Boxing always has been needlessly complex. Instead of one sanctioning body that awards world titles, there are four.
Instead of eight weight classes for fighters to compete in, as there were for much of the sport's existence, there are 17.
Instead of just one world champion in each class, there are champions, super champions, interim champions, champions-in-recess and champions emeritus.
Two of the primary sanctioning bodies, the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council, refer to the newer classes as "super," as in super featherweight, super lightweight and super welterweight. The World Boxing Organization and the International Boxing Federation refer to the same new classes as "junior," as in junior lightweight, junior welterweight and junior middleweight.
None of that insanity can top the comic absurdity that has come up during the negotiations to finalize a fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. When a journalist referred to Golden Boy Promotions as Mayweather's promoter, Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's best friend and the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, quickly offered a correction.
Golden Boy Promotions does not, Ellerbe said emphatically, promote Mayweather Jr.
"Floyd Mayweather is promoted by Mayweather Promotions," Ellerbe said.
Yet, Golden Boy CEO is handling negotiations for Mayweather's side with Top Rank, first with company founder Bob Arum and later with its president, Todd duBoef. Top Rank promotes Pacquiao.
But – and in boxing, there's always a but – Top Rank isn't Pacquiao's sole promoter. Pacquiao signed contracts with both Golden Boy and Top Rank in 2006. Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya was so eager to sign Pacquiao that he met him at Los Angeles International Airport and presented him with a suitcase filled with $250,000 in cash as an inducement to sign.
Top Rank sued. Golden Boy countersued. After many months and much rancor, the sides submitted to an arbitrator, who awarded each side a piece of Pacquiao. Top Rank is the primary promoter, but Golden Boy gets a percentage of profit from each Pacquiao fight. So, this scenario had Pacquiao's co-promoter representing Mayweather negotiating with Pacquiao's primary promoter.
Arum, though, said he's contacted his attorneys in a bid to end the arrangement. He said Golden Boy's conduct in the dispute over the drug testing was so egregious and against Pacquiao's interests that it should forfeit its interest in him.
Arum said he will go back to the arbiter and attempt to have Golden Boy removed.
"What [Richard] Schaefer has done has been unconscionable," Arum roared.
Schaefer, who has been the target of many Arum broadsides over the years, was hardly affected. "I'm not worried about it," he said. "We have done nothing wrong and I know I can wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and be happy with who I see." It's not a major point and it has nothing to do with whether the fight gets made or not. But it's just another little absurdity in a sport filled with them.
If the fight does go forward, it will match men who are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the Yahoo! Sports rankings. Pacquiao garnered 28 first-place votes of the 31 cast, while Mayweather landed the other three.
And despite the complexities inherent in boxing, the Yahoo! Sports rankings are simple. The journalists, who represent six countries on three continents, are asked to vote for the men they feel are the best boxers in the world, regardless of weight class.
The only restrictions the voters face is that they aren't allowed to vote for a fighter suspended by a regulatory agency and fighters who have not been active in the past 12 months are inactive.
Pacquiao landed 28 first-place votes and three seconds. Mayweather, who was a unanimous No. 1 before he announced a brief retirement in June 2008, received three first-place votes, 27 seconds and one third.
