• Steve Bunce

Boxing's parallel universe

Steve Bunce February 4, 2014
Audley Harrison beat Julius Francis to retain his World Boxing Foundation heavyweight title in 2004 © Getty Images

The news is that the International Boxing Association, the International Boxing Council and the International Boxing Union all have vacancies for a heavyweight world champion.

The other news is that the World Boxing Union, the World Boxing Federation and the World Boxing Foundation all have heavyweight champions of the world.

Welcome to boxing's twilight zone, a parallel universe where the Klitschko brothers are as remote as the pictures of the 12 men that once walked on the moon.

Buncey's Vault

Robbie Regan was in reflective mood © PA Photos
  • A few days before Robbie Regan fought for the WBO bantamweight world title I went with him, his wife Amanda and his friend Roy to the Penallta Colliery. I wrote: 'It was Regan's decision to stop at the colliery. Roy worked here for 25 years. "It closed 5 years ago and he helps me now in the gym".'
  • Amanda told me that she thought Robbie would be retired at that point, having been British champion five years earlier.
  • Regan was in a reflective mood up in the Welsh hills. "It's been so hard." The year before he had lost a world title fight and the WBO bantamweight fight against Daniel Jiminez really was his last chance. He was a massive underdog against Jiminez, who just the year before had lost on points in a world title fight to Marco Antonio Barrera.
  • I said he needed to produce his 'greatest display' to win - he did and he won. However, his bad luck continued and he failed a routine scan and never fought again.
  • Reported in The Daily Telegraph, April 26, 1996

There are, I'm not kidding, other sanctioning bodies that hand out their belts to big men for winning their heavyweight titles; even I have to draw the line somewhere. Boxing has always been a bit crazy, open to the lunatic fringe, the criminal hardcore and the greedy, but the netherworld of alternative and licensed sanctioning bodies is truly extraordinary.

There are currently 62 boxers holding a belt sanctioned by the WBFederation, including their very own heavyweight champion of the world. Step forward Cameroon's Carlos Takam, a veteran of 31 fights, with 29 wins, and the world champion of the heavyweights according to this WBF. Takam beat Michael Grant in May last year to win the title in the eighth round; in 2000 Grant lost to Lennox Lewis in a world heavyweight title fight in boxing's other galaxy.

However, Takam can, make no mistake, fight and last month fought a 10-round non-title fight with Cuban exile Mike Perez, who some consider a future world champion. Takam got a draw and many thought that he was unlucky not to get the verdict.

The WBFoundation's new heavyweight world champion is Mark de Mori, an Australian based in Croatia, and he is also the WBU's new heavyweight champion. There is, I'm reliably told, a complication with the WBU, which was formed by a legendary British boxing figure called Jon Robinson and took shape above his florist's shop in Bethnal Green. The WBU at the moment is referred to as 'the German one'. Anyway, de Mori is their champion. I think it is safe to say that Robinson's family, who tried to sell the WBU name a few years ago, do not recognise de Mori.

The heavyweight history of the WBFederation includes a trio of fights for Sheffield's finest, Johnny Nelson. He won it in New Zealand, defended in Thailand and lost it in Brazil. Nelson also won the WBU heavyweight championship of the world one night at York Hall. Evander Holyfield and Joe Bugner also held the WBFederation world heavyweight title. But, Audley Harrison was the WBFoundation champion. I wonder, does Audley get invited to conventions to sit on the top table and get introduced as a world heavyweight champion?

Is it just me, or would we all like to see de Mori and Takam sort this crazy-like-a-crazy-fool situation out once and for all; it is about time we lost one of the Fs.

The WBU gained an historic place in boxing folklore when one of their representatives gave their inaugural WBU heavyweight championship of the world belt to George Foreman at Los Angeles airport back in 1995. Honest. Big George wore that belt with pride and made three defences. I look forward to more and more champions.

I did warn you that this was a story from a galaxy, far far away....

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Steve Bunce Close
Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.