We love the silly belts here at weirdboxing as they give us so much to look at and laugh at. The newest of these silly belts is the WBO "Fighter of the Decade" title which we will see for the first (but hopefully not the last) time tonight as Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez do battle over it.
As we all know this will be the fourth meeting between Marquez and Pacquiao after the 3 previous contests all went to razor thin decisions (2 in favour of Pacquiao and 1 a draw). It's fair to say that after 36 rounds not much separates "The Pacman" and "Dinamita", in fact many will tell you it's just the 4 knockdowns (all by Pacquiao) that has put Pacquiao 2-0-1 against Marquez.
So what do we "like" about the WBO "Fighter of the Decade" title? Well for a start we are less than 30% into the decade! Yes it's not even 2013 yet but that doesn't stop the WBO from declaring a fighter of the decade. It's unfair to call them out on that though because lets be honest they've never had a fighter of the decade title for the the 90's or the 00's so they are simply making up for lost time!
Hopefully all the organisations follow suit then in the coming years we could have a "WBC Emeritus Fighter of the Decade title" a "WBA Super Fighter of the Decade title" and we could even have Fighter of the Decade Unification bouts and interim Fighter of the Decade titles!
Just imagine in 2022 having a 49 year old Juan Manuel Marquez coming out of retirement to face the next WBO Fighter of the Decade title holder to win the fighter of the 20 year title! I know I can't wait!
Hopefully Francisco "Paco" Varcarcel is reading this and realises I'm on to a good idea! We need more titles in this sport. If the WBO want to offer an "Overweight writing world title" I'm happy to go up for it against "Fat" Dan Rafael, I'd quite like to call myself a "boxing world champion"!
The WBO have long been seen as a bit of a joke organisation with weird rankings, poor champions and some bizarre decisions. In recent years however, thanks to the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Wladimir Klitschko, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez the WBO has become a bit of a genuine fixture on the world scene and has started to become more and more accepted as a genuine world title.
Sadly however the WBO have found a way to take 1 step forward, 2 steps backwards time and time again. The most recent example of their "2-steps back" is their November rankings in which they rank Scottish fighter and former WBO Featherweight champion Scott Harrison (27-2-2, 15) as their #11 at Featherweight.
Usually I'd have no problems with a former champion being ranked at a weight where they held a world title just 3 fights back (and never lost their belt in the ring). However things with Harrison aren't that straight forward. Last time Harrison held his world title may have only been 3 fights back, but that was over 6 years ago, and last time out Harrison weighed in well above the Featherweight limit, 145lbs. In fact in Harrison's two most recent fights he weight in at 134.75 and 145, the lightest of those being only a smidge inside the Lightweight limit.
Whilst I know we all make mistakes (something Harrison has done regularly away from the ring) the WBO's mistake here is simply laughable. I'm not sure if they expect Harrison to chop off his legs to face their Featherweight champion (Orlando Salido-what a fight that would have been if Harrison was near his prime), or have slipped him in their rankings as a way to allow him to fight for a title at 135lbs (against fellow Scot Ricky Burns), but whatever it is it's certainly suspect and more than a little bit "weird".
If you follow current events you may be well aware that China is starting to irritate a number of it's neighbours due to various border disputes as they attempt to show they are the new global super power. If you read the news stories it appears that their targets are only other Asian countries, however the WBO seem to recognise China's reach as going as far afield as the Bahamas, New Zealand and the USA.
In 2010 the WBO created the "WBO China Zone Heavyweight title" (I'm not making this up sadly). The first bout for this title saw Chinese fighter Jiang Hang defeat Russian
Egor Eliseev for the belt. Whilst I'm not sure what Eliseev was doing fighting for the title I completely understand Jiang Hang fighting for the belt, and have no real issue with him winning the title. Since then however the title has made little to no sense.
In 2011 the title was made vacant and allowed American born Kiwi Chauncy Welliver to fight American veteran Rob Calloway for the title. Yes, an American v a New Zealander fighting for the China Zone title, someone failed geography somewhere (I'm not saying it wasn't me, but I don't think it was me this time). That bout saw Welliver winning a decision over Calloway to claim the title.
An amazing 8 months after winning the title Welliver was to make his first title defense, this time against American based Bahamian Sherman "The Tank" Williams. Yeah don't ask how a fighter from New Zealand can defend a China Zone title against a guy from the Bahama's because I've not a clue either. Surprisingly Williams defeated Welliver (by 12 round majority decision) to claim the title and we now have the bizarre situation of a fighter from the Caribbean.
What makes this story even more interesting is the fact China has been handing out a number of loans to the Caribbean countries (as noted in this article from the New York Times)...Maybe China really are hoping to extend their boarders this far after all despite fact there is some 8000+ miles between the two places!
One thing all boxing fans will be fully aware of is the fact the title awarding bodies love to have multiple versions of "world titles" flying around the place. Whilst it's pretty obvious that the WBA are the biggest culprit with many divisions having a "Regular", an "Interim" and even a "Super" champion. Whilst we think that is pretty bad we've actually been made aware of the WBO going 1 step further and having 2 "interim" titles at the same time!
Back in the summer of 2010 Ivan Calderon was seen as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, he had been unbeaten in 35 fights (34-0-1) and was the reigning WBO Light Flyweight champion with a number of defenses behind him. Underneath him the WBO had an interim champion in the form of Filipino youngster John Riel Casimero. In June of 2010 Calderon defended his title against Mexican Jesus Iribe (UD12) then things started to get a bit weird at the WBO HQ.
