Boxing’s key figures must band together to ditch the sport’s “useless” sanctioning bodies, according to The Athletic boxing writer Mike Coppinger.
Coppinger believes the sport being mired in politics due to the sheer number of organisations and belts available is one of the biggest issues facing it right now, and that journalists need to speak out about it.
The narrative has come squarely into focus yet again with the complex mandatory obligations facing heavyweight champions Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua threatening to complicate or even scupper a blockbusting unification showdown between the pair.
Coppinger told IFL TV: “These sanctioning organisations are useless for the sport, they’re only in it to make money and they’re gonna go with the biggest fight possible, I don’t see them standing in the way of Fury/Joshua, I’m confident they will just get out of the way.
“The sooner promoters and networks can shed themselves of these sanctioning organisations, the better off they’ll be. Imagine having some guy in Mexico or some guy in South America telling you what fights you can and cannot do. Or some guy in the U.S, you know it doesn’t matter where the guy is. It’s just crazy.
“Could you imagine a guy telling (UFC president) Dana White what fights he is and isn’t gonna do? And then say ‘oh by the way, not only am I gonna tell you what fights you can and cannot do, but I wanna take a couple of hundred thousand dollars for the rights for you to do your own fight’. It’s ludicrous.”
Coppinger says in theory the solution to an issue which seems to have been around for ever is pretty simple, but activating it requires the key figures in the sport all being on the same page to end it once and for all.
“I think it’s quite simple – you all have to say ‘we’re not gonna recognise these sanctioning organisations any more, we’re gonna band together and we’ll have one title per weight class’. Maybe you do it like college football in the U.S, where you have the writers voting for the rankings. Or the ATP works globally for tennis.
“But the system now is completely broken, it’s confusing for fans, it gets in the way of fighters making the best fights and you’re paying people for nothing – it’s crazy for how much money there is, when fighters and promoters are fighting tooth and nail to make top dollar, you’re just pissing money away to these guys, these sanctioning organisations.
“If you’re not gonna band together and make one, I think what they should do is do the UFC model – maybe you have the PBC titles, maybe you have the Top Rank titles, I think it’s a better solution than what we have right now.”
Fury vs Joshua of course is the biggest story in boxing right now, and while a financial structure being agreed is good news, Coppinger believes there are many complicated issues still to be dealt with.
“I think they’re trying to drum up interest now and that’s always good. Is it risky to sign anything? Yes, but they didn’t get that far, the deal is far from being finalised. Like you said, it’s a basic financial split agreement.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done – obviously they both need to win their fights (Fury against Deontay Wilder, Joshua against Kubrat Pulev) like you said, but also the broadcast rights are gonna be complicated, especially in the U.S. Fury is tied to ESPN, Joshua has a first and last (matching agreement) with DAZN. DAZN’s not even in the pay-per-view business right now, these are not easy things.
“But it’s exciting for us as fight fans that we have the potential and the possibility of the biggest fight by far in boxing – because I think Fury is starting to get to that global star level.
“Fury is the one who has the outsized personality, he had the big knockout victory fight on ESPN pay-per-view with ESPN social media sharing it over and over to millions. I don’t think there’s any question that Fury is more well known than Joshua in the U.S.”