actually a very good idea, but stop allowing more than one champ. The WBA aren’t the only governing body guilty of this, but they have gone back on their word to reduce belts- adding more instead. Have the sole champion prove to the world he is the best at his weight. It will give boxing more, not less credibility.