Are Championship Belts Worthless?
Are Championship Belts Worthless?
By: Brandon Bernica
Every big fight night, you’re all but guaranteed to see high-level boxers flocked by their teams. Usually, one member of these teams carries out a fighter’s prized memorabilia: championship belt(s). The ring announcer reminds the crowd which belts are at stake in the upcoming fight. And after all the smoke clears and the fight finishes, one man comes out on top, taking with him his own belt and that of the man he just beat.
As pretty as belts are to look at, many in boxing argue that there are simply too many these days to care. For the uninitiated, each division in boxing features four belts – the WBC, WBA, WBO, and IBF – and the more belts you possess, the more viable your argument is as the top dog at your weight. Yet each belt organization is free to make its own arbitrary standards. Not only do sub-top 5 fighters often win championships before the elite class, they garner an exaggerated profile as top-notch when, in reality, they’re far from that status. Furthermore, unifying titles to find a “true champion” rarely occurs. This is due to a lack of cooperation between sanctioning bodies and the unwillingness of fighters to challenge themselves further after winning a title.
Even though the belt organizations run boxing like the Wild West and rankings are skewed, belts still offer boxers great amounts of promise. When a fighter reaches the pinnacle and wins his first championship, his role shifts from hunter to hunted. Since other fighters, now petition to fight for his crown, his bargaining power (and bank account) grow exponentially. Additionally, that fighter’s trainer becomes a championship trainer. Trainers such as Robert Garcia and Freddie Roach built deep stables of talent after they proved their merit with their initial championship-winning fighters.
Belts represent opportunity, perseverance, and pride. While some might argue that four belts remain too many, to fighters that means four different routes to accomplishing a lifelong dream. Most boxers grow up envisioning themselves hoisting a belt victorious in the center of the ring; giving more opportunity to turn this into reality is a plus. And while boxing sabotages itself in failing to pit the best against the best, the belt framework brings us one step closer to that hope. If the organizations could just pass bylines together to coordinate unifications, cream of the crop matchups could become more frequent. Again, each step in this chain provides life-changing money for fighters, setting them up better for retirement.
While it’s easy to point fingers at these sanctioning bodies for the issues in the sport, these groups have immense authority in a divided landscape. They control the incentives that drive fighters to fight: money, titles, notoriety, etc. Because of their standing, they can use their voices to advocate for improvements in boxing. The WBC has already taken some pivotal stands themselves. They decline to sanction professional fighters who decide to fight in the Olympics against amateurs. In addition, many fighting under WBC rules undergo rigorous VADA drug testing to ensure that no one cheats to the top.
In the destabilized ecosystem that is boxing, change is necessary. Instead of looking at belts as symbols of evil, it might be more productive to view them as conduits of boxing growth. By making the self-serving characters in the fight game operate under reasonable regulations, our sport can grow closer to a proper framework similar to the NBA and NFL. Still, belts are boxing’s Stanley Cup or Lombardi Trophy, meaningful through the journey to obtain them. They should stay that way.
Gabriel Campillo: “We won against Tavoris Cloud, and it was so clear…”
By Hans Olson
Back on February 18, Spain’s Gabriel Campillo turned in a performance of a lifetime against the undefeated Tavoris Cloud.
Unfortunately for Campillo, painfully inept judging by David Robertson and Joel Elizondo prevented him from becoming the new IBF Light Heavyweight Champion. While Elizondo’s card of 114-112 was bad enough, Robertson’s 116-110 card was downright laughable.
Only judge Dennis Nelson got it right, scoring the contest for Campillo 115-111.
Even with the split-decision loss, Campillo holds his head high, with his stock rising considerably.
Boxing Insider caught up Gabriel Campillo this week to discuss the fight and much more. Check it out!
Boxing Insider: First off, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions Gabriel! Can you tell me how you’re feeling now with time having passed since the fight with Cloud?
Gabriel Campillo: “Hello! It’s a pleasure for me to have the opportunity of expressing myself and share with the boxing fans my opinions and thoughts. I feel so happy for how the fight was developed, I think we did very good work physically, technically and strategically. It could be said that the whole world has watched it, and so I am considered as one of the strongest at Light Heavyweight. So the outcome for me? It is positive.
Boxing Insider: What are your overall feelings of the fight?
Gabriel Campillo: “I think we won the fight easily, maybe 115-111. There is no doubt that we lost the first round 10-7, but from then on we won almost all the following [rounds], with the exception of one or two maybe. We won, and it was so clear. Not close. So the fight was so easy to mark, really. It was definitely a horrible decision, the one given by the judges.”
Boxing Insider: Can you take me back to the first round? What happened with the knockdowns?
Gabriel Campillo: “I started as I usually do: to move, trying to study the rival in the first round, checking his speed and punch. Everything was going well, but suddenly he just surprised me with a good right-hand and I just fell. When I hit the floor, I realized that I could get up without any problems, and this is what I did. Later, I fell again, but it was because Cloud run over me—not because of the punching. This round was completely lost, so I just tried to move, recover and then fight as we had planned.”
Boxing Insider: After that first round, you dominated every second of every round. How did that happen? What did you do to adjust?
Gabriel Campillo: “I just started the second round with the aim of doing the work I came to do, the work I had been working on for so many months. When somebody is so prepared as I was for that fight, you recover no matter the problem. So, I started following the plan of my trainer Pablo Sarmiento: using mobility, speed, punching and moving side-to-side, not offering myself as a target. This turned me into a shadow—a shadow that could not be touched by a so technically limited boxer as Cloud—and we knew this would happen.”
Boxing Insider: What are your thoughts on Cloud as a fighter?
Gabriel Campillo: “Cloud is a good boxer, he is extremely hard and strong, so you must be very careful with his punching. On the other hand, he has some lack of defense, and technically, he has a limit.”
Boxing Insider: I’m sure you want a rematch. Do you think you will get one?
Gabriel Campillo: “The only reason I would like a rematch to happen is because I think it is the only way to get the title. It is not a matter of pride, because I really do think that I have already shown the world that I am far better than Cloud. I am not sure if there will be a rematch, but it would be so nice to get the title, and to offer the Spanish fans—and also the American fans who have supported me—another great fight.
Boxing Insider: If you don’t get a rematch with Cloud, what will be next for you?
Gabriel Campillo: “Right now, I’m just thinking of resting. My manager Sergio Martinez, and my promoter Sampson Lewcowicz, have to decide which will be the next step for me.”
Boxing Insider: Thanks again Gabriel! If you have anything to say to the American fans, feel free to do so!
Gabriel Campillo: “I would like to say that it was a wonderful pleasure to fight in the States, they are an amazing public, and they know a lot about boxing. I really enjoyed fighting for them, and I would love to do it again if that opportunity is brought to me. I feel they liked my boxing. I love America!”
(Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @hansolson)