Sometimes, "newbies" to boxing wonder why many of us, including this blog, are so against acknowledging titleholders in the WBC, WBO, IBF and WBA as "champions," and only doing that with the lineal championships, which are recognized by Ring Magazine. Part of the confusion may be that so many of them are vacant. There's also the goofiness of the lineal championship at 175 pounds, which really is held by Zsolt Erdei but thanks to a controversial Ring ruling during the Roy Jones era, isn't recognized.
Let me offer to those of you that question this tactic a very good reason. The World Boxing Organization (WBO) has a cruiserweight "championship." This title was last held by David Haye, who beat Enzo Maccarinelli (pictured) for the strap in a legit cruiserweight championship fight. Haye's WBC and WBA titles and Enzo's WBO title were on the line, but most importantly, Haye's lineal title was on the line. When Haye moved up to heavyweight, the titles (Ring, WBC, WBA and WBO) all went vacant.
On January 17, 2008, Victor Ramirez and Alexander Alexeev met in Düsseldorf for the interim WBO cruiserweight "championship." Why it needed to be interim is a fine question in and of itself. Interim coaches and managers in other sports make sense. They're stepping into a void that needs to be quickly filled because someone got fired or stepped down, but they may not stay there very long. It could be one game, it could be the rest of the season, and then management might make a change.
Boxing, of course, doesn't work this way. "Interim champions" are never going to be turned down from "defending" their "interim" title because the sanctioning body gets a nice, fat fee that way. There's nothing interim about it.
It just allowed them to also schedule this Saturday's Enzo Maccarinelli-Ola Afolabi fight as for -- you guessed it -- the "interim" WBO cruiserweight "championship."
Originally, Maccarinelli and Ramirez were going to face each other on this card, but it didn't come off. Replacing Ramirez is 28-year old Afolabi, born in London and now living in California.
To make this look good, the WBO has now promoted Ramirez to "full champion" status. Maccarinelli is ranked as the No. 1 contender by the WBO. Afolabi is ranked No. 2.
Afolabi being ranked No. 2 is typical of sanctioning body rankings, and this is why it burns my hide every time someone mentions these corrupt, idiotic rankings as anything worth being talked about. He has no business being ranked in the top two, top five, top ten, or top twenty.
Afolabi is 13-1-3 with five knockouts in his career. He turned pro in 2002, then after a 2005 win over 40-year old Orlin Norris, he was inactive until 2008. He came out of nowhere to upset Eric Fields last April, and that was a great story. But it doesn't make his record one deserving of this sort of distinction. The WBO woud tell you, "Well, the win over Fields gave him the coveted WBO NABO championship!" The only people in the world that truly covet the WBO NABO "championship" get paid by the WBO. Just another belt, just some more fees.
Afolabi has very little by way of legitimate, noteworthy victories. Maccarinelli may be overrated in many minds, but his ranking is fine. He's being given what promoter Frank Warren is hoping is a creampuff challenge, which will make Enzo a "champion" again, and set him up for a fight with "full champion" Ramirez if they actually have the balls to go through with it.
People talk about the corrupt B.S. in sanctioning bodies all the time. One time the WBO ranked a dead guy. More examples of this ridiculous crap from a few years back can be found here if you're still curious.
If you wondered why, this is why. Maccarinelli-Afolabi for the "interim" "championship" of the world. It's bad enough that they came up with the idea, but then they tried to justify it.