In professional boxing, the lineal championship of a weight class is a theoretical world championship title. It is initially held at some moment in time by a boxer universally acclaimed as the best in the class. Another boxer can win the lineal championship only by defeating the reigning lineal champion in the ring. The lineal champion is described as "the man who beat the man".[1][2] There is no single canonical list of lineal champions at any weight class, because there is no agreed method of what to do when the current champion retires or moves to a different weight class.

History[edit | edit source]

The concept was developed by boxing fans dissatisfied by the tendency of each of the various sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBA, IBF, etc.) to recognize different champions, and in particular to strip a champion of his title for refusing to fight its top-ranked contender. Prior to the 1970s, this rarely happened; the National Boxing Association (NBA) and the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) sometimes recognized different champions, but there was usually only a short interval before one champion defeated the other. The "lineal championship" is intended as a return to that era. Several top boxers have specified holding the lineal championship as a personal accomplishment (e.g., Mike Tyson & Lennox Lewis[3]) or goal (e.g., Nate Campbell[1]).

Issues[edit | edit source]

An issue in the implementation of a "lineal championship" is what to do if the lineal champion retires, dies, or moves to a different weight class. Different ways of resolving this vacancy mean the "lineal championship" may itself be subject to dispute. In the NBA/NYSAC era, a title vacancy was generally filled by having a box-off between 2, 4, or even more top-ranked contenders. Since the modern lineal championship is merely a notional title tracked by fans, there is no money or organization to arrange such box-offs, and there may not be consensus on who the top contenders are.[2]

One example given by Cliff Rold of BoxingScene is the light heavyweight title, considered vacant from the time Michael Spinks went up to heavyweight in 1985 until some time in the 1990s. While Rold considers Virgil Hill's defeat of Henry Maske as the beginning of the next line of succession, as does Cyber Boxing Zone,[4] Ring Magazine and HBO trace the title through Roy Jones.[5]

Another criticism of the lineal championship is that a fighter may defend it against inferior opponents. For example, George Foreman was considered lineal champion from 1994 till 1997, when Shannon Briggs beat him. After the WBA and IBF stripped him of their titles in 1995, Foreman fought only two, low-ranked opponents before Briggs.[2] The lineal champion is not necessarily the boxer viewed as the best.[1] BoxingScene considered Zsolt Erdei the lineal light heavyweight champion from his 2004 defeat of Julio César González until 2009, when he moved up to cruiserweight; as he had fought only low-caliber opponents in the interim, Cliff Rold conceded, "while the concept of a champion needing to lose a title in the ring is solid, the practice is sometimes highly flawed".[6]

Versions[edit | edit source]

The Ring magazine

The boxing magazine The Ring has its own lineal championship. The original sequence was from its first publication in the 1920s until its hiatus in 1989, continuing as late as 1992 in some divisions. When it started awarding titles again in 2001, it did not calculate retrospective lineages to fill in the gap years, instead nominating a new champion.[7] CBZ commented in 2004, "The Ring has forfeited its credibility by pulling names out of its ass to name fighters as champions".[8] In 2007, The Ring was acquired by the owners of fight promoter Golden Boy Promotions,[9] which has publicized The Ring's world championship when this is at stake in fights it promotes (such as Joe Calzaghe vs. Roy Jones, Jr. in 2008).[10] Since 2012, to reduce the number of vacant titles, The Ring allows fights between a #1 or #2 contender and a #3, #4, or #5 contender to fill a vacant title. This has prompted further doubts about its credibility.[11][12][13] Sports Illustrated used The Ring lineages for galleries of lineal heavyweight and middleweight champions.[14][15]

Cyber Boxing Zone

The Cyber Boxing Zone (CBZ) website maintains official lists of lineal champions, with input from Tracy Callis of the International Boxing Research Organization.[8][16][17] These were first published in 1994, and are retrospective to the introduction of Queensberry Rules in 1885.[17] The historical lists have sometimes been updated when new information about old fights comes to light.[18] If its lineal champion at one weight class moves to another class, CBZ does not automatically vacate his title.[19]

BoxingScene disagrees with the lineages given by The Ring and by CBZ, especially in lower weight divisions with a higher rate of champions changing division.[5] BoxingScene has traced its own most recent lineages, generally back to the 1990s.[20][21][22][23]

