The Lineal Formula

Having discovered boxing early in life, I well remember the days of eight weight classes and great fighters such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Manuel Ortiz, Sandy Saddler, Willie Pep and Ike Williams dominating the sport. In those days almost everybody knew the names of the champions. However, the sport was not without its problems as can be clearly seen in my four volumes of The Definitive History of World Championship Boxing and by the mid-1960s with the advent of the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association it appeared to get worse, especially when both bodies began to support different men as champions. By the end of the 1980s they had been joined by the International Boxing Federation and the World Boxing Organisation, and with the introduction of nine new weight divisions and four champions per weight class things appeared to take a turn for the worse. On the plus side, with television more often than not in place at least the fighters received more opportunities and better pay.

 

Regardless of the above, along with other newly formed bodies trying to get in on the act, at least some unification battles began to take place as fighters themselves tried to prove who was ‘top dog’. With television also having more of a say in recent times a group of promoters set up the World Boxing Super Series, which worked on the principle of taking the best eight fighters per division. It does not always work out that way but at least it does eventually provide the best man at the weight.

 

I grew up at a time when the champion either retired or was beaten by a challenger. Although you often failed to get the best man as champion at least you knew where you were. A classic case of this came when the seventh ranked Jimmy Carter beat Ike Williams to win the lightweight title. On the other side of the coin it took the great Archie Moore, who turned pro in 1935, 17 years to get a crack at the world light heavyweight title due to him not having the right connections.

 

It is because I believe that the majority of us want one champion per weight division, I have devised the following formula which picks up the leading men who were/are prepared to fight the best. The ratings I have used are those of The Ring from April 1928, unless stated otherwise. Any boxer who has announced his retirement or confirmed that he will be fighting in another weight division will not be taken into account. Also, if a lineal champion (not world champion) fails to meet a top-five rated opponent for two years or more and there are others who have already qualified or in the process of qualifying he forfeits the lineal title, as are those who are suspended for drug taking. If there is no world champion in place, the following applies:-

 

Prior to 1965

1/Top rated versus number 2

2/Unification of at least two versions of the title

​1966 to 1982 inclusive, due to the WBA and WBC splitting the title
1/Top rated versus number 2 or 3

2/Unification of at least two versions of the title

1983 to 1988 inclusive, taking into account the IBF being formed
1/Top rated versus number 2, 3 or 4 

2/Unification of at least two versions of the title

1989 to 2012 inclusive, taking into account the WBO being formed
1/Top rated versus number 2, 3, 4 or 5

2/Unification of at least two versions of the title
 
2013 onwards due to many of the top-rated men failing to take on opponents inside the top five

1/Top rated versus number 2, 3, 4 or 5

2/Number 2 versus 3 when the top-rated man fails to meet his leading challengers and continues to fight opponents outside the top five

3/Unification of at least two versions of the title

For any Champion's records, please click on those underscored