We love the silly belts here at weirdboxing as they give us so much to look at and laugh at. The newest of these silly belts is the WBO "Fighter of the Decade" title which we will see for the first (but hopefully not the last) time tonight as Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez do battle over it.
As we all know this will be the fourth meeting between Marquez and Pacquiao after the 3 previous contests all went to razor thin decisions (2 in favour of Pacquiao and 1 a draw). It's fair to say that after 36 rounds not much separates "The Pacman" and "Dinamita", in fact many will tell you it's just the 4 knockdowns (all by Pacquiao) that has put Pacquiao 2-0-1 against Marquez.
So what do we "like" about the WBO "Fighter of the Decade" title? Well for a start we are less than 30% into the decade! Yes it's not even 2013 yet but that doesn't stop the WBO from declaring a fighter of the decade. It's unfair to call them out on that though because lets be honest they've never had a fighter of the decade title for the the 90's or the 00's so they are simply making up for lost time!
Hopefully all the organisations follow suit then in the coming years we could have a "WBC Emeritus Fighter of the Decade title" a "WBA Super Fighter of the Decade title" and we could even have Fighter of the Decade Unification bouts and interim Fighter of the Decade titles!
Just imagine in 2022 having a 49 year old Juan Manuel Marquez coming out of retirement to face the next WBO Fighter of the Decade title holder to win the fighter of the 20 year title! I know I can't wait!
Hopefully Francisco "Paco" Varcarcel is reading this and realises I'm on to a good idea! We need more titles in this sport. If the WBO want to offer an "Overweight writing world title" I'm happy to go up for it against "Fat" Dan Rafael, I'd quite like to call myself a "boxing world champion"!
The WBO have long been seen as a bit of a joke organisation with weird rankings, poor champions and some bizarre decisions. In recent years however, thanks to the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Wladimir Klitschko, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez the WBO has become a bit of a genuine fixture on the world scene and has started to become more and more accepted as a genuine world title.
Sadly however the WBO have found a way to take 1 step forward, 2 steps backwards time and time again. The most recent example of their "2-steps back" is their November rankings in which they rank Scottish fighter and former WBO Featherweight champion Scott Harrison (27-2-2, 15) as their #11 at Featherweight.
Usually I'd have no problems with a former champion being ranked at a weight where they held a world title just 3 fights back (and never lost their belt in the ring). However things with Harrison aren't that straight forward. Last time Harrison held his world title may have only been 3 fights back, but that was over 6 years ago, and last time out Harrison weighed in well above the Featherweight limit, 145lbs. In fact in Harrison's two most recent fights he weight in at 134.75 and 145, the lightest of those being only a smidge inside the Lightweight limit.
Whilst I know we all make mistakes (something Harrison has done regularly away from the ring) the WBO's mistake here is simply laughable. I'm not sure if they expect Harrison to chop off his legs to face their Featherweight champion (Orlando Salido-what a fight that would have been if Harrison was near his prime), or have slipped him in their rankings as a way to allow him to fight for a title at 135lbs (against fellow Scot Ricky Burns), but whatever it is it's certainly suspect and more than a little bit "weird".
One thing all boxing fans will be fully aware of is the fact the title awarding bodies love to have multiple versions of "world titles" flying around the place. Whilst it's pretty obvious that the WBA are the biggest culprit with many divisions having a "Regular", an "Interim" and even a "Super" champion. Whilst we think that is pretty bad we've actually been made aware of the WBO going 1 step further and having 2 "interim" titles at the same time!
Back in the summer of 2010 Ivan Calderon was seen as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, he had been unbeaten in 35 fights (34-0-1) and was the reigning WBO Light Flyweight champion with a number of defenses behind him. Underneath him the WBO had an interim champion in the form of Filipino youngster John Riel Casimero. In June of 2010 Calderon defended his title against Mexican Jesus Iribe (UD12) then things started to get a bit weird at the WBO HQ.
Just weeks after Calderon v Iribe the WBO had their "Interim" title on the line as John Riel Casimero faced Ramon Garcia Hirales, Hirales managed to narrowly edge past Casimero to claim the "Interim title" and the logical idea would be to try and force Calderon v Hirales. The only problem with this is that the world of boxing is anything but logical.
Just weeks after Hirales had become the interim champion Calderon would lose his world title to Mexican slugger Giovani Segura (KO8) who unified the WBO title with the WBA title. Instead of then forcing Segura to face Hirales the WBO had a better idea and that was to allow Hirales to defend his interim strap against Manuel Vargas. Hirales was successful against Vargas (MD12) and it seemed like he had cemented his place as the "interim" champion. Sadly just 5 weeks later the WBO allowed Jesus Geles to face Omar Soto in a battler for the "interim" Light Flyweight title, the same one that Hirales had defended!
Geles managed defeat Soto (MD12) for the interim title bringing us to the situation of having 2 “interim” champions from the same governing body at the same time. What further complicated matters was the fact that Hirales was allowed to defend his “interim” title against the same Omar Soto who had lost to Geles, just weeks after the Soto Geles bout.
Thankfully the WBO cleared up the situation in February 2011 when Geles faced Hirales in what can only be considered a WBO “Interim” title unification bout. In a hard fought bout Geles controversially scored the split decision victory to unify the title belts.
Whilst this was confusing in terms of being an “interim” unification it was also confusing just on an activity basis. Between June 2010 and May 2011 the WBO Light Flyweight title, and the interims were fought for no less than 9 times (see below):
June 12th 2010-Calderon UD12 Iribe (“Regular” title)
July 24th 2010-Hirales SD12 Casimero (“Interim” title #1)
August 28th 2010-Segura KO8 Calderon (“Regular” title)
September 25th 2010-Hirales MD12 Vargas (“Interim” title #1)
October 30th-Geles MD12 Soto (“Interim” title #2)
December 18th 2010-Hirales UD12 Soto (“Interim” title #1)
February 5th 2011-Geles SD12 Hirales (“Interim” unification)
April 2nd 2011-Segura KO3 Calderon (“Regular” title) (Segura then vacated the title)
April 30th 2011-Hirales KO4 Geles (“Regular” title)
Thankfully the WBO finally got out of their own mess thanks to Segura moving up to fight at Flyweight.