There was a time when Eddie Hearn was indifferent over the status of a WBA regular champion and completely disregarded the IBO titles. Not anymore.
Gone are the days when an Anthony Joshua press release wouldn’t mention the IBO championship. They now come fully incorporated with AJ as the four-belt ruler.
Hearn has warmed to the WBA regular considerably over the years despite previously questioning whether some previous holders were ever champions at all.
But lately, it’s the IBO title that’s taken particular significance for Hearn on the back of Leigh Wood becoming a WBA regular champion himself.
The latest example came in a press release announcing that Maxi Hughes had earned a Matchroom contract after winning what was effectively an audition to become a member of the DAZN club last Saturday.
In the information passed to WBN, Hearn laid his cards fully on the table regarding the IBO.
“I’m delighted to welcome the ‘Cinderella Southpaw’ Maxi Hughes to the Matchroom Boxing team,” beamed Hearn.
“It’s been an incredible year that has seen Maxi inflict shock upsets and incredible performances as he went on to pick up a piece of the 135lbs division on Saturday night.
“We feel there are plenty of more chapters left in this incredible story. We look forward to some big nights ahead live on DAZN.”
So, if Hearn’s mind, Hughes “picked up a piece of the division” – as in, he won one of the world titles.
Therefore, according to Hearn, we now have five sanctioning bodies [six world titles] to recognize from this point on.
This scenario came about is despite Hearn stating in December of last year that we should focus less on the belts. Adding that, organizations need to have less power than they currently hold over the sport.
Yet, Hearn has just become the only major promoter in the world [that we know of] to welcome and promote the International Boxing Organization as one of the global sanctioning bodies.
Frank Warren fighter and current IBF champion Sunny Edwards questioned the move.
He said: “What’s the current obsession with IBO titles on Matchroom shows?”
Fellow boxer Kieran Gething responded by saying: “Agenda, I think! I like the IBO title. But if Hearn gets it a lot of traction, it works out cheaper to sanction [I think].”
In the same breath, fans were with Edwards on the confusion side of things.
Taking Eddie Hearn’s new logic into account, we don’t have fewer belts – we have more. If we all share the same view, there are now WBA ‘super’, WBA ‘regular, WBC, WBO, IBF, and IBO straps.
All are recognized as world titles if you read through Matchroom press releases.
So, do we now have six belts, or don’t we?
The views expressed in this article are opinions of Phil Jay.