Just weeks after Calderon v Iribe the WBO had their "Interim" title on the line as John Riel Casimero faced Ramon Garcia Hirales, Hirales managed to narrowly edge past Casimero to claim the "Interim title" and the logical idea would be to try and force Calderon v Hirales. The only problem with this is that the world of boxing is anything but logical.
Just weeks after Hirales had become the interim champion Calderon would lose his world title to Mexican slugger Giovani Segura (KO8) who unified the WBO title with the WBA title. Instead of then forcing Segura to face Hirales the WBO had a better idea and that was to allow Hirales to defend his interim strap against Manuel Vargas. Hirales was successful against Vargas (MD12) and it seemed like he had cemented his place as the "interim" champion. Sadly just 5 weeks later the WBO allowed Jesus Geles to face Omar Soto in a battler for the "interim" Light Flyweight title, the same one that Hirales had defended!
Geles managed defeat Soto (MD12) for the interim title bringing us to the situation of having 2 “interim” champions from the same governing body at the same time. What further complicated matters was the fact that Hirales was allowed to defend his “interim” title against the same Omar Soto who had lost to Geles, just weeks after the Soto Geles bout.
Thankfully the WBO cleared up the situation in February 2011 when Geles faced Hirales in what can only be considered a WBO “Interim” title unification bout. In a hard fought bout Geles controversially scored the split decision victory to unify the title belts.
Whilst this was confusing in terms of being an “interim” unification it was also confusing just on an activity basis. Between June 2010 and May 2011 the WBO Light Flyweight title, and the interims were fought for no less than 9 times (see below):
June 12th 2010-Calderon UD12 Iribe (“Regular” title)
July 24th 2010-Hirales SD12 Casimero (“Interim” title #1)
August 28th 2010-Segura KO8 Calderon (“Regular” title)
September 25th 2010-Hirales MD12 Vargas (“Interim” title #1)
October 30th-Geles MD12 Soto (“Interim” title #2)
December 18th 2010-Hirales UD12 Soto (“Interim” title #1)
February 5th 2011-Geles SD12 Hirales (“Interim” unification)
April 2nd 2011-Segura KO3 Calderon (“Regular” title) (Segura then vacated the title)
April 30th 2011-Hirales KO4 Geles (“Regular” title)
Thankfully the WBO finally got out of their own mess thanks to Segura moving up to fight at Flyweight.
We all hear the media and boxing fans alike complaining about their being too many world titles available for fighters now a days, back in the good old days there was only 1 and we all knew who the best was. Problem is that not only is there a host of world titles but we also have countless "other" titles, you know the International, the Inter-continental, the International Silver and those sorts of belts.
I understand the idea of having different levels of titles. I understand that a boxer starts at the bottom and works their way up. For example a British fighter will look to win an "Area" title, then a "National" title, then the "British title" then an international type of title (usually the "Commonwealth" title) then move on to more prestigious international belts ("European" title for example) before finally moving into world title bouts.
So, just for an example we can appreciate John Smith from Birmingham, England winning the "Central Area" title, the "English" title, the "British" title, the "Commonwealth title", the "European" title and then a "World" title. Taking steps up towards a defined goal.
However with their being so many "International" titles we're easily confused. We are just a few hours from David Haye v Dereck Chisora a bout that is being fought for 2 titles, but we've no idea which two. The Boxnation (the promoter) website claims the bout is for the WBO INTERNATIONAL & the WBA INTER-CONTINENTAL, Frank Warren's (Chisora's regular promoter) website claim the bout is for the "WBA/WBO INTERNATIONAL" title.
So the first question we have is "Which titles is the bout for?" Is the WBA INTERNATIONAL title on the line or is it the WBA INTER-CONTINENTAL? Secondly has anyone told the owners of some of these titles that they no longer holder the belt? For example does Tyson Fury, who holds the WBO INTER-CONTINENTAL title (apparently), know his belt is on the line tonight? Coincidentally Fury holds a won over Chisora and actually only won his INTERNATIONAL title last weekend. What about Andrzej Wawrzyk who, as recently as June defended his WBA INTERNATIONAL title?
The only "logical" (trust me I use that world loosely) titles that could be on the line would be the WBO INTERNATIONAL and WBA INTER-CONTINENTAL titles, the latter of which was last defended by Robert Helenius in December 2011 (again oddly against Chisora).
As far as we are aware, the only information regarding the WBO's stance with this fight comes from a really bizarre post on their website dated May 18th, 2012:
Clarification Regarding the Haye vs. Chisora Fight
"Nothing is really going on with the WBO with this. We are not asked to Sanction the contest.
After a match in Germany with"
(Yes it actually ends mid sentence)
Also interestingly Tyson Fury isn't mentioned on the WBO's website as holding any title at all.
The WBA's situation is equally as blurry with their website still listing Andrzej Wawrzyk as the "WBA INT" champion. INT being short for INTERNATIONAL or INTER-CONTINENTAL? Our only clue there is that David Kostecki is currently listed as "WBA I/C" presumably "INTER-CONTINENTAL".
As of May 12th the WBA hadn't actually made their decision on putting their title on the bout either despite Frank Warren Promotions declaring that they had. The result of this vote doesn't appear to have been made public on their own website.
All in all, all I can safely say is that I'm confused. I guess I'll be like everyone else and find out for sure tonight...
Thank you to Eric Armit for bringing this situation to our attention with his look at whether or not the bout should be a 10 or 12 rounder.
Sources: WBO's stance on the fight-
WBA's titles and rankings-
WBA decision not made yet-
Eric Armit's excellent piece on boxrec-