Transnational Boxing Rankings Board

The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB) was formed in October 2012 as a volunteer initiative to provide boxing with authoritative top-ten rankings, identify the singular world champion of every division by strict reasoning and common sense, and to insist on the sport's reform.[24][25] Board membership includes fifty respected boxing journalists and record keepers from around the world who are uncompromised by so-called sanctioning bodies and promoters. The board was formed to continue where The Ring "left off" in the aftermath of its purchase by Golden Boy Promotions in 2007 and the following dismissal of the editorial board headed by Nigel Collins.[26] After the new editors announced a controversial new championship policy in May 2012,[27] three prominent members of the Ring Advisory Panel resigned. These three members (Springs Toledo, Cliff Rold and Tim Starks) became the founding members of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board,[28] which was formed over the summer of 2012 with the assistance of Stewart Howe of England. The board only awards vacant championships when the two top-ranked fighters in any division meet, and currently recognizes legitimate world champions or "true champions" each weight classes.[29]

After The Ring lost its credibility, many boxing historians and boxing analysts viewed the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board as the most complete version of lineal championship and the most authoritative rankings in boxing today.

TBRB champions are listed on Cyber Boxing Zone website, which list lineal champions of the Queensberry Era to date.

Records[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Raskin, Eric (2008-03-24). "In an ideal world, Casamayor fights the 'Galaxxy Warrior' next". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Castellano, Daniel J. (2005). "Critique of "Lineal" Boxing Championships". Repository of Arcane Knowledge. Retrieved 2008-11-19.
  3. Rafael, Dan (2004-02-08). "Lewis retires, saying he has nothing left to prove". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-11-20. "The mission I set out on in the beginning — to become heavyweight champion of the world, undisputed, lineal champion — you could say that mission is complete."
  5. 5.0 5.1 Rold, Cliff. "Boxing's Lineal Mathematics: Champion Versus Champion II". Wail!. CBZ. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  6. Rold, Cliff (2009-11-14). "Erdei Vacates: Ding-Dong, the Lineage Argument is Dead". BoxingScene. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  7. "Boxing News : The Disputed Light Heavyweight Champion of the World". Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  8. 8.0 8.1 DeLisa, Mike (August 2004). "What the CBZ Means When it Refers to "Lineal Championships"". The CBZ Journal. cyberboxingzone. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  9. "Golden Boy Enterprises' Subsidiary, Sports and Entertainment Publications, LLC, Acquires The Ring Magazine, KO, World Boxing and Pro Wrestling Illustrated". Golden Boy Promotions. 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
  10. Kimball, George (2008-04-27). "Calzaghe claim far from undisputed". Boston Herald. Retrieved 2008-11-14.
  11. "Chat: Chat with Dan Rafael - SportsNation - ESPN". Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  12. "The Horrible New Ring Magazine Championship Policy". Queensberry Rules. 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  13. Magno, Paul. "Ring Magazine’s pretend rankings upgrade ‘championship’ policy". Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  14. "Lineal Heavyweight Champions - Photos". Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  15. "Lineal Middleweight Champs Since 1941 - Photos". Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "The Cyber Boxing Zone Lineal World Champions". Cyber Boxing Zone. Retrieved 2008-11-20.
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Lineal Boxing World Champions". Cyber Boxing Zone. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  18. "New Lineal Bantamweight Championship Title Claimant!". CBZ Historical News. Cyber Boxing Zone.!. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  19. Greisman, David P. (20 September 2010). ""Fighting Words" – Mosley vs Mora Debacle: Caveat Empty". Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  20. Donovan, Jake (2009-02-16). "Crowning And Recognizing A Lineal Champion – Part I". BoxingScene. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  21. Donovan, Jake (2009-02-17). "Crowning And Recognizing A Lineal Champion – Part II". BoxingScene. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  22. Donovan, Jake (2009-02-19). "Crowning And Recognizing A Lineal Champion – Part III". BoxingScene. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  23. Donovan, Jake (20 February 2009). "Crowning And Recognizing A Lineal Champion – Part IV". boxingscene. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  24. "The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board: More Support is Needed - Boxing News". 2015-07-19.,PAGE_ID10,1792218646. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  25. Raskin, Eric (2013-04-02). "TBRB: A viable alphabet alternative?". ESPN.
