It’s normal to see boxers defend their world titles twice a year now which in my opinion is still not often enough but what shouldn’t be allowed is defending once a year. To start off with the two fights a year nonsense is annoying. It means we don’t get to see the top fighters very often and also that challengers have to wait years to get a shot because all the fights are so delayed. Fighters are ending their careers with around 35-40 fights now instead of the 60+ they used to and only special fighters get beyond 50 fights at the top level now. I think a large part of it is that the money at the top is good enough that these fighters don’t need to fight anymore than twice a year which is great for the boxers but bad for the fans and the sport. It also means that fighters almost always have ring rust and blow up in weight between fights which isn’t good long term for them. If it’s two good opponents I can stomach it but when for example Crawford fights Khan and Mean Machine in a year it disappoints me because I know if hes fighting that level of competition he can fight more than twice a year. Look at people like Tevin Farmer and Emanuel Navarrete who while fighting lesser competition make up for that by fighting every few months.
Moving on because I can deal with fighters defending their belts twice a year but if a fighter will only defend their belt once a year then they should be stripped. It’s disgraceful that a top professional only competes once a year while holding on to something that people work their whole lives towards. The sanctioning bodies really should put a rule in place to stop this hostage taking of world title belts. Gary Russell Jr is the easiest example as he’s been a champion since 2015 and is only making his 5th defence this Saturday. He has consistently fought once a year for 5 years and it’s not like hes unified or taken on the best contender in the division every year it’s mostly been tune ups for a world champion which shouldn’t be excused in boxing.
I doubt anything will change because these sanctioning bodies don’t like to put in rules which might make their champions actually work and they recycle the same fighters over and over again for no good reason other than it makes them money. It’s incredibly frustrating for me because I want the sport to do well but the people involved with it seemingly try and kill it off as much as possible. I’m being very negative here and I know we get lots of good fights and unification’s but for the very casual fan who only knows Joshua they don’t want to see a world champion fight twice a year vs people they are 1/100 to beat. No one wants to see that and when fighters barely defend their belts I question whether they should perhaps hang their gloves up if they can’t find the passion to go into the ring anymore at even the highest level. If you can’t get motivated to defend your title then its very hard as a fan to get behind you and It really frustrates me when I see fighters say they “couldn’t get up for this fight”. If its a world title fight its a big fight and your insulting everyone including your opponent if you effectively say you couldn’t be bothered to work hard.
It’s not just Gary Russel Jr that does this he’s just a good example another one would be Canelo not vacating his WBA middleweight belt when its very obvious he isn’t going to defend it in his next fight which means he wouldn’t have defended it in over a year but no ones talking about how the belt is just sitting there useless. Khalid Yafai and Jerwin Ancajas are both examples as well, Yafai hasn’t been all that active and hasn’t fought good competition and Ancajas has had a horrid title reign where people have stopped caring.
Hopefully Russell gets active now if he wins and if Tug wins then we can hope that he fights more than Russell though thats not a certainty considering he hasn’t fought in a year.