Sunday, October 11 marked the third anniversary of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. Traditionally speaking, it’s the leather anniversary. We’d prefer to ignore the modern gift idea devised by librarians at the Chicago Public Library, namely glass. We neither live in such a house nor have such a jaw. The leather anniversary. That’s more like it. Leather doesn’t shatter and, when put to good use, it can dent a septum now and then. We have striven to do just that, with affection, on behalf of thinking boxing fans around the world. Our mission is threefold: provide weekly rankings that are trustworthy and authoritative, identify the true champions, and convince boxing that common sense is making a comeback.The board began in 2012 with twenty-five independent boxing writers and historians representing twelve countries around the world. We’ve grown since then. The number of members now matches Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s number of wins at forty-nine. We’re on five continents representing sixteen countries and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.On October 11, 2012 we published the first edition of our rankings. On Tuesday we’ll publish the one hundred forty-ninth edition.
The rankings are the product of a weekly process that begins every Sunday when record- keepers Mauricio Salvador of Mexico and Ken Pollitt of the United States email results of the previous week’s fights to the three chairs. (Filipino Retech Son, our third record-keeper, monitors inactive fighters approaching the one-year mark of removal.) After considering the week’s bouts and exits, the chairs come up with proposals for rankings changes which are then posted on the board’s forum. Over the next three days, members weigh in to accept, debate, and/or advance their own proposals during a process that is both efficient and democratic. The product is published every Tuesday without fail.
The product has not been without critics. Ranking boxing’s best fighters and presenting them to the world is an invitation for opposing viewpoints, so it’s to be expected. It’s also welcomed; before the rankings are published they must be banged-out by strong and disagreeable minds coming to virtual blows over placements. If the feedback received at www.tbrb.org is any indication, these battles royal on the board’s forum may be best practice for high-quality rankings. In fact, we have been pleasantly surprised at how readily thinking fans have embraced this initiative from day one:
“I just want to say thank you and good luck,” a fan posted only hours after our inaugural rankings were published. “[T]his is exactly what boxing needs to start to repair the damage it has done to itself and to start the long journey of rebuilding the greatest sport.”
“Love the new rankings!” said another. “Just when I thought that there would never be an entity whose rankings I could subscribe to with any confidence this board is established.”
“This is a great service to the boxing community, well done!”
“I really hope that your organization takes hold and helps reform boxing. I’ve been a boxing fan for about 30 years.”
“TBRB is revolutionary and despite the cynical view many have of boxing’s future, TBRB is a beacon of light towards reforming the sport we all love.”
“This is just a fantastic effort … I wish HBO, ESPN, and others would adopt your rankings.”
“It pains me when I see the state of what [boxing] has become… Something like this has been needed for a long time. ”
“I really like what the TBRB is doing and direct my fellow boxing fans to find your rankings…”
The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ’s mission is one of service to the sport. In an era where the concept of “champion” has been devalued, where boxing historians sift through byzantine lineages of titlists and only confuse themselves, we have systematically identified the reigning true champions —the divisional kings™. Click on the “Successions” tab at www.tbrb.org to see who they are and how they got there. Click on the “Charter” tab and be assured that they earn their status by combat, not by appointment or political machinations; that they must either defeat the previous champion or, if the throne is open, they must defeat the next-best contender in the top two.
We have repudiated the idea that modern boxing politics precludes such a strict #1 vs. #2 criterion when it comes to open thrones. Whereas three years ago we recognized a total of four true champions, we crowned four more by the time of our first anniversary and topped the total off at nine last May when the first-ranked Mayweather defeated second-ranked Manny Pacquiao. Since then, Danny Garcia abdicated the jr. welterweight throne and Mayweather officially retired and left the welterweight and jr. middleweight thrones open. Click on the “Rankings” tab to see which top-two contenders are poised at the brink of royalty. Feel encouraged; only eleven matches need to happen for boxing to have a full roster of divisional kings. There were eleven matches at Manchester Arena Saturday night. Judging by our well-documented tendency to point to boxing’s golden past, it may be assumed that we’re a fraternity of old fogies. But don’t be fooled; the average age of our membership is thirty-nine and the range is college-age to retirement-age, which means we have both the agility of youth and the experience of years on our side. How else could we reach back into history, take hold of an informal term like “robbery” and formalize it to address the problem of bad judging? The robbery clause in the charter strikes a balance between due discretion and innovation and we didn’t stop there. Other pressing issues in the sport have since been addressed with new clauses in the charter:
* No Decision/No Contest (February 2014). After a legitimate official authority declares a bout a “No Decision” or “No Contest,” the fighters will return to the rankings they held going into the bout. Under certain circumstances, the Board may adjust the rankings, though not the order of said fighters, to reflect performances before the bout was ended.
* Inactive champions (August 2015). If a champion is inactive in his division, attempts will be made to contact the champion/designee for an official announcement or clarification of his intentions. If none is forthcoming and the champion has not defended his throne after 18 months, and the first- and second-ranked contenders meet, then the official winner may become the rightful successor.
* Performance-enhancing drugs (September 2015). If a contender fails a drug test conducted by a legitimate regulator or a contracted independent testing body (i.e. is found to have used a performance-enhancing drug or masking agent) or is otherwise found to be in gross violation of the rules and is suspended as a result, the board will summarily remove the contender from the rankings. The contender will have to earn reentry at the end of the determined length of suspension. Successful appeals will be honored and mitigating circumstances considered by the chairs.
Common sense is poised to make a comeback in boxing. We need your support. Spread the word about an organization that asks nothing in return and rankings that Teddy Atlas said are the only ones to trust.
Convince your friends and your friends’ friends to do the same. Consider lacing up a pair of gloves and denting a septum or two if reasoning fails. We can’t bail you out or pay your fine (we’re volunteers after all) but we’d appreciate such an apt observance of our third anniversary.