To the Loser Goes the Spoils

BY Marc Lichtenfeld ON February 12, 2006
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“Losing is for losers
Winners play to win.” – Spinal Tap


It’s not that I don’t want to see Zab Judah and Floyd Mayweather scrap in a couple of months, after all, it’s still the best fight out there. I have no doubt this time that the real Zab will show up and the two boxers will put on a great show. It’s just that the fight has lost a bit of its luster since the championship is not on the line.

Oh, I know that the IBF still recognizes Zab Judah as its champion and that the two will fight for that worthless trinket. But call me old-fashioned. I like a superfight to have super ramifications. No matter how dominant either boxer is, you have to consider Carlos Baldomir the welterweight champion until someone beats him.

Eddie Goldman summed up the situation perfectly in his recent column on TheSweetScience.com when he wrote, “The National Football League has declared the 21-10 victory by the AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL, held Sunday in Detroit, over the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks null and void. The reason is that the Steelers failed to pay the proper sanctioning fee to the NFC, and thus cannot claim the undisputed NFL title, despite winning the game on the field. Plus, it wasn't that entertaining of a game anyway, so the NFL plans to have Seattle play Indianapolis, who lost to the Steelers in the playoffs, in two weeks for their championship, to be shown on NFL Pay-Per-View.”

That’s what this fight amounts to. I’ll still shell out the bucks to watch it (it’s a tax write-off) because Zab and Floyd are the two most talented boxers in the world in my opinion. There just should be more at stake than future purses and reputation.

The problem is, the loss of Zab’s title to Baldomir really doesn’t matter (except to Zab, who took a reported $2 million pay cut as a result). If either boxer wins convincingly, it won’t matter if he’s recognized as champ. The winner won’t need Baldomir and his belt. Any other boxer who wants a big fight (and presumably a title) would naturally call out Judah or Mayweather. How much money is there to be made fighting Baldomir?

The heartbreaking aspect to all of this is that the world champion, Carlos Baldomir, has been relegated as insignificant. Sure, a contender with no hope of getting Mayweather or Judah in the ring would love to get his hands on that WBC strap as a bargaining chip. But Baldomir’s only hope for cashing in is to find a contender whose promoter wants to move him into position to fight Judah or Mayweather. The big money guys in the division don’t need him.

By my standards, Baldomir did everything right.  He told the IBF what it could do with its sanctioning fee, knowing that a victory over Judah meant that he would be champ – regardless of what Ms. Knight and Co. say. I love it when boxers stick it to the sanctioning bodies.

However, it looks like the IBF will have the last laugh as it will collect a far greater sanctioning fee from Judah – Mayweather than they would on any three Carlos Baldomir fights.

In this age of multiple world champions, I completely buy into the idea that the man makes the title, not the other way around. I don’t care who does or who does not recognize Antonio Tarver as their titlist. He is the champion of the world.

So is Carlos Baldomir. But try telling that to him while he’s shelling out the $49.95 to watch Mayweather and Judah get it on.

Jabs

• I am not excited by the upcoming Vargas – Mosley fight. A few years ago this would have been important. It’s not quite as bad as Jones – Hopkins. Of course, they probably make more money for fighting each other than they would fighting a guy like Roman Karmazin for the championship.

• Chris Byrd is insane if he thinks he’s coming back from Germany with his title, considering that he doesn’t have the power to knock out Klitschko. There is no way he will get a decision. Klitschko is enormously popular in Germany. Even if Byrd is winning clearly, the first time he gets hit hard and stumbles, the ref will stop the fight. Byrd is the gutsiest heavyweight of our era. I hope his title reign doesn’t come to an end as a result of thievery.

• I don’t watch reality TV, but I can’t wait for The Contender to come back. While the show was heavy on cliché, it did expose the public to some new boxing personalities – and that’s what boxing needs. Creating emotional bonds with boxers is what drives popularity in the sport.

Until next time, obey my commands and protect yourself at all times.

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