By George Gigney


THERE is a fascinating debate among some in boxing – and all combat sports, actually. It’s to do with weight classes, and it centres around one question: what is more impressive, becoming a champion in several weight divisions, or dominating a single one for years on end?

Those who feel the former is the more impressive feat would argue that it’s harder to move up in weight several times and beat world class fighters, as you’ll likely be giving up advantages in size and power. And that makes a lot of sense.

Indeed, if we look at the most celebrated fighters of the past couple of decades – Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and currently Canelo Alvarez – they all became champions across various divisions and were lauded for it. Many of the sport’s burgeoning stars, the likes of Gervonta Davis and Devin Haney, have already claimed ‘world’ titles at various weights.

But there is something to be said of planting your flag in a single division and refusing to give ground to anyone, proving yourself the absolute best in the world at that weight. Particularly if you ask Joe Calzaghe.

In an interview with BoxingScene, Calzaghe – who held ‘world’ honours at super-middleweight for a decade between 1997 and 2007 – said: “I could have moved up in weight… but, legacy-wise, me staying at that weight and winning all the belts… I’m old school: ‘Be the best in your division.’”

He’s got a point, hasn’t he? We’ve seen countless examples of a ‘world’ champion choosing to move up in weight to claim another belt against a fighter nowhere near as good as the challengers in the champion’s initial weight class. That’s a criticism that’s been levelled at Davis by many, for instance.

There’s something far more impressive about staying in one division and fending off the challenges of the best fighters operating in it. And, of course, collecting all the various baubles from the different sanctioning bodies. Look at Oleksandr Usyk: he ran through the cruiserweight division, beating everyone of note and becoming undisputed champion. When he made the move to heavyweight, there was no one left for him to defeat at 200lbs. In an ideal world, that should be the only time a champion moves up.

Plus, if a fighter were to stay in a single weight class and try to prove themselves the best in it, logic would dictate that it’s a healthy weight for them to be fighting at. If more boxers did that, there would be fewer of them dangerously boiling themselves down to make weight or, alternatively, going up against fighters much bigger than them.

When the rematch between Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall was first confirmed, the response wasn’t overwhelmingly positive. Their first fight – which absolutely warranted a second – took place more than two years ago and Taylor has lost to Teofimo Lopez since then. So much of the controversy and heat from their first meeting seemed to have dissipated and many fans just seemed annoyed that it had taken so long to get the rematch agreed.

However, this past week has given the fight a real shot in the arm. Both Taylor and Catterall took part in a press conference to launch the promotion of the fight and things got particularly fiery. Insults were thrown, the pair had to be physically separated and there was a lot of tension in the air.

That all might sound par for the course with most fights, but there’s genuine needle between Taylor and Catterall. They really do not like each other. Something about this has really caught the public’s attention, and not just boxing fans – more casual sports fans as well. The fight sold out in under a day and clips of the presser have gone somewhat viral on social media.

It might be because it’s been a long time since there’s been a fight between two fighters from the UK with so much legitimate animosity, a true rivalry. This one comes with the baked-in story of all the questions surrounding the first fight, with many people feeling like Catterall was robbed of victory on the judges’ scorecards. Comparisons have been made to the two fights between Carl Froch and George Groves, and while Taylor-Catterall isn’t on the same scale there is undoubtedly some shared DNA.

And for those complaining that there are no titles on the line, please have a quiet word with yourselves. These are two of the top fighters in the division looking to settle a score – there are plenty of reasons for both of them to want to make a statement after the first fight. Really, how much value would a sanctioning body trinket add?

Speaking at a private event, Andre Ward was asked about the possibility of boxing moving to a “UFC model” wherein one organisation essentially runs the sport. After saying that would be “a little too much control,” Ward opined: “It would have to be a person with billions of dollars to get all the promoters to agree to come under that.

“There are too many egos in boxing, from the promoters to the managers, to agree to just let one person run it.”

It’s an interesting take from Ward, who spent years of his own career battling for free agency and personal control. And while there are undoubtedly plenty of inflated egos within boxing, money does talk at the end of the day.

Look at how Saudi Arabia has gotten the likes of Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren to work together. If the Saudi government wanted to create a monopoly in boxing, all they’d need to do is find everybody’s price.

Andre Ward (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Boxing on the Box

March 1

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Channel 5

Coverage begins at 9pm

March 3

Amanda Serrano-Nina Meinke


Coverage begins at 12am

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Sky Sports Action

Coverage begins at 1am