1. Manny Pacquiao
Points: 307 (28 of 31 first-place votes)
Record: 50-3-2 (38 KOs)
Title: WBO welterweight champion
Last outing: TKO12 over Miguel Cotto on Nov. 14
Previous ranking: 1
Up next: Negotiations on for March 13 fight with No. 2 Floyd Mayweather
Analysis: Big fight may be sunk by drug testing dispute
2. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Points: 281 (3 of 31 first-place votes)
Record: 40-0 (25 KOs)
Last outing: W12 over No. 6 Juan Manuel Marquez on Sept. 19
Previous ranking: 2
Up next: Negotiations on for March 13 fight with No. 1 Manny Pacquiao
Analysis: Speed demon, defensive wizard
3. Shane Mosley
Record: 46-5 (39 KOs)
Title: WBA welterweight champion
Last outing: TKO9 over Antonio Margarito on Jan. 24
Previous ranking: 4
Up next: Vs. Andre Berto on Jan. 30 in Las Vegas
Analysis: Hopes to get into Pacquiao or Mayweather sweepstakes with a win
4. Paul Williams
Record: 38-1 (27 KOs)
Title: WBO junior middleweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Sergio Martinez on Dec. 5
Previous ranking: 3
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Clamor building for bout with middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik
5. Bernard Hopkins
Record: 50-5-1 (32 KOs)
Last outing: W12 over Enrique Ornelas on Dec. 2
Previous ranking: T5
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Roy Jones' loss to Danny Green may force Hopkins to face Chad Dawson
6. Juan Manuel Marquez
Record: 50-5-1 (37 KOs)
Title: WBA, WBO lightweight champion
Last outing: L12 to No. 2 Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Sept. 19
Previous ranking: T5
Up next: Potentially vs. Ricky Hatton on May 1 in Las Vegas
Analysis: Will get Pacquiao if Pacquiao-Mayweather negotiations fall through
7. Arthur Abraham
Record: 31-0 (25 KOs)
Last outing: TKO12 Jermain Taylor on Oct. 17
Previous ranking: 8
Up next: Vs. Andre Dirrell, date TBA
Analysis: Co-favorite in Super Six tournament
8. Chad Dawson
Record: 28-0 (17 KOs)
Title: Interim WBC light heavyweight champion
Last outing: W12 over Glen Johnson on Nov. 7
Previous ranking: 7
Up next: Nothing scheduled
Analysis: Starting to develop unwanted reputation as boring, safety-first fighter
9. Wladimir Klitschko
Record: 53-3 (47 KOs)
Title: IBF, WBO heavyweight champion
Last outing:: TKO9 over Ruslan Chagaev on June 20
Previous ranking:: 10
Up next: In March vs. Eddie Chambers
Analysis: Recovering from arm surgery
10. Juan Manuel Lopez
Record: 27-0 (24 KOs)
Title: WBO super bantamweight champion
Last outing:: W12 over Rogers Mtagwa on Oct. 10
Previous ranking:: NR
Up next: Vs. Steven Luevano for WBO featherweight title in New York on Jan. 23
Analysis: Eyeing summer showdown with Yuriorkis Gamboa
Others receiving votes: Timothy Bradley, 25; Vitali Klitschko, 23; Ivan Calderon, 22; Miguel Cotto, 22; Nonito Donaire, 14; Chris John, 12; Sergio Martinez, 11; Celestino Caballero, 9; Israel Vazquez, 7; Andre Ward, 6; Hozumi Hasegawa, 5; Rafael Marquez, 1.
Voting panel: Raul Alzaga, Primera Hora; Carlos Arias, Orange County Register; Ron Borges, Boston Herald; Steve Cofield, Yahoo! Sports; Dave Cokin, ESPN Radio 1100, Las Vegas; Brian Doogan, London Sunday Times; Andrew Eisele, About.com; Doug Fischer, Ringtv.com; Scott Fyfe, Sunday Post, Scotland; Thomas Gerbasi, Boxingscene.com; Lee Groves, MaxBoxing.com; Thomas Hauser, Seconds Out.com; Keith Idec, Herald News, New Jersey; Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports; Michael Katz, Gaming Today; Scott Mallon, Asian Boxing News.com; Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated; Rich Marotta, KFI-KLAC radio, Los Angeles; David Mayo, Grand Rapids Press; Franklin McNeil, Newark Star Ledger; Gunnar Meinhardt, Die Welt; Robert Morales, Los Angeles Daily News; Marty Mulcahey, MaxBoxing.com; Kieran Mulvaney, Reuters; Santos Perez, Miami Herald; Martin Rogers, Yahoo! Sports; Michael Rosenthal, Ringtv.com; Lem Satterfield, Fanhouse.com; T.K. Stewart, Boxingscene.com; Paul Upham, SecondsOut.com; George Willis, New York Post.