Last week in New York City, Lennox Lewis lost his WBA heavyweight title belt even while knocking out Michael Grant. Lewis was stripped of the title for failing to first fight the WBA's leading challenger, John Ruiz, whom most experts agree shouldn't rank among the top five heavyweights. Meanwhile, across the Hudson, IBF president Bob Lee and three colleagues were standing trial in U.S. district court on racketeering charges for allegedly accepting $338,000 to rig their sanctioning body's rankings.
If you have soured on the sweet science and its depraved rankings systems, you may want to visit www.Boxingranks.com. Last week the site unveiled what it says will be a monthly boxing writers' poll, ranking the top 10 fighters in all 17 pro weight classes. "We hope to establish the boxing rankings like the college football rankings," says the site's founder, Howie Sirota, a Wall Street lawyer and a boxing fan, "and Don King can't buy the writers, certainly not as easily as he can the alphabet-soup governing bodies."
Thus far the site's Boxing Writers' Rankings Poll has 25 members, including such venerable ringside pundits as Bill Gallo of the New York Daily News, author Pete Hamill, George Kimball of the Boston Herald, HBO commentators Larry Merchant and Jack Newfield, and Wallace Matthews of the New York Post, none of whom are compensated for voting. Old habits die hard, though. At a press conference last week Matthews remarked, "O.K., I'm voting. Send the graft."