By News Team
Last Updated: 15th March 2021
Take a look at each of the boxing belts in order of prestige and the boxing belt rankings, as we explain the landscape in full. Read on as the boxing belts are explained at WilliamHill
Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury are the two current heavyweight champions, and it’s looking likely that they will meet in the ring at some point this year, with the winner to be crowned the undisputed champion of the division.
But how many heavyweight belts are there? There are four recognised world championship belts: the WBA (Super), WBC, IBF and WBO – but who holds each of the heavyweight belts, and how have we got to this point?
WBA (est. 1962)
The longest standing boxing organisation, the World Boxing Association (WBA) has been involved in some of the largest fights in existence, including the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ and the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’, both co-sanctioned with the WBC.
However, there have been suspected corrupt dealings with Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank promotions, with the organisation reportedly accepting money for a fighter to be placed higher in the body’s world ranking charts.
For each of the organisations, rankings are used to determine the number one contender within each weight division. If a fighter makes it to the top of an organisation’s world ranking, they can call on their status a mandatory challenger to fight the current world champion for the belt.
The WBA have since disbanded the WBA championship in its essence, with the belt split into two versions: the WBA (Super) champion, and the WBA (Regular) champion. This has also diminished the value in the organisation’s world title belt.
Anthony Joshua is the current WBA (Super) heavyweight champion, which he fought against Wladimir Klitschko for in 2017. This was Joshua’s global breakout moment into mainstream stardom. He briefly lost and regained the title to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019.
The WBA (Regular) belt holder is currently Trevor Bryan, which means he could be next in line to be installed as Joshua’s mandatory challenger for the WBA (Super) belt.
WBC (est. 1963)
The World Boxing Council (WBC), although not the oldest recognised organisation in this list, is widely considered the most prestigious world title belt, due to its illustrious list of former champions.
Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard, Floyd Mayweather and more recently Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, have all been long serving champions of the WBC, whilst current boxers often talk of their wishes to win the WBC championship in favour of the other three iterations.
Tyson Fury is the current WBC heavyweight champion, defeating long standing champion Deontay Wilder on February 22, 2020, touted as one of the greatest victories by a British fighter on away soil. Wilder had previously held the belt for five years and one month and made 10 successful defences.
Dillian Whyte has had his sights set on a chance to fight for the WBC title for years, climbing up the organisation’s ranking, but he fell short to Alexander Povetkin last August, and a rematch between the pair will determine the future number one contender for the belt.
IBF (est. 1983)
In 1983, at the WBA’s annual convention, Bobby Lee Sr., president of the former United States Boxing Association (USBA), lost in his bid to become WBA president against Gilberto Mendoza.
Lee and others decided to set up the International Boxing Federation (IBF) organisation, and by 1984, they had recognised world champions such as Aaron Pryor, Marvin Hagler and Donald Curry. The same year, Larry Holmes decided to relinquish his WBC belt to accept the IBF iteration, and the IBF have since been legitimised alongside the WBA and WBC.
Anthony Joshua is the current IBF heavyweight champion, having first won the belt in 2016 against Charles Martin, who had himself held the title for less than three months.
Again, Joshua briefly lost and regained the title to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019. He also defeated long-term mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev in his latest bout in December, leaving the rankings wide open for the next title elimination fight.
WBO (est. 1988)
Although the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) is the youngest of the four governing bodies, fighters such as Chris Eubank Sr., Johnny Tapia and Naseem Hamed helped to shed light on the WBO in the mid-90s, with all three showing great showmanship in and out of the ring, and all having long, successful reigns as WBO champions in their weight divisions.
Anthony Joshua holds the fourth and final heavyweight belt between the two champions, first winning the title against Joseph Parker in his second unification fight, and again, regaining the belt after defeating Andy Ruiz Jr. in a rematch.
Oleksandr Usyk is the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s WBO belt, and it’s touted he will fight Joe Joyce in a final eliminator this year, whilst he waits on the sidelines for Joshua and Fury to face off.
Meanwhile, the International Boxing Organisation (IBO) is not recognised as a major governing body and is a non-profit organisation. Joshua currently holds the IBO belt.