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How We Rate Our Boxers

Historically, the rating of boxers is a king-size headache suffered by whoever is unfortunate enough to be tasked with this cumbersome and thankless exercise. It happens to the best, be it an individual, a select committee or an entire organization. The very nature of ratings themselves, them being the lifeblood of boxing, decides the careers of boxers and influences the plans of promoters, managers and trainers. Friends have been known to disagree. Foes have been forced to kiss and make up. Ratings have forced them to do business. Love them or hate, ratings are here to stay. You may as well get to know how they work.

One would define ratings as a system of evaluation or assessment of the boxer as against the others in terms of skills, experience and accomplishments. What makes it so unique is that it can neither be measured mathematically nor can it be proved scientifically. It is all in the eye of the beholder and needs a lot of knowledge of the boxers, understanding of the dynamics of the game, and fairness of the person or persons given the daunting task.

The challenge always lies with the criteria used to rate boxers. Boxers are rated in terms of their ACTIVITY, RECORDS, QUALITY of opposition, and their potential. How one defines the above mentioned criteria and whether those qualities weigh the same when it comes to the final placing of the boxer in the list of the best determines the final decision.

Point is, there is no particular order.
ACTIVITY in any terms is the state of doing or pursuing your practice. It is movement and liveliness in your chosen career. The education and experience acquired in the process is immeasurable and it shows among boxers. A more active boxer stands a better chance of being seen, analyzed and rated as he / she is more visible. What the eye does not see, the brain will not dissect and rate. That is why boxers are persuaded to take that walk to the ring as much as they possibly can. Activity has always been known to be the best teacher.

The record of the boxer contains the list of all opponents he has met in his career. QUALITY opponents with different styles give him extra advantage, exposing him to different skills and attitudes. That exposure bodes well for investing in the improvement of his skills, stamina and experience. Sometimes the boxer with fewer fights may have more improvement and experience than the one with more fights simply because of the quality of the opposition he has met on the way.

This brings us to the quality of opposition. QUALITY means an inherent or distinguishing character in a boxer. That quality may be the one that places him above the rest in terms of excellence or superiority. In boxing it may be a certain kind of style, a punch, experience, stamina, resilience, strength, extraordinary skills etc. A boxer who fights against some or all of those attributes in his record stands a better chance of learning and thus getting a better rating than one the who has a longer record or is unbeaten against inferior or nor so good quality opposition.

POTENTIAL means capability or possibility of doing or possessing. What one will have may not be in existence at the time, but performances may show an inherent ability to grow, develop or come into something. That trait can only be spotted in an active boxer who has been exposed to different quality opponents.

The old system of rating boxers and approving them for title fights simply because they have won Provincial titles or have beaten somebody in the ratings is a thing of the past. All boxers must go through a qualification system before they can challenge for the South African title, irrespective of whether they are rated in the top ten or not. This will empower the ratings and make sure that all boxers go through an experiencing and toughening process that will improve the quality of fights. Boxing South Africa introduced this new provision after having to endure a lot of mismatches in fights that were approved according to the status quo.

The whole problem emanates from Regulation 17(3) (a) of Boxing Act 11 of 2001 that allows any boxer in the top ten the right to fight for the title. The rating system as was drafted further rules that after losing in a championship bout or any fight while he is in the ratings, the boxer drops down no less than three notches depending on whether the loss was by knockout or points decision. If a boxer loses badly he drops five notches or even out of the ratings.

What the system does not address is firstly the quality of the fight itself, secondly, the quality of the opponent the boxer lost to, and thirdly the records, activity and abilities of the boxers underneath him who were fortunate to lose first and are now moving up at his expense. A good boxer of high quality usually finds himself dropping to below mediocre performers, some of whom last fought when they were beaten by the champion.

Experienced managers and promoters exploited this anomaly when choosing opponents for their champions during the voluntary defense period by going for the weakest opponents. This gave rise to a lot of mismatches that were bringing the noble art of fisticuffs into disrepute.

After noticing the compromising effect this practice was causing on the value, the impact and importance of our titles, Boxing South Africa introduced a new provision that has already forced for elimination series to decide a new champion. While not overlooking the fact that a beaten boxer must lose some of the status he enjoyed prior to his defeat, it should not be an automatic decision that every body under him is better quality.

The new provision makes sure that all boxers who challenge for the title must, firstly be rated in the top ten or appear in the list of International campaigners, secondly have beaten or drawn against another top ten rated boxer in the last eight months or thirdly, in the event of a boxer being listed in the International campaigner, he must have won at least one of his last two fights.

Exceptions to the above will be the former South African champions and World champions who have engaged in fights in the last eight months and have a clean and acceptable punishment index. This provision has resulted in Boxing South Africa calling for an elimination series to decide the new champion in the Junior Flyweight division. This happened when it was discovered that none of the rated boxers qualified to fight for the vacant title.

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