International Boxing Organization
International Boxing Organization


Attracting Prominent Champions
(IBO Editorial)

After defending his IBO light heavyweight title in October, Antonio Tarver suggested that more people in boxing should give the IBO "a good, hard look." It is apparent now that they are doing it. The IBO is set for perhaps the most significant, action-packed start to any year in its history.

IBO championships will be on the line in Germany, England, Australia, South Africa, Monte Carlo and, of course, the United States, as the only sanctioning body with computerized rankings exhibits clearly that its impact spans the globe.

Most conspicuously the IBO heavyweight title, vacant since the legendary Lennox Lewis retired on Feb. 6, 2004, will be at stake when Chris Byrd (39-2-1), No. 1 in the IBO computer, faces Vladimir Klitschko (45-3), ranked No. 4, on April 22 in Manheim, Germany.

Lewis is expected to be there to present to the winner the IBO title belt that he never lost in the ring. It figures to be quite an emotional moment. Also expected there to defend the family name is Vitali Klitschko, Vladimir's older brother, who, after retiring recently as a heavyweight champion, looks to see his brother become the next world champion.

The IBO has often been asked why it has left its heavyweight title spot vacant until now. The answer, from President Edward Levine: It has finally found the right fight that would do justice to the lofty esteem which Lewis established for the IBO Heavyweight title. Lewis fought for or held the IBO heavyweight title in an amazing eight fights spanning 1999 and his retirement.

The winner between Byrd and Klitschko will join a growing number of IBO champions who are recognized to be at the top or on their way to the top of their weight classes world-wide. They include Tarver, bantamweight champion Rafael Marquez and the winner between the March 4 super middleweight title fight between IBO champion Jeff Lacy and Joe Calzaghe in Manchester, England.

Other IBO champions who are in distinct ascent include middleweight Raymond Joval, Junior Welterweight Stevie Johnston, lightweight Isaac Hlatswago and flyweight Vic Darchinyan. Hlatswago defends his title against Aldo Rios on Feb. 25 in Johannesburg, South Africa, while Darchinyan puts his title at risk on March 3 in San Ynez, Calif., against Diosdado Gabi.
The IBO also has a quite promising heavyweight, Israel's Roman Greenberg, who is 21-0, fighting for its Intercontinental title on March 18 against Russian Alex Vassilev in Monte Carlo.

The veritable explosion of world-class boxers fighting for IBO recognition is partly the result of the IBO's belief that top-flight boxers, promoters and managers - the sport's truly frontline people -- need not have a sanctioning body dictate to them just whom they will fight next. They have discovered the importance of staying independent, which the IBO is unique in offering.
The IBO believes that television networks which emphasize boxing are in a better position than sanctioning bodies to match fighters in bouts that will attract the most public interest, and thus make for competitive fights. The IBO also gives latitude to its champions to determine their next opponent. It can exercise veto authority over a fight only when it may appear to be a mismatch, as suggested by computer rankings, or when a champion is avoiding top opposition.

This is in stark contrast to other sanctioning bodies, which often insist on playing matchmaker and decision-maker over a boxer's future. This obviously has resulted in much controversy within the sport when a champion is forced to fight what some call a "political mandatory," meaning a fight arranged for something far less than the best of reasons.

From its inception, the IBO's mandate has been to bring more honesty, ethics and credibility to boxing, and some common sense, too. It has been quite an undertaking to establish objective, comprehensive computerized rankings, but it clearly has been worth it. The IBO's computerized rankings remain the most copied source of information in the sport and a standard of judging talent in which all of those who truly care about boxing can be proud.

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