I enjoy watching fights in the lighter-weight classes. The fights at flyweight and bantamweight are faster, there are more punches thrown and the fighters seem more skilled. Why don’t we see more bouts televised from the lighter classes here in the United States? Chris John’s two fights against Rocky Juarez and the recent unsuccessful title defense by Akifumi Shimoda are the only two that come to mind. Is there simply not a demand to see fighters like Toshiaki Nishioka, Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and Nubuo Nashiro? Do they make more money staging their fights in Japan, Thailand, or Indonesia? Or is the traveling and acclimating to the U.S. a problem?
I too really enjoy the lighter-weight divisions for the same reasons you do. You have also pretty much answered your own question. Thanks to TV money and a significant fanbase, the top Asian fighters (especially in Japan) earn very well in their homelands, where they are stars and, to a certain degree, protected. On the other hand, with the exception of hardcore fans, they are virtually unknown in the United States.
In order for a foreign fighter to hit it big in the United States, he needs an exciting style, which is most likely the reason Chris John’s two U.S. showings did not make much of an impression. But don’t forget Manny Pacquiao. The Philippines is, of course, an Asian country but is relatively poor compared to Japan and South Korea. The financial realities at home make fighting in the U.S. a far more attractive proposition for Filipino fighters. Moreover, most of them are aggressive bangers, which gives them a better chance of garnering stateside fans.
With the majority of you guys in agreement that the sanctioning bodies are hurting the sport and that The Ring magazine champions are the legitimate champions, why do you still cover the sanctioning bodies in your publications? Why do you refer to the fighters who hold these titles as champions? It doesn’t really make sense when a fight is billed as a “championship fight,” and then during the broadcast, the commentators dismiss the legitimacy of the title that fighters are fighting for.
Also, The Ring title is free of sanctioning fees, so I don’t see why anyone would want to pay fees to fight for an organization that will have three other champions in their weight class and strip them of a title if you don’t do what they want them to do.
While The Ring has had a staunch anti-alphabet organizations policy for decades, our decision on which fights to cover is based on the quality of the match, regardless of whether it’s for a sanctioning body belt. Still, editorial philosophy notwithstanding, we are also in the business of providing information. Therefore, The Ring usually mentions the fact that an alphabet title is on the line. It is, however, getting increasingly difficult to distinguish between the ever-increasing number of so-called alphabet champions because of the preposterous “interim,” “super,” “regular,” and “emeritus” categories created by the organizations. Consequently, The Ring is considering dropping all mention of them in the future and would be interested in knowing how other readers feel about such a move.
You are a bit confused on one point: The Ring does not refer to any fighter as a “champion” if he does not hold The Ring belt. We always call them “titleholder,” “titlist,” “beltholder,” etc.
While I can’t speak for TV broadcasters, my guess is that much of the on-air talent understands what a farce many of the titles are, so they try to balance the scales by informing viewers of the true worth of the belt at stake.
Finally, it is indeed a mystery why so many fighters are willing to fork over a significant portion of their purses to get involved with the alphabet organizations, only to end up getting screwed. Economics certainly plays a role, as fighters, and especially managers and promoters, seem to believe that having any sort of belt will enhance their earning power. While this is sometimes true in the short term, it generally ends up badly. The truth is that good fights attract fans, not phony belts.
Do you think promoters should introduce Fight of the Night and Knockout of the Night bonuses to fighters like they do in UFC and other MMA organizations to encourage more action and possibly avoid a lot of snoozefests that are commonplace in the sport?
The bonus gambit has been tried a number of times in the past, mainly on small club shows. There have also been instances when managers and promoters promised bonuses for knockout wins. I’m not against either, but one thing that I believe should be banned is what happened when William Joppy challenged middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins in 2003: Joppy bet Hopkins $50,000 that he would last the 12-round distance. Joppy won the wager (and B-Hop paid), but Joppy absorbed a cruel beating and his face was a hideously swollen horror mask as a result. It is doubtful that even the most-callous cornermen would have permitted Joppy to keep going if an extra 50 grand wasn’t on the line.
