It is a theme I hit on often, but in today’s boxing universe, you just can’t hammer this theme enough: Not all “world champions” are truly world champions. Some belt holders do not even have a legitimate claim on world-championship status.
Eduard Troyanovsky of Russia is one of those “champions.” The IBF says he is the world champion at super lightweight. Every knowledgeable fan knows better. Only Terence Crawford has a legitimate claim to championship status at 140 pounds.
Crawford defeated Viktor Postol earlier this year, the division’s other top fighter. That unified the WBO and WBC titles and gave Crawford consensus recognition as the lineal champ. But even if Crawford’s claim on the crown were less rock-solid, Troyanovsky’s would still be weak.
Troyanovsky claimed his belt when stopped Cesar Rene Cuenca last November. It was Cuenca’s first loss in 49 professional bouts, but he had fought nobody of note and “earned” his own belt by defeating China’s Ik Yang, a fighter who did not even deserve to be in the 140 pound top 50. Cuenca had knocked out 2 of his 48 opponents.
Troyanovsky stopped Cuenca a second time in a rematch earlier this year. In September, he stopped non-entity Keita Obara in two rounds.
While Troyanovsky is not a legitimate world champion, he does deserve to be ranked as a top 10 contender at this point. He’s 25-0 with 22 KOs and has beaten some good, lower-level contenders.
But he has still yet to fight outside of Russia, against a true-blue contender. At 36, he is way overdue for that.
Meanwhile, he will defend his belt this weekend in Russia, against Namibia’s Julius Indongo. Indongo is 20-0, with all his fights taking place in his native country, which he represented in the 2008 Olympics. I know nothing about him, but can say that if he has won 20 professional fights against no losses fighting on the African circuits, he is a tough guy. If he qualified for the Olympics, he had to be an experienced, international amateur.
Maybe this will be his big break. Either way, I hope the winner of this bout puts the IBF belt up for grabs in a high-profile fight in 2017.