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GUEST ARTICLE: Should we have a ‘Master Division’ in the pros?

By Christopher Jason Young

Here is an idea for the state boxing commissions around the country and the boxing organizations around the world might want to consider. Over the past many years of this great sport of ours, we have had great fighters that had a difficult time in letting the sport go or making one too many comebacks. They were obviously past their boxing prime, but they are still in great physical condition in what we consider in boxing their advanced age (over 40). A lot of times when a boxer is in their late 30’s or in their 40’s they get fed to some up and coming young lion that’s trying to get a name on their resume. Now there are few times where you have surprisingly great performances from an old lion that shows the young pup that they still got it. For example, Roy Jones vs. Jeff Lacy, Bernard Hopkins vs. Kelly Pavlick or Larry Holmes vs Ray Mercer.

There are great fighters today that strongly believe that they can still capture glory in a bottle one more time. Even when we the fans see that the writing on the wall clearly says their time is up, but we still cheer for them, giving the extra edge to push on

Here is a list of several champions that continued to fight past the age of 40.

Julio Cesar Chavez- 4 fights past the age of 40

Ricardo Mayorga -4 fights past the age of 40

Leon Spinks- 5 fights past the age of 40

Bert Cooper- 5 fights past the age of 40

Shane Mosley- 6 fights past the age of 40

Antonio Tarver-7 fights past the age of 40

Hector Macho Camacho- 8 fights past the age of 40

Evander Holyfield-10 fights past the age of 40

Ray Mercer -11 fights past the age of 40

James Toney- 11 fights past the age of 40

Yori Boy Campas -12 fights past the age of 40

Glen Johnson -14 fights past the age of 40

Roy Jones has had 17 fights over the age of 40

Bernard Hopkins 18 fights past the age of 40

George Foreman-20 fights past the age of 40

Oliver McCall-22 fights past the age of 40

Roberto Duran- 25 fights past the age of 40

Larry Holmes -27 fights past the age of 40

Archie Moore -30 fights past the age of 40

Sugar Ray Robinson-44 fights past the age of 40

It’s very difficult for a boxer to walk away from the sport. Some continue to fight due to wanting to stay in the addicting limelight. Others may continue to box because they truly believe they can still make history and win a world title. Sadly, there is quite a few of them that continue to box due to their financial situation.

Now as fan, I never want to see any boxer to get seriously hurt, or get damaged to point that they don’t have all of their faculties or their speech get slurred. A lot of the damage they take in their career is because they are towards the end of their career and they are in a ring with someone much younger, faster, and more powerful than them. Aging boxer reflexes diminishes to the point that they can’t even slip a jab from the younger boxer.

So why not create or establish a master division just like they do for the amateurs for advanced aged boxers that wants to continue their career?  If the commission can take from USA Boxing Competition Rulebook, Appendix H and amend it to the professional boxing this could work.

1) Those boxing who are of the age 41 and older will be classified as a master’s boxer. Those participating who are ages 35 to 40 may choose to box as a master or may choose to box as senior/elite (or both) until you reach the age of 41. (Proposal: To qualify for the master division you would have to be at least 40 years of age no more than 50. The boxer is not limited to stay in the master division. He must be ranked in the top 10 and perform at the elite level to receive a world title shot)

2) The master’s division will have a different passbook than other USA Boxing division; the book will be yellow in color and have the master’s division identified on it in writing. (Does not apply to the professional ranks)

3) Masters must get a yearly physical that is more in-depth than what is required for other boxers. (Proposal: If an advance boxer is inactive then he/she must submit to a yearly physical that is more in depth including EKG, Stress test, lab work, eye test, neuropsychology testing etc. The same test goes for boxers of advanced age who are active must complete before every fight)

4) Boxers will be limited to boxing three rounds between one and two-minutes in duration. There will be one (1) minute rest between rounds. (Proposal: Boxers will continue to box three minute rounds. The number of rounds is determined by the state boxing commission/ boxing organization and level of recent quality experience.)

5) The age difference between competitors shall be no more than ten (10) years younger or ten (10) years older. Master boxers may not compete against boxers younger than 35 years of age. (No changes)

If a boxer wants to keep fighting, then sometimes we must protect them from themselves. It sad, but this might be the only way for them to make a living. If these boxing organization want to create a “World Title” for them to give them something to fight for then why not? Sports medicine has come a long way. There are quite a few boxers who are north of 40 who are still in physical excellent condition like Mayweather and Hopkins. We even saw the success of advanced athletes in Ice Cube’s BIG 3 basketball league. They may not be able to quite keep up with the younger NBA players but they are better shape than most men their age.

That’s why I would like to see this implemented. If the aging boxer wants to continue his or her career and be happy, then we should try to make boxing a little safer for them. If they can pass a stringent medical exam, neuropsychological test and they can intelligently protect themselves, and then let them continue to be happy and make a living under these parameters.

You can follow me on Twitter @GFofBoxing

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