July 2023

Boxing Belts and Titles Explained

image: R.J. Cohen -, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For many fans and even some boxers, the abundance of different boxing belts and their varying significance can be confusing.

In this article, we'll explain the different belts, their importance, and why they are so numerous.

Firstly, it's essential to understand that there are four major sanctioning bodies in professional boxing: the World Boxing Association (WBA), the World Boxing Council (WBC), the International Boxing Federation (IBF), and the World Boxing Organization (WBO). Each of these bodies is responsible for awarding championship belts in different weight classes.

As a result of having multiple sanctioning bodies, we see a proliferation of belts in various divisions. This has led to debates and criticisms about the need for so many championships. However, each organization operates independently, and their belts hold distinct value in the boxing community.

When a boxer holds a belt from one of the sanctioning bodies, they are recognized as a world champion in that particular weight division.

Among the various belts, the term "undisputed" is used to describe a boxer who holds all four major organization's titles within a weight class. Becoming an undisputed champion is a rare feat, and it is widely considered the most coveted accomplishment in boxing. It elevates the boxer to the status of the true king of their division, as they have defeated all other titleholders and possess all the belts.

For example, Terence Crawford's victory that unified the WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO titles meant he became the undisputed welterweight champion.

This accolade is considered the pinnacle of boxing achievements because it signifies a boxer's dominance in their weight class.

While the undisputed title is the most prestigious, other belts also hold significance in the sport. Some boxers may hold belts from only one or two organizations, and they are still regarded as legitimate champions. These belts represent recognition from a particular sanctioning body, and they come with the honor and prestige of being a world champion.

The multitude of belts and sanctioning bodies can, at times, create confusion and dilute the significance of some titles. However, they also provide opportunities for various boxers to showcase their talents and earn recognition on the world stage.

The accumulation of belts by individual boxers may lead to debates about their true standing in the sport. Nevertheless, becoming an undisputed champion remains the most sought-after goal for boxers, as it signifies complete dominance and supremacy in a weight division. As boxing continues to evolve, fans and boxers alike will continue to embrace the excitement and passion that comes with the pursuit of these coveted belts.


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