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Boxing,  Our Writers,  World Weary Guy Blog

Boxing Struggles To Define Legitimacy

‘…conformity to the law or to rules…’

That’s what Oxford Languages tell us Legitimacy is. Rules and laws. Without this, there’s no risk, no importance; without the strata that rules and processes create, there is no reason to buy into (or buy literally) the Big Fight.

Why watch a fight based on the title if the title doesn’t hold any weight? This is what boxing is struggling with right now.

And it’s just become a real issue.

Which Boxing Do You Want?

You can have the rules-based Boxing. You can have entertainment-based Boxing. But you can’t have both.

And there are so many types of Boxing at the moment:

Belt v Belt, the absolute best v the absolute best

Eliminator fights for the chance of a belt

Fights we’ve wanted to see for years

Prospects v prospects making the best of their chances

And then…

Exhibition matches, reality star v reality star, YouTuber v YouTuber

Exhibition fights with former champs v entertainment stars

Tag Team Boxing – don’t ask

It Was Already Confusing

The waters were muddied by Jake Paul. When he faced those reality TV stars and the like, we knew where we were. And then he got a liking for Boxing.

He wanted to be a boxer, aspiring to some sort of Legitimacy perhaps, which is why the Tommy Fury fight took place, some say.

Tommy may have had a reality TV sojourn, but he was from THAT family and he was a legitimate boxer; Paul lost and was gracious in defeat, stressing the work he was doing and getting better as a boxer.

And then he boxed Nate Diaz, an MMA fighter. Boxing purists and even casual fans talk of fighters from the 70’s and 80’s others wouldn’t know, they study the fight game.

And you can’t have it both ways, this is either Boxing or it isn’t. And that’s the big issue now.

Tyson Fury Enters The Discussion

”’Fury will be fighting Francis Ngannou on October 28th in Saudi Arabia. Francis is an ex-UFC, mixed martial arts champion, and thought to have ‘a puncher’s chance’.’Fury will be fighting Francis Ngannou on October 28th in Saudi Arabia. Francis is an ex-UFC, mixed martial arts champion, and thought to have ‘a puncher’s chance’.

Let’s put aside the potential for a KO aside, because this is actually more of a problem out of the ring.

We can understand what exhibition Boxing matches are, whether we like them or not; to me, they are sideshows. And YouTube channel Sporting Icons posted this:

which contains the info that this is not on BoxRec, which means it isn’t a professionally recognised fight, it doesn’t go on either boxer’s win or loss record.

Why did we need to be told? Because this is higher stakes than other exhibition fights.

After all, Tyson Fury is WBC heavyweight champ. And that changes things. WBC head Mauricio Sulaiman told DAZN;

‘The WBC is absolutely supportive of Tyson Fury and his decision to engage in a non-title bout and a WBC special event contest.’

and that’s fine, but it adds confusion. Fury is a belt holder and that’s a legitimate claim, it makes things a bit more serious.

At the basis, it puts a current champion in the exhibition match world, it endorses those Boxing exhibition matches.

Of course the belt isn’t on the line, no Boxing fan would expect that, but the sight of a current heavyweight champ in such a match either:

Tries to add Legitimacy

Takes some shine off the belt

I don’t know which it is, and Sulaiman seems comfortable with it, but I worry.

What does this mean for the Legitimacy of Boxing?

What does it say about the championship which hasn’t been defended this year and was last defended against Derek Chisora?And what does it say about a champ who tells us he won’t fight Anthony Joshua again, even after the Joshua v Deontay Wilder match was announced by WBC as a title eliminator.

As he told IFL;

What does Tyson Fury want? To be a Hollywood actor, would be the next step but one the size of Kilimanjaro for him, I feel. Or he wants Ngannou again and Jon Jones in a cage.

But there was no mention of Boxing opponents. No mention of his next opponent. He rubbished some boxers, but seemed not to be concerned with title contenders; what does that say about the belt?

Good For Boxing?

The exhibition matches first, some are fun, not sure about Tag Team Boxing, but they can be an event.

And that’s what they are, an event, not really a Boxing match, the outcome doesn’t really matter it’s just entertainment.

Entertainment is important to Boxing, the ‘Roll up, roll up’, the money-making, That’s understood. But when you put a current champion in there, the stakes are higher and no matter who wins on 28th (it’s going to be Tyson Fury), Boxing looks like being the loser.

And for a fan, it just got even harder to defend the sport.

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