The term 'email champ' is the latest entry into the boxing vernacular that has become popular on social media. It refers to a boxer who gains a major world title by sanctioning body edict, and not by beating a particular champion inside the ring.
The latest to gain that distinction, whether that's fair or not, is Jaron 'Boots' Ennis, who is now the IBF welterweight champion after the organization stripped Terence Crawford last week.
Which set off many debates as to why the IBF would give Crawford just several months to fulfill a mandatory defense, after Spence had only one in the past five years. And did Crawford really 'duck' the talented native out of Philly, or did Ennis, who has been number one for awhile, exploit the fact that they knew that 'Bud' would only stay for one fight at 147 in a rematch versus Spence?
Putting all that aside, the point is that this is becoming a trend, where young prospects are getting to the number one ranking, and then basically squatting on those positions, and quite frankly not really doing all that much to enforce their mandatories as quickly as possible.
In this column (https://snac.com/blogs/k-9-kims-corner/another-lost-weekend-for-ortiz) a few months ago I wrote this:
"And while both Stanionis and Ortiz have been rated number one by various sanctioning bodies, they have either taken step-aside money, or not really pushed for their mandatory positions to be enforced. They both chose the path of least resistance in hopes of fighting for a vacant title versus a much softer touch.
The days of a young Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini battling an all-time great, Alexis Arguello in his first title opportunity, or James Toney challenging Michael Nunn -- in his own hometown, no less -- seem to be long gone. This has become a game of avoidance for many fledgling boxers.
Ortiz and Stanionis played the waiting game.
And they both lost."
This past Friday after the IBF ruling, I dialed up Mancini, who I referenced in that piece. Did it ever occur to him that at age 20, and with his burgeoning popularity, that he could wait a bit on facing a fighter the caliber of Arguello? Or perhaps just wait for him to move up and face a lesser foe for a vacant belt?
Mancini stated without hesitation, "If you want to be the best -- you've got to beat the best. Being anybody else other than Arguello at that time, what would that mean?"
The favorite son of Youngstown, Ohio explained that after defeating the sixth ranked Jorge Morales for the NABF lightweight title in nine rounds, and then Jorge Luis Ramirez, who was ranked number three by the WBC, he was in line to face Arguello.
"I got the shot, you have to take it," said Mancini. "I thought I was catching him at the right time. He didn't look good against Jim Watt.
The thought of bypassing this opportunity never crossed his mind.
"That was everything, (Arguello) was there at the fight when I beat Ramirez, he came into the ring and they asked if I would be fighting him next. I said, 'I'd be honored to share the ring with him.' But that's what you want," said Mancini.
In what was a memorable bout that was broadcast nationally by CBS on October 3, 1981, Mancini jumped out early on Arguello, but was vanquished in 14 rounds. "Experience took over," said Mancini, who's stature only grew in that defeat.
And there were no regrets in taking on that assignment.
"No," said Mancini, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall-of-Fame in 2015,"because again, I wanted to fight the best -- and he was. Even afterwords, I knew I was never going to fight a guy that tough again in my division."
Three fights later, Mancini defeated Arturo Frias in a one-round shootout to capture the WBA 135-pound strap, and then continue his career as a highly popular boxer that helped carry the sport in the early 80's alongside the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Robert Duran and 'Marvelous' Marvin Hagler.
Many times boxers are just pawns of the promoters and networks. But as boxers, they have a say in their career path. The behavior of today's fighters, or the way they are handled by their management, irks Mancini.
"Oh, it absolutely does," he admitted to SNAC.com. "The fighters, and a few of them do understand it, we control this thing. Yes, we have a manager, and you're on the same team, on the same page together. But at a certain point, if you ain't getting the fight that you want, you've got to call them out.
"We control our destiny. We are in control."
Mancini took the path of most resistance.
Today, many are now taken down the path of none.