Into the crazy-quilt pattern of factions and organizations that regulate professional boxing has come yet another group that says it hopes to find the formula that can bring order out of the chaos that currently permeates the sport.
It is the United States Boxing Association International, an organization of 32 state boxing and athletic commissions, distressed over what it says is this country's lack of power and influence in international boxing organizations.
"We're going to set up our own championships, do our own rankings and establish a set of rules and minimum standards that we hope everybody can live with," said Robert Lee, the deputy boxing commissioner of New Jersey and the president of USBA International. "I am asking some of the current champions to make their next title defense and any other title defense under our banner."
The new organization will sanction its first title bout next week when Wilford Scypion fights middleweight champion Marvin Hagler in Providence. Lee said Hagler's is the only commitment from a champion he's received so far.
Lee also said he's called a "summit meeting of boxing promoters for June 1 at the Meadowlands in New Jersey for the express purpose of asking them to approve of what we're doing and to support it financially." July 17-20, Lee said, USBA International will hold a founding convention in Reno.
Hagler, who holds both the World Boxing Council and the World Boxing Association middleweight titles, had been caught in a cross fire between the two groups over whether his title defense should be 15 rounds or 12 rounds.
Hagler, whose contract called for a 15-round fight with Scypion, refused to fight only 12 rounds and sought USBA International sanctioning for the fight. "I am pleased with what Marvin did," said Lee. "It showed guts on his part to break with these guys and say, 'Hey, I'm my own man.' "
USBA International's move to gain control of boxing championships and worldwide rankings comes as legislation is pending in Congress that would establish a federal commission to regulate boxing. Several witnesses at hearings on that legislation testified that both the WBA and WBC are run from Central and South America and that the United States has no real say in the governance of the sport, despite the fact that it supplies most of the fighters and most of the money.
"I take great offense at someone from Caracas telling me who the officials would be for a fight," said Walter R. Stone, vice chairman of the Rhode Island Racing and Athletic Commission. "We're just trying to bring about a degree of sanity. The majority of United States commissioners have been excluded from boxing decisions."
"It's common knowledge that people at all levels of boxing are tired of the sport being controlled from outside of the country," said Cora Masters Wilds, a supporter of Lee's efforts and the head of the D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission. "Ninety percent of the champions and 90 percent of the money comes from the United States, but the decisions are being made outside of the country, which is ludicrous. Everyone is tired of being pushed around by these organizations. We're just not going to do it any more."
Predictably, Jose Sulaiman, the president of the WBC, was less than enthusiastic about the emergence of USBA International. "It seems to me very confusing to have one more organization than we already have now," he said by telephone from his office in Mexico City.
"Everybody is going off in his own different direction. We will just observe to see what happens."
Sulaiman also said the WBC is reconsidering its demand that Hagler's title defense by limited to 12 rounds, based on the fact that Hagler's television contract with HBO calls for a 15-round fight.