If there is a common complaint shared by almost everyone who follows boxing, it is there are too many champions and too many divisions. It has long been argued that the proliferation of titles and weight classes has made it difficult to follow boxing, and for fans to identify who is the best in each division. As a result unification matches leading to an undisputed champion have always been popular with boxing fans. An undisputed champion makes it easy for new fans to enter the sport, and for sports media to identify a star. Fortunately there has been a recent push in boxing to have more unification matches in boxing.
Terence Crawford became only the second fighter in boxing history to win all four major titles (WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO) when he defeated Julius Indongo this past August to become the undisputed Jr. Welterweight champion. It is important to note that Indongo was also the IBO champion; however, that belt was not on the line in their title fight. Unfortunately the four belts Crawford collected at Jr. Welterweight became vacant when he moved up to the Welterweight division. The Welterweight division is also moving towards an undisputed champion, joining the Heavyweight division with one unified champion (Keith Thurman and Anthony Joshua respectively) and other title holders eager to face each other. At Middleweight, Gennady (GGG) Golovikin holds the WBA, WBC, and IBF titles. GGG has been pursuing a unification fight with WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders. Ryan Burnett holds the WBA and IBF titles and Bantamweight. Ryoichi Taguchi holds the WBA and IBF titles at Jr. Featherweight, which brings us to 6 unified champions in 17 weight classes.
The latest division to move towards unification is the Cruiserweights, with the World Boxing Super Series Tournament. Three weeks ago, WBO Cruiserweight champion Okeksandr Usyk beat WBC champion Mairis Briedis by majority decision, to claim two of the four titles. This past Saturday IBF champion Murat Gassiev took the WBA crown from former champion Yunier Dorticos by TKO in the 12th round. Usyk and Gassiev are attempting to become only third undisputed Cruiserweight Champion, following in the footsteps of Evander Holyfield and O’Neil Bell. An undisputed champion can only serve to bring more recognition to one of boxing’s overlooked division.
With a scheduled unification bout between Erislandy Lara and Jarrett Hurd for the WBA and IBF Super Welterweight titles scheduled in April. Boxing can now have nine unified champions in 17 weight classes, this has to be seen as a step in the right direction for the sport.