Big Three Confab in Cancun

By Robert Ecksel on June 22, 2014
Big Three Confab in Cancun
Boxing’s Big Three, the WBC, WBA, and IBF are meeting in Cancun, Mexico, tomorrow.

“There’s a need to reestablish control of the sport, to bring credibility to how the fans look at the sport, because we have fallen into a numbed state…”

“Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.”—Deuteronomy 24:16

The Big Three has meant many things over the years. When the subject is universities, it means Harvard, Yale and Princeton. When the subject is television, it means, even in the age of cable, ABC, CBS, and NBC. When the subject is World War II, the Big Three refers to FDR, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin.

Politics, no less than education and TV, makes for strange bedfellows, a truism that applies to boxing as well.

Boxing’s Big Three, the WBC, WBA, and IBF are meeting in Cancun, Mexico, tomorrow. The confab was proposed by Mauricio Sulaiman, for reasons not heretofore revealed.

The skeptic studies human nature and is apt to think the worst. It’s easy to do, often irresistible, and not without justification. The idealist wants to shove cynicism aside in favor of cautious inquiry.

The media has been unhelpful about what this meeting entails. The WBC website, for example, had this to say:

Final preparations are ready for the meeting between the heads of the major world boxing sanctioning bodies; the meeting will be held in Cancun, Mexico this coming Monday 23.

The WBC, WBA and IBF will be all represented by their respective presidents and other members of their Boards of Directors and a comprehensive agenda has been prepared to address several important topics. The WBO declined the invitation to participate.

Yesterday there was a blurb on Fight News that was no less mysterious.

WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman has arrived in Cancun for the Boxing Summit talks. Sanctioning body leaders will meet for two days to discuss the state of world boxing.

“I am very happy to be again in this beautiful place and ready to begin this important event,” said Sulaiman. “I am certain that the heads of the three most important organizations in boxing, the WBC, WBA and IBF will meet with open mind and good will to make great things happen.”

I’m not opposed to generalizations in general. But vague pronouncements, however commonplace, are a poor substitute for facts. With that in mind I asked Mauricio Sulaiman about the confab in Cancun, its ostensible purpose, and his thinking going in.

“My father had been president of the WBC for 38 years and he always respected the other organizations and he was always clear on giving each their own due. When he passed away the Board of Governors elected me to be the President of the WBC. So one of the first actions I want to do is to sit down with the presidents of the other organizations and confirm the way the WBC would like to do relations with the boxing world.”

Mauricio Sulaiman is well-spoken but chooses his words with care, as any public figure with an ounce of sense might.

“But also,” he continued, “I believe that this is a time that boxing urgently needs some actions. There’s a need to reestablish control of the sport, to bring credibility to how the fans look at the sport, because we have fallen into a numbed state. When there’s a big fight, there’s great hype, it happens, and it goes somewhere else, England, Japan, Mexico. But the industry as a whole is losing credibility.

“One of the situations that would be very helpful, something that has been discussed in the past, is to try to move forward with a tournament between champions to finally end up with one champion in each division—which on paper is a proposal that we have worked on which seems fairly easy, but in reality could become complicated. If there is goodwill, if there is a way of sitting down and setting ground rules, I believe that would be a tremendous step forward to bring back to the public the intention of recognizing one world champion.”

Not having one world champion in each division has been disastrous. But if the above plan is implemented and a WBC champion defeated a WBA champion, for example, the WBA would no longer have a champion. That, if I’m not mistaken, would be a problem, a big problem, a seemingly insurmountable problem in a world where capital is king.

After sharing my misgivings, I asked Mauricio Sulaiman how his idea was received by the other sanctioning bodies.

“It has been just informally discussed,” he said. “We have an idea as to how this can be done which would include all the organizations participating in a world championship. Like in football, you have the NFC and AFC. Then they compete in the Super Bowl. But they continue to have their own activity separately. I have spoken with the three presidents and the WBA and IBF said they were willing to meet at any time. Mr. Varcarcel (of the WBO) doesn’t seem to think it is of any interest. But I’m willing to sit down and have a friendly approach and hopefully we can make it happen.”

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  1. Clarence George 03:39am, 06/24/2014

    I hear tell that neglected little brother, WBO President Francisco Valcarel, didn’t attend:  “We have had two meetings before,” he said.  “One in Dallas and another in Las Vegas, and nothing happened.”  Surprise, surprise.

    There was a time when everyone knew that, say, Sugar Ray Robinson was the Middleweight Champion of the World.  Today, there are four middleweight “champs,” and nobody outside the ever-shrinking number of boxing fans knows, never mind cares, who they are.

  2. Mateng 03:14pm, 06/23/2014

    I just wanna ask the writers opinion. With so many belts, weight divisions, and great fighters in each class. What’s the basis of being thee best pound for pound?  How can someone be the best among all of the other fighters when the fact is he have not faced the best in his own weight class,

  3. Eric 09:39am, 06/23/2014

    Less weight classes for sure. Those “super” and “junior” titles need to be trashed. The only extra weight class that ever made any sense was the cruiserweight class. It is just not realistic to ask a 185lb fighter to compete against the giants of today. Maybe they could readjust the weight limits and still have the 8 original weight classes. Move light heavy up to 190-195lbs or so, middleweight to 170lbs, etc. The weight classes for MMA are more in tune with the modern era. An athlete that competes at 205lbs is really is a light heavyweight in this day and age.

  4. Mike Casey 07:41am, 06/23/2014

    Eric and Clarence call it right. No, not the Big Three. Just three little twits in a toothpaste tube.

  5. Eric 07:17am, 06/23/2014

    The Big 3 used to mean Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. In the sportsworld, The Big 3 means the NFL, MLB, and NBA. Don’t believe any city has ever captured the triple crown of sports in the same year. New York came close, the only reason I know is that they beat my Colts in ‘69 Super Bowl, beat the Orioles in ‘69 World Series, and Knicks beat Bullets in the playoffs on their road to the ‘69-‘70 Finals. Those WBA, IBF, and WBC emblems would make a good cigar label, especially the WBA one.

  6. Clarence George 02:27am, 06/23/2014

    There’s no question that boxing is a devastated vineyard first and foremost because of each division no longer being represented by a single champion.  (And there should be only eight weight classes, but that’s another issue.)  Unfortunately, I think H.R. Haldeman was right when he observed that once the toothpaste is out of the tube it’s awfully hard to get it back in.

  7. Mohummad Humza Elahi 01:35am, 06/23/2014

    Very interesting;  as ever, it will all come down to money and unfortunately, that’s where I see it all stalling.  It’s great that at least the conversation is taking place, but root and branch reform would mean a lot of very well paid people being out of a job and the consequences of that are never positive.

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