Exclusive Interview: IBO
President Ed Levine
(March 31, 2009 - By G. Leon with BoxingTalk.com)
GL: The IBO has several big events coming up, why don't you fill us in and let us know what they are? "The biggest event, it looks like it might be the biggest fight of the year, is Hatton-Pacquiao. To say that it's been eagerly anticipated would be an understatement. Boxing fans all around the world want to see that one, for the IBO title as well as for pound-for-pound. We're really excited about that tremendously. Then we have Klitschko-Haye, on June 20th. We just confirmed yesterday we have Anthony Mundine versus Daniel Geale. Those may not be household names here, but that is a very huge fight in Australia. You've got the old versus the new, Geale holds the IBO title. This is a huge major test for him, against a proven two-time [WBA] champion. It's a big fight for us as well."
GL: Are Tarver and Dawson still fighting for the IBO?
Ed Levine: We have Tarver-Dawson as well. It's been sanctioned and the rematch is scheduled for May 9th, also a big event. Those are the four marquee fights that we have coming up, all exciting, all mainstream. It's something we like to be thought as.
GL: It's always a goal for a sanctioning body to have the best fighters in the respective divisions fight for a title. You have that now in a short stretch of time. Are you hoping that these events lead to the IBO getting the same kind of recognition that the percieved four major sanctioning bodies get?
EL: Greg, our feelings on recognition are that we've always put respect before recognition. When you talk about recognition and sanctioning bodies, recognition, and respect, and responsibility, they don't always equate to the same thing. In fact, they're mutually exclusive wehn it comes to sanctioning bodies. We've always felt that if we get the respect first, by telling the truth, by having honest ratings, by doing the right thing, if we get that respect then the recognition will eventually come. We're hoping that they go together the respect, the recognition, and the responsibility to the sport. Our goal has always been to be transparant, to tell the truth.
GL: Do you think that removing the human element from the rating system will help the IBO achieve this level of respect?
EL: I've always said that any savvy boxing writer could do a top ten that's as good as, if not better than the IBO computer ranking. When it comes time to rank all of the fighters, for the purpose of making a mandatory, for the purpose of really seeing where the challenge is placed in rankings, that's where we feel the IBO stands up. We're not leading fighters around with promises of rankings, you can't buy a computer a drink, or something worse. We feel that when you see one of our challengers is ranked, we're not just throwing them in the top ten, they really are ranked there. For that matter, for a fighter to be eligible for the IBO, even though a top 35 sounds like a lot, it's really not. If you compare challengers in other sanctioning bodies, you've got about sixty-five to seventy-five that have a ranking of 10 or 12, which the computer doesn't seem to find.
GL: How does the computer ascertain the ranking?
EL: The computer has a very well developed program, right now it's approaching fifteen years of development, hundreds of factors in it. Essentially, the first and foremost thing is, you are who you beat. The computer just looks at wins. The second factor is you climb up on the computer by who you beat, and what level they're at. You could win thirty-five fights in a row, and be 35-0 and not be in the top 100. You've got to be quality fighters to move up in the computer. You've got to be fighters who beat fighters who were above you to move up, beating fighters ranked below them won't help them move up that well. It measures unanimous decisions, knock outs, rounds, beating fighters who were on the offense, or defense, there are a lot of factors invovled.
GL: Have you ever tried to get the computer to pick fights?
EL: No. Although I expect that some of the betting sites overseas always want to be linked to us, which we won't do. I think that some of the people who bet on fights use the cmputer more than they do emotion. Which is pretty accurate when you see a fighter who's #80, fighting #20, it's almost a given that #80 loses to #20, regardless of their name or reputation.
GL: Can you talk about how equally important it is to get some of these big names to fight for the title, but to have them keep the title and campaign as the IBO champion?
EL: The public opinion is the hardest thing for us to overcome. We're the new kid on the block, and it's very easy to critcize in boxing. Unless you've been watching the sport with rose colored glasses on, you know what's going on in the sport. It's still very hard to overcome public opinion. Boxing does not need another sanctioning body. So the marquee fighters can stay with the IBO, because they make the title, rather than the title making the fighter. When you have a Klitschko, Tarver, Dawson, or Hatton, they can stay with the IBO title, because they don't need to do the boxing business they way it's done on some of the lower levels. We're pretty sucessfull in major, and marquee fighters staying with us. It becomes a problem with some of the lessser known champions, because they can make more money with one of the, using your term, more recognized sanctioning bodies. That's something that we have overcome over time, by people recognizing that we are different. We do not bring to the table the same business model that the other sanctioning bodies do, it is a totally different model. We don't impose mandatories unless the champion is not fighting quality opposition. We have imposes mandatories when the champion is not fighting quality opposition. They've got to fight, they can't just sit back, and not defend their title, they have to fight.
GL: Give me some closing thoughts for the fans.
EL: I just hope that they enjoy the moment, because it's a fantastic springtime for boxing. Those people who think boxing is not doing well, I look at some of these fights, and see the number of fans, and the buys on PPV, you'll see that it's not the case.