British terrestrial network ITV returned to professional boxing two years ago with the happy mantra of focusing on meaningful fights. Research had told them of the frustration and misconception the plethora of meaningless belts had caused. SKY TV, no longer committed to Frank Warren’s Sports Network group, also publicly announced that the previous acceptable notion of WBU, WBF, IBO (and others) title belts being required to make fights worthwhile was now extinguished and only ‘proper’ English, British, Commonwealth, European and World Title contests would be considered for broadcast. Hallelujah.
So commentator John Rawling’s announcement last night that the bout featuring Paul Smith was for the always vacant WBU Inter-Continental belt had me reaching for my MP’s address and a pen. The WBU Middleweight belt is held by Gary Lockett. Gary Lockett has never beaten a ranked contender, fought one or would even be recognised in a line up featuring only NBA All Stars by one. So the news Paul Smith was contesting a title designed for fighters outside the WBU’s top 15/20 strikes any fan with a semblance of respect as the most preposterous idea since the WBC contemplated open scoring and this writer suggested Ray Austin would beat Wladimir Klitschko.
I just wish we could dispense with the pantomime. Would the fight have meant less to anyone had it not had the bauble attached?
Paul Smith, who has some ability at 160 pounds, won in the eighth by the way.