Tyson Fury Stripped

Tyson Fury Stripped Of IBF Title: Are Boxing Titles No Longer Relevant?

Tyson Fury has been stripped of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) title, which he won off long-time champion Wladimir Klitschko in a bout two weeks ago.

Despite the fact that Klitschko had successfully defended the belt 18 times prior to his fight with Tyson Fury, the IBF felt that it made more sense to give unbeaten (and some would say unproven) heavyweight Vyacheslav Glazkov a shot before letting Klitschko exercise his mandatory rematch clause.

The IBF claims to have a good reason for removing the title from Fury, whom boxing analysts now recognize as the true heavyweight champion in a division that has one other major titleholder (Deontay Wilder).

The Tyson Fury camp has claimed that contractually, it has no recourse but to give Klitschko his rematch, since it was a major stipulation of getting the first fight made.

In comments reported by Phil D. Jay of World Boxing News, IBF Chairman Lindsey Tucker had this to say regarding the organization’s controversial move.

“Regarding the Klitschko rematch taking precedence, it’s just the opposite as the mandatory [challenger] takes priority of the rematch. In fact Rule 3B Return Bout states: No contract for a championship contest shall contain any clause or provision, whatsoever, guaranteeing or in any way assuring or promising either contestant a return championship contest where such clause or provision interferes with the mandatory defense of the title.”

That explanation may exonerate IBF for legally stripping Tyson Fury of the title, but it does nothing to help the image of the organization, of boxing, or titles in general.

By staying so closely to the letter of the law, some feel the IBF is legalizing itself right out of legitimacy and taking a whole slew of other belts along with it. Just how many exactly?

BoxRec, in the eyes of many confused boxing fans, does “God’s work” by keeping up with the vast array of titles and champions across every weight class.

The website names five main alphabet organizations — the IBF, as well as the World Boxing Association (WBA), the World Boxing Organization (WBO), the World Boxing Council (WBC), and the International Boxing Organization (IBO).

In addition to these major organizational titles, each is divided into a number of subsets. Just looking at the IBF as an example, there is the IBF Australasian, Continental/Africa, East/West Europe, Inter-Continental, International, Latino, Mediterranean, North American, Pan Pacific, and World.

Multiply that times 17 weight classes, and you have a total of 170 champions just for one governing body. If you take all of the many titles in addition to the main five (USBA, NABF, UBF, etc.), the total belt count adds up to around 6,018.

With that many, it’s no wonder that even the most seasoned boxing fans have given up on assigning any real value to belts.

They have seen, far too many times, a champion win every belt legitimately in the ring only to be stripped for an arbitrary administrative reason shortly afterward. Tyson Fury is hardly an exception.

Nevertheless, the IBF plans to have a match between Glazkov and Charles Martin (22-0-1) to determine its new World Champion sometime in 2016.

Despite both fighters being talented up-and-comers, it will be difficult to assign legitimacy to either one until they step in the ring with the winner of the Tyson Fury-Wladimir Klitschko rematch.

In fact, the winner of that match will have a difficult time being recognized ahead of current WBC Champion Deontay Wilder, who won the belt against Bermane Stiverne following former champion Vitali Klitschko’s 2013 retirement.

In comments to Nick Parkinson of ESPN, Tyson Fury’s promoter, Mick Hennessy, summed up how a lot of boxing fans feel about the IBF’s decision and also shed light on why stripping Fury is a terrible idea for the organization.

“They shouldn’t be doing that, and as far as I’m concerned, if they want to hustle and bully Tyson into fighting Glazkov, Tyson will end up putting the belt in the bin at a major press conference. If they force Tyson to fight Glazkov, it will not happen. Glazkov means nothing; he has zero value.”

Love or hate Tyson Fury, do you agree with the IBF’s decision to strip him? Sound off in the comments section.

[Image via Tyson Fury/Twitter]