  26. Tim Starks (September 9, 2011). "The Ring Magazine Shakes Up Its Leadership, Threatens Its Credibility". The Queensberry Rules. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  27. The Ring updates championship policy
  28. Gibson, Paul (2 February 2015). "Boxing loses credibility with every new champion. Can the sport be saved?". The Guardian.
  29. "What if boxing had one champion for every weight division?". The guardian. October 15, 2013. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
  30. "Muhammad Ali's victory against Liston went beyond boxing and was a hi-viz jacket for civil liberties, a giant step for mankind".
  31. "Ali Regains Title, Flooring Foreman". New York Times. October 30, 1974.
  32. Dave Anderson (September 15, 1978). "Muhammad Ali reclaims heavyweight title from Leon Spinks". World History Project.
  33. Coffeen, Fraser (2015-02-06). "Kickboxing lineal title history: Lineal Heavyweight gold on the line at Glory 19". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  34. "Pacquiao Rebounds, Decisions Bradley". 2016-04-10. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  35. "Lineal flyweight boxing champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia. Cyber Boxing Zone. 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  36. "The Lineal Welterweight Champs". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia. Retrieved April 15, 2016. "The following list gives credit to "The Man Who Beat The Man." As always ludicrous decisions of "sanctioning bodies" are ignored. Explore our On-Line Boxing Encyclopedia for more info."
  37. "TBRB on Twitter: "Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman of @HBOboxing on and Manny's record after #PacquiaoBradley: "". Twitter. 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  38. "MGM Grand Results - Pacquiao Outclasses Bradley in Trilogy Closer". The Sweet Science. 2016-04-09.
  39. "Welterweight: Filling the void when championship becomes vacant". Lineal Champs.
  40. 02:00 PM. "Boxing Ratings". Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  41. "Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley III: Post-Fight Report Card". Boxing Scene. April 11, 2016. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
  42. Rafael, Dan (2009-05-01). "Pacquiao chases sixth title, history". ESPN.
  43. Graham, Bryan Armen (2009-05-04). "Beatdown of Hatton lifts Pacquiao into pantheon of all-time greats". Inside Boxing (CNN/SI). Retrieved 2010-01-30.
  44. 44.0 44.1 Rosenthal, Michael (2009-10-28). "Pacquiao seeking title in record seventh division". The Ring blog. Retrieved 2010-01-29. "Pacquiao has won titles as a flyweight (1998), junior featherweight (2001), featherweight (2003, The Ring), junior lightweight (2008), lightweight (2008) and junior welterweight (2009, The Ring), which equals Oscar De La Hoya's six-division record. And boxing historian Cliff Rold pointed out that Pacquiao is the only fighter in history to win four lineal titles (112 pounds, 126, 130, and 140)"
  45. Kevin Iole (2016-06-29). "Bob Arum believes Manny Pacquiao 'wants to return'". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  46. Chandler, Michael J. (2016-04-10). "Pacquiao tops Bradley by UD in vintage display". The Score. Retrieved April 10, 2016. "Still the only Eight-Division world champion, Pacquiao's 10 titles paired with the honor of being the first to capture the lineal championship in five different weight classes sets him apart."
  47. Hogg, Dave (2016-04-10). "Manny Pacquiao makes history in retirement bout". Retrieved May 27, 2016. "Manny Pacquiao never got his rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., but on Saturday night, he did something that Mayweather never accomplished. By beating Timothy Bradley in his last fight, Pacquaio claimed the vacant linear welterweight title and became the first boxer to win the true championship in five different weight classes. Fittingly, he ended his career by breaking the record he shared with Mayweather."
  48. "History of the Lineal World Championships". The Lineal Champs. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  49. "A Lineal Title Supported Argument for the GOAT in MMA". Bloody Elbow. 2015-01-29. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  50. Savage, Greg (2010-06-26). "Fedor Loses: Werdum Shocks the World". Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  51. | Boxing Heavyweight Lineal Champion Tyson Fury And WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder Battled To A Controversial Draw | site |date=2018-12-1
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