The World Series of Boxing Offers A Different Way to Revitalize the Sport
By Omar Al Raisi
There is much to admire about a sport in which words such as courage, tenacity, honor, skill and determination are given physical meaning. But for many non-boxing fans, there is a dark side to the culture surrounding boxing — it is perceived as “violence” and not a “sport.”
Boxing was a formerly immensely popular sport that has somewhat diminished in the past 20-plus years, since it moved from network to subscription TV. One of the reasons, the sport fell out of the mainstream is because it does not have a proper universally accepted “Boxing Association.”
To start with, there are way too many belts and championships, the bouts are licensed and commissioned by different boxing associations and organizations (WBO, WBA, WBC, IBF) and the fights are set up and organized by different promoters, who are corrupt, often don’t deal with each other, and run the sport of boxing because they control the boxers (through contracts).
Unlike any other sport, in boxing, promoters and the boxers decide their own opponents and dates of the bouts. This whole multiplicity of international boxing organizations is a problem that seems to defy solutions. As has often been stated, the sport of boxing needs a massive cleaning up.
Boxing needs to get rid of all those “championship belts”, and commission only one belt per weight division by only one boxing association/regulator.
The US government has to step in and help clean up the sport: the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF has to be incorporated into one official boxing association just like the NFL or NBA or MLS.
Existing organizations include the WBO in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the WBC in Mexico City, the WBA in Panama, the IBF in New Jersey and the international amateur body, the AIBA, based in Lausanne, which used to require fighters to wear head guards but have now changed their rule on it. The AIBA is mostly ignored for everything that isn’t the Olympics.
The World Series of Boxing (WSB), started in 2008 by Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu, is steadily making a change with a unique competition format in the sport of boxing. Some of the world’s most talented boxers compete in teams from different countries, without head guards and using the AIBA Ten Point-Must scoring system.
The AIBI is the only global pro-style competition where teams of boxers go head to head in a league format with franchises from all over the world. The WSB is endorsed by nearly 200 National Federations and represents, together with AIBA’s new competition format AIBA Pro Boxing (APB), the future of boxing.
WSB has a transparent scoring system and provides boxers with further development opportunities by allowing them to compete at the highest level with guarantees and stability over the long term, while at the same time retaining their Olympic eligibility.
Into its fifth season now, so far there have been 884 boxers from 76 different countries competing in the first four seasons. In total, 50 WSB boxers competed at the London Games, seven of them winning medals (4 silver and 3 bronze). In 2014, 66 WSB boxers have signed up with APB.
Fresh off their impressive victory against the visiting Azerbaijan Baku Fires recently, The USA Knockouts won the match, 4-1, and advanced to 9-4 and second place in Group B at the WSB’s 5th season.
USA Knockouts are second with 12 points in the rankings of Group B with a total of four wins and a loss, chasing the Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, with a total of 15 points (5 wins and 0 loss).
Some claim that the unpredictability of boxing and the fact that the non-existence of a ‘league or tournament’ format is what makes boxing special and attracts the big purses, PPV buys and sponsorships. However, developing young amateur boxers into Olympians and potential future superstars is what motivates the WSB. However, whether this league format of boxing by the WSB and AIBA can sustain itself over the years is yet to be seen.
TV deals, endorsements and bigger pay to the boxers would take WSB to the forefront of boxing.