Boxing Belts Explained: Blow by blow

Boxing Belts Explained: Blow by blow

Boxing belts, boxing titles, and weight divisions can certainly be confusing for boxing fans. You can find the different boxing belts explained in this article which will hopefully help you better understand these titles better.

Awarded Belts In Order Of Incorporation

There are 4 major boxing title belts awarded by sanction bodies which are WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO. All are sought after by competing boxers in their respective weight classes and these fights are one of the most broadcasted sporting events across the globe.

There are a total of 17 weight divisions that start from minimum weight (105 pounds) and up to heavyweight (unlimited).

What some might not know is that boxers pay sanction fees to be able to compete for the title, and this fee is applicable for both rookies and champions.

WBA (World Boxing Association)

Founded: 1921

Formerly known as National Boxing Association, WBA is the oldest boxing organization that was founded in 1921. Its headquarters are in Panama with Gilberto Mendoza as president from 1982 until 2016, and his son, Gilberto Mendoza Jr. assuming his position and the current president effective until 2025.

WBA serves boxing championships worldwide and awards a WBA title in any given weight division.

WBC (World Boxing Council)

Founded: 1963

Some say that boxers nowadays consider this as the most prestigious boxing belt to attain. 

Their green championship belt features the flags of all 161 member countries. The design itself has evolved since the 1960s.

IBF (International Boxing Federation)

Founded: 1983

The IBF boxing belt is given by one of the four major boxing sanction bodies. The International Boxing Federation was the third boxing organization created alongside the WBA and WBC. It was founded by Robert W. “Bobby” Lee, Sr. who was then president of the United States Boxing Association. It was initially called USBA – International before it was renamed IBF.

WBO (World Boxing Organization)

Founded: 1988

The WBO boxing championship belt wasn’t initially considered as a world title but was eventually recognised in 2004. It’s the youngest among the four sanctioning bodies with headquarters located in Puerto Rico. 

Boxing Championship Titles

Lineal Champion

A lineal championship is probably the most common championship mechanics that we know of. In one weight class, a new champion is declared as to who has been able to defeat the current champion.

The current champion will only lose his title if he formally retires from boxing, moves to a new weight, and if they move to a new weight division.

Unified Champion

A unified champion is one who achieves a title from at least two world championship sanction bodies from the same weight division. (WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO)

Heavyweight boxing belts explained they are considered as unified champions when the boxer wins as a champion in at least a WBA and WBC, WBA and IBF, or WBA and WBO, and so forth.

Undisputed Champion

A boxer is considered an undisputed champion if he or she is a champion in all four boxing governing bodies.

Saved By The Bell 

According to the latest boxing statistics, television and gambling have helped make professional boxing what it is today. It’s been a huge change from having certificates of merit back in the 1950s and has now evolved to gold & leather belts, large cash prizes, and a world ranking to recognise a professional boxer’s achievements.


How many belts are there in boxing?

There are 4 major belts from the 4 governing bodies, namely WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO.

The Ring magazine belt came about from the American magazine founded by journalist Nat Fleischer in 1922. It has its own championship belt per weight class and is usually confused with the concept of a lineal championship.

Do boxers keep their belts?

Yes. Champion boxers get to permanently keep their belts even after they have lost their titles. Say they won a WBC championship belt for the featherweight division and lost the title by the end of the year, the sanctioning body will produce a new one for the new champion.

Has any boxer ever held 4 belts?

Yes, when a boxer holds all 4 belts from the major bodies, they are considered as an undisputed champion

These boxing belts can be explained as boxers have been able to hold all four titles simultaneously under the same weight class.

Those who have qualified as such during the WBA–WBC–IBF–WBO era are the following:

Cruiserweight: Oleksandr Usyk

Super middleweight : Canelo Álvarez

Middleweight division: Marvin Hagler, Bernard Hopkins and Jermain Taylor

Light welterweight: Terence Crawford and Josh Taylor

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