FORMER middleweight king Marvin Hagler lamented the proliferation of world titles in the modern era as he called for one champion per division.
Hagler was the undisputed top dog of the 160lbs category from 1980 until 1987 when he retired after a controversial points defeat to Sugar Ray Leonard having made 12 successful defences of his crown.
The landscape is now splintered because of the four major sanctioning bodies – WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO – which means there can often be more than fighter boasting of supremacy in their weight class.
It is a scenario currently playing out among the heavyweights with WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua, holder of the remaining belts, and his British rival Tyson Fury, the so-called lineal champion.
Speaking on a more general basis, though, Hagler referenced himself and former great middleweights in and around his era who had only one goal: to be number one.
“I hope that before I pass that they restore this game and bring it back to only one champion in the world,” the 64-year-old American told Press Association Sport.
“They have these three or four belts, I was only looking for one. Years ago, guys like Carlos Monzon, Bennie Briscoe, Emile Griffith, all of us were fighting for one belt.
“Now you’ve got the WBA, the WBC, the IBF (and the WBO) – they say it’s like the alphabet boys.
“If (a fighter) loses a fight or loses a belt, they can always go to another organisation and try for that belt.
“It should be exciting if they bring back one champion (per division).”
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is widely recognised as the current man to beat in Hagler’s old division as he holds the WBC and WBA titles while the Mexican could claim the IBF strap if he overcomes Daniel Jacobs on May 4.
Hagler, speaking in his role as a Laureus Ambassador, believes his successor is blossoming into an excellent fighter.
He added: “Canelo, I’ve seen him fight about three or four times. He seems to be getting better all the time.”
The Laureus World Sports Awards celebrate the most remarkable men and women from the world of sport along with their achievements from the previous calendar year. The Awards also showcase the work of Laureus Sport for Good, a charity which uses the power of sport to end violence, discrimination and disadvantage.