The vacant Ring Magazine championships

I decided to list the current Ring Magazine champions on the left sidebar for a simple reason: I want all novice or casual boxing fans that happen to visit BLH to know the difference between "champion" and "titleholder" or "titlist" when I talk about the sport's belt-carrying fighters.

While it might seem preposterous to those less in the know that a magazine, of all things, should hold the most sway, it's the fact of the matter. Boxing needs and will never get a central promoting organization. The Ring is the best we have.

But it's also worth noting that with this distinction, seven of boxing's seventeen weight classes have a vacant championship.

According to Ring rules, "Championship vacancies can be filled by winning a box-off between The Ring’s number-one and number-two contenders, or, in certain instances, a box-off between our number-one and number-three contenders."

So what are the fights that could be made?

Heavyweight: Wladimir Klitschko v. Samuel Peter

These two, of course, have fought before, and it was a good one. Peter knocked Klitschko down three times but lost via decision. The public has wanted a rematch ever since, but instead we've been treated to masterpieces like Klitschko-Austin, and Peter has been forced to chase and chase the WBC title with two qualifying wins over James Toney and then a series of setbacks that delayed his bout with Oleg Maskaev forever, until finally he knocked him out this March in Cancun. Now, Peter is being forced to defend the WBC strap against Vitali Klitschko, who hasn't fought in years and has failed to make it through a training camp on more than one occasion without injury.

The truth is, we're not close at all to seeing a Wlad-Sam rematch. Wladimir has two mandatories to concern himself with, as he'll face Tony Thompson in July and then has Alexander Povetkin waiting in the wings. Peter is busy with Wladimir's brother for now, and is also trying to get a stay active fight signed before their alleged October date. It's too bad that the division most still cling to as boxing's "money" class -- which is is absolutely not, sorry -- is such a mess, but that's just the way it is, has been, and will continue to be. It cleared up slightly after Klitschko beat an embarrassing Sultan Ibragimov in February, but that was a mere footprint on the world's largest beach.

Junior Middleweight: Vernon Forrest v. Verno Phillips

Another fight unlikely to happen, since no one cares about Verno Phillips and he was gifted a decision win over Cory Spinks, anyway. Phillips deserves a No. 2 ranking about as much as he deserved that win, which is to say not at all. Spinks clearly beat him, in my view, and I'm not one for rooting to see Cory Spinks win.

Oscar de la Hoya is ranked No. 3, but he's rather irrelevant to the discussion. But the fact that The Ring ranks Phillips over de la Hoya is another rather moronic decision, perhaps influenced by the fact that Golden Boy owns the magazine now, and Oscar didn't want it to seem like there was favoritism being shown to him. Outside of Oscar, Forrest and Spinks probably remain the sport's two best 154-pound fighters. Forrest is set to defend his alphabet title against Sergio Mora, and I don't know what Phillips plans to do next. He's lucky to even be in the discussion.

Featherweight: Robert Guerrero v. Chris John

John will never dare to fight Guerrero, and I think this might be one of those instances where The Ring would allow for Guerrero to decide the vacant championship against the No. 3 ranked boxer, Jorge Solis. Why Solis is ranked ahead of Steven Luevano is a bit of a mystery, but Solis is a fine fighter and a Guerrero-Solis matchup would be OK by me.

Bantamweight: Hozumi Hasegawa v. Veerapohl Sahaprom

These two have fought twice before and Hasegawa beat him both times. Sahaprom being ranked No. 2 is a joke. Look, I know some folks get really into the Thai fighters with the big records, but they're such a myth. These guys don't fight anybody. I don't consider BoxRec.com to be the best ranking system in the world, either, but they have Sahaprom at No. 17 in the division, which is far more realistic than No. 2. Sahaprom has scattered decent wins on his 61-3-2 record, but nothing eye-popping. It's a sham. Wladimir Sidorenko is ranked third, and I think Hasegawa-Sidorenko is the much more genuine championship fight. Hell, Hasegawa against Gerry Penalosa would be a better proving ground for Hasegawa. I could name 10 or 20 guys I'd rather see Hasegawa fight than Sahaprom.

Bonus tidbit: Sahaprom holds the active record for weeks in a division's rankings for The Ring, with 658 weeks in the bantamweight top ten. Joe Calzaghe at super middle is second, with 576, but will likely soon be removed. That would make Antonio Tarver (505 weeks at light heavyweight) the new No. 2.

Super Flyweight: Cristian Mijares v. Fernando Montiel

Yes. Absolutely. No doubt about it. The Ring had Montiel at No. 1 and Alexander Munoz at No. 2 before Mijares beat Munoz, and now Mijares has jumped to the top spot, knocking Montiel down a peg. With Mijares having dispatched of Munoz, this is a no-brainer: the best fight at 115 pounds is Mijares against Montiel, who beat the crap out of Martin Castillo on the Pavlik-Taylor II undercard. It'd be a superb fight, and one that should be on every boxing fan's wishlist at this moment.

Flyweight: Nonito Donaire v. Daisuke Naito

Won't argue with this one, either. Donaire has yet to capitalize on his wave-making win over Vic Darchinyan last year, fighting just one time since, dominating Luis Maldonado. A bout with Naito would do bang-up business in Japan, most likely, and would crown a true champion. I say bring this one on, too.

Strawweight: Yutaka Niida v. Florante Condes

I would currently rank Condes as the best 105-pounder, I suppose, but it's such a tough division to follow and so infrequently do the best fight the best.

You might be wondering if I have any point here. Not really, no.

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