If you have read even a handful of my columns on this site, you have likely seen me disparaging the various alphabet-soup sanctioning bodies–the WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF and assorted other would-be King Makers. They are the bane of our great and noble sport. In concert, they have made the Sweet Science a marginal sport.
This is not hyperbole. Over the years, the alphabet cabals have greatly diminished the stature of boxing. There are of course a variety of reasons that boxing does not enjoy the same prestige that it did decades ago. But primary among them is this: it has been years since fans could easily recognize who was and was not a legitimate world champion. And the alphabet-soup organizations are directly responsible.
This week it was the IBF’s turn to trash the sport’s integrity.
Last weekend Julius Indongo defeated veteran Ricky Burns in Scotland, to unify his IBF super lightweight title with Burns’ WBA version. The stage should be set for a major fight between Indongo and Terence Crawford, the WBC and WBO title holder. Crawford is the recognized lineal champion at 140 pounds and Indongo can justifiably be called the No. 2 fighter in the division, at least if you set aside Viktor Postol, who Crawford defeated last year.
Crawford vs. Indongo at this point would be the best fight in the division, even without the belts. With the belts, it would allow for something we almost never see–a true, undisputed world champion. By my calculation, the last fighter to achieve that distinction was Bernard Hopkins, in 2004.
But it looks like that fight won’t happen, at least not with all the hardware on the line. Earlier today the IBF announced that they would force Indongo to forego a unification fight, in favor of fighting Sergey Lipinets, a contender with just 12 fights.
Lipinets has certainly looked very good in those 12 fights. But he has not really faced a true contender, either. For the IBF to insist that his title shot needs to pre-empt one of the most important fights possible defies any sense of logic or decency.