Thursday, September 21, 2023  |


The WBA cleans up its act at the top level, but the dirt remains under the rug

Fighters Network

It is always great to know that boxing is on its way to becoming less polluted with dozens of worthless title belts that do nothing but dilute the value of a true boxing championship.

In that regard, the news that the WBA now has cleaned up its act in 12 of the 17 current divisions to name only one world champion per weight class is definitely a good start.

Not a bad job. Clean, spotless.

Now, let’s take a look at those weird lumps under the carpet, shall we?

Oh, dear…

Well, as much as it is great to have one champion per division, the problem of having dozens of worthless regional titles serving as “toll fares” in the form of mandatory sanctioning fees with a high minimum for fighters on the rise is still there.

And those titles are here to stay, in the WBA and in every other sanctioning body out there.

The recent rants and temper tantrums thrown around by fighters like Errol Spence Jr. and Jermall Charlo regarding the expense of the sanctioning fees paid by a unified champion raised the alarm through the entire industry. And when the top-earning job creators are uncomfortable, everyone takes notice.

When the low-paid laborers who have no say in the discussion raise their voices, however, very little is done.

It is a simple mathematical operation: the system is rigged to benefit the rich, everywhere, and boxing is no exception.

Sanctioning fees are supposed to represent 3% of a fighter’s purse but are capped at around $250.000. Thus, any champ making more than 10 million dollars per fight will be paying less than 3% of his purse to the sanctioning body du jour, unless he’s fighting for more than one title.

But on the lower end of the pay scale, sanctioning fees have a minimum, while there is no minimum purse or payment for a fighter fighting for that title.

In that case, if you want to opt for a regional belt ranging from the NABA title (North American Boxing Association) to the Fedebol belt (Federación Bolivariana de Boxeo, which includes countries in which freedom fighter Simon Bolivar fought back in the days of South America’s struggle for independence) the fees for those fights are about $300 US dollars at a minimum, per fighter. This means that in order for that amount to represent 3% of their purse, the fighter in question should earn at least $10.000 for that fight. Right?


And by that, I mean that the math is right.

Everything else isn’t.

If you’re a fighter who has fought for one of such titles (including the non-French speaking fighters who have fought for the Francophone title, or those who fought for Caribbean or Central American titles without ever setting one single foot in any of those countries) you know that your take was significantly less than that. You’d be lucky to get half of that amount, in most cases. And in women’s fights, it’s not even close, even for world title fights.

Sure, you can opt out of those “title bouts” and continue your march towards greatness without them, right?

No. Not really.

Choose not to fight for those at your own peril, especially if you want to be ranked (note: every fighter wants to be ranked) by the sanctioning body in question. Try asking the WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO and everyone in between to rank you in their top 50 without ever fighting for a vacant/silver/diamond/interim/regional belt, ever. Good luck to you, sir/lady.

Sure, when (and especially, if) you get to the world championship level, you will only have to worry about defeating only one foe to become the one and only champ, and you will pay only one reasonable sanctioning fee.

The thousands of dollars that your promoter and your TV networks should have paid you, but which went instead to pay fees, travel expenses, referee and judges allowances and much more, are nowhere to be seen.

Wonder where they went, do ya?

Check under the rug.


Diego M. Morilla writes for The Ring since 2013. He has also written for, and many other magazines, websites, newspapers and outlets since 1993. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He has won two first-place awards in the BWAA’s annual writing contest, and he is the moderator of The Ring’s Women’s Ratings Panel. He served as copy editor for the second era of The Ring en Español (2018-2020) and is currently a writer and editor for


The Canelo-Charlo clash is the cover story to the September 2023 issue of The Ring. Art by Richard T. Slone