For the Klitschkos, going titleless never looked so good
If nothing else, you have to give
They fight any and all challengers, and they emerge victorious virtually every time.
They have staggering knockout ratios and rarely need the judges to decide the outcome of their fights. They eschew pay-per-view dollars for the international exposure that comes with fighting on HBO, Showtime and, as was the case last Saturday, ESPN. And they do it all at heavyweight, a division in which the talent level has sunk to new lows and is often ridiculed for housing fighters who began their careers at one size and ate their way to another, such as
A glimpse at the various sanctioning bodies' ratings justifies the mockery.
In the IBF,
Unfortunately, the stench of the division has attached itself to the Klitschkos. And that doesn't sit well with either of them. "We just want to fight," said Vitali. "We want to make the fights that boxing fans want to see. What else can we do?"
There is one thing, but it's not the answer they're looking for: they can give up their belts.
Heavyweight is the only division in boxing in which the alphabet titles carry any relevance, and both Wladimir (who owns the IBF and WBO belts) and Vitali (the WBC titleholder) spoke extensively about bringing all the heavyweight titles home to the Klitschko family.
But can you name the title
The heavyweights love their belts. WBA champion
"[No titles] wouldn't have much impact on us," said HBO Vice President
Said Showtime Senior VP and General Manager of Sports and Event Programming
Being able to handpick an opponent is especially important for Vitali. At 37, he doesn't have too many more fights left in him. "I have no desire to break the record as the oldest heavyweight champion," he said. More importantly, the WBC is attempting to force Vitali to make a second mandatory defense against former titlist
Vitali says he has no interest in that fight, and he plans to make his case in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the hopes of overturning the WBC's ruling.
"Who wants to see that fight?" asked Klitschko. "Nobody in Europe or the U.S. wants to see it. The TV networks don't want it. It's not a fight any boxing fan wants to see."
The fight Vitali really wants is with up-and-coming
As a multiple titleholder, Wladimir is subject to the whim of two sanctioning bodies, which have forced fights with
"It's a little frustrating," said Wladimir. "I'm in the prime of my career. I want to stay busy. Fans want to see the best fights. I wish they could."
Ditching the belts won't solve the problems in the division, but it would be a step in the right direction. It would be a bold and difficult decision to make, but for too long, fighters have been at the beck and call of sanctioning bodies just for the right to wear a strap around their waste -- a strap that just doesn't matter much anymore.