Does The Ring ever effectively override judges’ decisions and rank the “losing” fighter above the winner based on what The Ring perceives to have been the stronger performance (versus what the judges saw as the winning performance)?
I notice Paul Williams was demoted and Erislandy Lara entered the rankings following Williams’ controversial decision win, but the issue of who to rate higher was conveniently avoided by them being in different weight classes. If they were the same weight class, would Lara be rated higher?
Paul Williams was demoted for back-to-back poor performances. While the fact that he has frequently moved between several weight classes does confuse the issue somewhat, as he was ranked at middleweight going into the Erislandy Lara fight, it was the 160-pound rankings in which he took a nosedive. Hypothetically, had Williams and Lara both been rated in the same division, and Williams had won in a similarly contentious manner, The Ring would probably have done what it did in the Felix Sturm-Matthew Macklin situation: keep Sturm were he was and promote Macklin. But The Ring has no blanket policy. Each case has to be decided on its individual merits.
Love the magazine, and your ratings are still the best in the business. I just saw that you and the rest of the ratings panel chose to advance Amir Khan over Tim Bradley, and while I don’t disagree with the move, I’m curious: How much did the fact that Bradley had a chance to fight Khan and chose not to take it factor into the decision? I know ratings are based on results more than anything, but does something less tangible like that play into your decision?
Also, it’s been a while since we’ve heard you on the Ring Theory podcast. I always enjoy your appearances. You going to be doing the show again anytime soon?
Thanks for the kind words. The decision to rate Amir Khan over Tim Bradley was based mainly on Bradley’s inactivity and Khan’s KO of Zab Judah, who entered the fight rated No. 6 at junior welter. The fact that Bradley had an opportunity to fight Khan and declined was a secondary consideration. The Ring still believes that Bradley is an outstanding talent and understands that he is currently embroiled in a contractual battle, but if we made an exception for every fighter who is dissatisfied with his manager and/or promoter, the rankings would descend into total disarray.
I’m scheduled to be a guest on the next Ring Theory, which should be posted Aug. 3. But if you can’t wait until then, I’m part of a highlight program currently being offered free of charge.
I have a question and a criticism. Hopefully you can shed some light on both of them. First, let’s take a hypothetical situation:
Fighter A is the undisputed champion of his division and has The Ring belt to prove it. Fighter B is the undisputed No. 1 contender and, in some circles, people believe Fighter B is the better of the two. The problem is that Fighter A will never fight Fighter B. This is a guaranteed superfight that unfortunately will never happen. So in this particular situation, would you say that Fighter A should be stripped of his belt because he’s absolutely refusing to take on his greatest challenger? Or should Fighter A continue to play by his own rules and remain unpunished for ducking the legitimate No. 1 contender?
Now for my criticism: God knows I love Manny Pacquiao and I know his face on the cover sells magazines, but, in light of Bernard Hopkins making boxing history as the oldest-ever champion, would it have hurt to give the old man the cover?
The Ringhas a ironclad no-stripping policy, so we would not strip a champion under the circumstances you describe. No system is perfect, and I understand that fans get frustrated when they can’t see the fights they want to see when they want to see them. But stripping titles from champions is an extremely slippery slope, one that has led to the current chaotic situation of which the alphabet organizations take unfair advantage. As Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying, “That government is best which governs least.”The Ringbelieves that the same philosophy should also apply to boxing. Titles should be won and lost in the ring.
If you have not already seen the September issue of The Ring, you will be happy when you do – Bernard Hopkins graces the cover. While it is true that Manny Pacquiao’s image on the cover sells more magazines than any other current fighter, sales are not the only criterion for whose face goes on the cover. If it were, Pacquiao would be on it every month. As in most things, timing is crucial. While we had time to slip in coverage of Hopkins’ history-making victory over Jean Pascal into the August issue at the last minute, it was impossible to also put him on the cover. I hope you enjoy the cover image of B-Hop and the interview.
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