Former Sheffield world champion Clinton Woods wants a shake-up across boxing to ensure more meaningful fights
Former world champion Clinton Woods, a long-term campaigner for fewer, but more meaningful belts across boxing, believes ring legend Marvin Hagler may have gone too far for calling for one champion per division.
Ex middleweight king Hagler laments the proliferation of world titles in the modern era. He was top dog of the 160lbs category from 1980 until 1987 when he retired after a controversial defeat to Sugar Ray Leonard having made 12 successful defences. The landscape is now splintered because of the four major sanctioning bodies which means there is often more than fighter boasting of supremacy in their weight class.
It is a scenario currently playing out among the heavyweights with WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, holder of the remaining belts, and his British rival Tyson Fury, the so-called lineal champion.
"I hope that before I pass that they restore this game and bring it back to only one champion in the world," the 64-year-old American said. "They have these three or four belts, I was only looking for one. Years ago all of us were fighting for one belt. Now you've got the WBA, the WBC, the IBF (and the WBO.) If a fighter loses a fight or loses a belt, they can always go to another organisation and try for that belt. It should be exciting if they bring back one champion (per division)."
Woods was IBF light heavyweight champion, from 2005 to 2008. He’d been central area, Commonwealth, British and European champion before then. The Sheffielder said he thinks there should be three world belts available but fewer side-attractions below that level, like Masters and International titles.
He didn't think at elite level just one championship would work in the modern sport and said WBC IBF and WBA would suffice. "They are the three top belts.”
Of those the WBC variety currently owned by Sheffield-trained Charlie Edwards at flyweight and once worn with pride by Ingle man Junior Witter - received most attention.
"But you look at all the top boxers, these days, what belt do they have over their shoulders? IBF!"
*Naseem Hamed held multiple world championships at featherweight, including the WBO title from 1995 to 2000; the IBF title in 1997; and the WBC title from 1999 to 2000.