Last May, a small cabal of boxing writers discussed an idea that had all the staying power of a cigarette butt under a shoe. The idea was to create a global rankings organization uncompromised by competing interests and hell-bent on restoring sense to a confused sport. The writers found enough common ground to usher the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board into its formative stages.
The first order of business was that it would not be a business at all—no accountant necessary, no belt commissioned, and no percentage of fighters’ purses pinched. The profit motive, that bête noir of all reform, was ditched to help keep it on the up-and-up. Before long, the founding members were dreaming about the golden era while visions of Sugar Ray danced in their heads.
Such highfalutin ideas could make recruitment difficult, and without an active membership the initiative would be a flicker in the wind. An incentive was needed. Minimizing the commitment of deadline writers and swamped record keepers, it was hoped, would be that incentive; so it was agreed that the rankings would be produced on a monthly basis. “Not weekly or ad hoc because this initiative may have to last, well, forever,” a founding member said at the time. “—And who wants to invite burn-out?”
Invitation letters went out, and soon, twenty-five members representing a dozen countries joined the Board. Their enthusiasm for the initiative was clear. The day after the maiden rankings were published in October, they began lobbying for precisely the commitment the founding members were reluctant to impose. Matt McGrain of Scotland and Vittorio Parisi of Italy led the charge for weekly rankings, though they were not the first to bring it up. In May, Stewart Howe supposed that “a monthly update frequency might be insufficient. We are living in such a fast-moving information age now, that the idea of something being 30 days out of date is a little old fashioned.”
Old fashioned. Old school. The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board is nostalgic enough to recognize the true thrones and rightful contenders; only now, you won’t have to wait for updates.
As this year’s calendar makes its way into the recycling bin and next year’s is downloaded on iPhones, we’re bringing you rankings beginning Tuesday and every Tuesday after that —forever, we hope.
The Transnational Boxing Rankings can be found at www.tbrb.org.