So how does professional boxing really work?

Recently a WBC world championship fight was held in my town, so I went there although I’m not too much interested in this sport. This made me wonder about how the world of boxing works; I understand that the enormous amount of championship fights held during the year are due to (a) the different weight classes, and (b) the fact that, unlike most other sports, there is not only one but several sanctioning organizations, each one awarding world champion titles.

Are the various boxing associations rather competing or rather cooperating? How often does a world champion have to defend his title, and how is the challenger determined - if it’s the choice of the champion, what prevents him from choosing wimps so he can keep his title as long as possible? What’s up with strange titles such as “International Champion” or “Intercontinental Champion” some associations seem to award? And what’s the role of “promoters” - it seems to me they’re managers having contracts with various fighters, whose job is to organize the bouts against others for as much cash as possible? What’s up with "unification fights, " does it just mean the champs of two different associations fight against each other, the winner getting both titles, and afterwards the associations merge?

I don’t really understand the world of pro boxing; some illumination would be very much appreciated.

Competing, most definitly. However, it’s not unusual for a champion to hold the title from more than one organization.

I think with most organizations it’s at least once a year.

If they’re all wimps, then the purses won’t be as big. Usually, they alternate between decent fighters and stiffs. The stiffs are considered “tune-up” fights for a bigger purse fight against a decent contender. Not unusual in sports. In the US, most of the upper echelon college teams schedule a number of walk-overs—but they can’t schedule too many, or they won’t look credible. That’s the reason for fighting more than just stiffs. A better perceived match-up will result in a bigger purse. When you get two good fighters together, it’s often just a matter of the right money. If the champ stands a real chance of losing the title and getting the snot knocked out of him, he’s gonna want to be paid for facing such tough opposition.

Money. Any time you put “champion” in a match, you stand a chance of getting a bigger attendance.

That pretty much nails it. They get their cut of the purse, too.

It means the winner after the fight holds more than one title. Often, though, the two organizations have different #1 contenders, and in the subsequent title defense, the organization whose #1 contender does not get the match (usually determined by how much money is to be had), often strips the champ of their title and holds a championship match of their own to determine their new champ. The organizations themselves do not merge.

Boxing is a very expoitative business. Only about the top 1% of boxers make any serious money, and they have to pay managers, promoters, trainers, and sparring partners. And don’t forget that platoon of hangers-on that famous boxers seem to accumulate.

Boxing is a poor man’s sport. Generally, a young man who thinks he has any other hope for survival will not choose to get bashed around for a living. Trainers and agents know the client knows nothing of business, so they screw the poor kid financially at every turn. It’s not unusual for even a top boxer to end up broke and brain-damaged.

That’s quite a statement to make without a cite, IMO.
Anyway, it is tradition that the #1 contender get a title shot, although that has been overlooked in some instances because the #1 contender matches up too well against the champ or that the #1 contender is not a well known name and no one would pay to see the fight. They would rather watch Tyson - Holyfield again :rolleyes: