Remember that television show “Whose Line Is It Anyway”?
You know, the one that tested the improvisation skills of comedians and was always begun by host Drew Carey who always stated that it was “the show where everything is made up and the points don’t matter.”
He may very well have been talking about the sport of boxing and the farce that unfolded days before a highly-anticipated matchup between Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez.
The story goes that Cotto, the holder of the World Boxing Council middleweight title, was approached to pay over a hefty sum of $300 000 to the organisation in order to make the title fight legitimate.
He baulked at the amount, a shade over R4-million, and refused to sign the cheque. The WBC then, true to form, decided he was not worthy to be called their champion and stripped him.
The result is that if Cotto beats his Mexican foe then all he claims are bagging rights, along with a healthy purse. Alvarez has duly supplied the WBC with the amount they asked of him and if he is successful then the belt is his.
I hope Cotto wins just to prove a point.
What the behaviour of the sanctioning body has done is that it has once again highlighted the fact that the sport does not do itself too many favours by allowing the alphabet soup of organisations to try and dictate matters.
They say that it’s the champion who makes the belt. But the belt goes to those willing to pay.
Look at the diabolical situation you find in some organisations where there is an interim champion, a world champion and then a super champion. All in the same weight category. So who is the best?
It’s only done so that the big money fights can happen and naturally, the sanctioning bodies rub their hands as they await their percentage.
Why do you think fighters are loathe to unify belts? Or do so only to drop one or more the next time they step in the ring? Sanctioning fees don’t come cheap.
The WBC even went as far to try and muscle in whenever Floyd Mayweather stepped into the ring. Going so far as to come up with the idea of the WBC Diamond Belt in order to get their piece of the pie.
The reality is that belts help hype fights. It’s more fun when there is a prize on the line and tickets are that bit easier to sell.
Why do you think we have a smorgasbord of intercontinental, Pan-African and youth belts?
It’s like a Christmas episode of the Oprah Winfrey show. “You’re getting one. You’re getting one. You’re all getting one,” the host used to scream as the crowd went into fits of hysteria.
Cotton has achieved enough to know that another belt probably wouldn’t make much of a difference – he’s already won four world titles – but his response has to be commended.
Finally, someone stood up to the greedy ambitions of people who are supposed to have boxing’s best interests at heart.