One of the major problems that the boxing world faces is the lack of a single organization that can represent boxing with one voice. Unlike other major professional sports, there is not one entity that has a de facto monopoly over the industry.
In boxing there are several organizations that award belts to champions. The four major ones are: The World Boxing Association (WBA), The World Boxing Council (WBC), The International Boxing Federation (IBF), and the World Boxing Organization (WBO). Here are some distinguishing facts between the four:
The World Boxing Association
- Formed in 1921, the WBA is the oldest of the four major organizations
- There can be up to 4 “WBA World Champions” in each of its weight divisions—there is no sole recognition as a Champion in a weight division because of this
- Most prestigious of the 4 designations is “WBA Super Champion”—the current WBA Super Champion in the heavyweight division is Trevor Bryan
The World Boxing Council
- The WBC was formed in 1963 with the intent of unifying several international boxing organizations, to provide more legitimacy to an international champion
- There are currently 161 countries that are WBC members
- Dillian Whyte is the current interim WBC heavyweight champion
The International Boxing Federation
- The IBF was formed in New Jersey in 1983, by the president of the United States Boxing Association after he lost his bid to become president of the WBA
- Since its formation, the IBF has received multiple accusations of involvement in bribery, racketeering and extortion
- Anthony Joshua is the current IBF heavyweight champion
The World Boxing Organization
- The youngest of the four, the WBO was birthed in 1988 from a disagreement as to several rules that should govern in boxing
- Within the WBO is the World Championship Committee whose role is to choose a challenger for the current Champion to defend their belt against
- The current WBO heavyweight champion is Anthony Joshua
If you find the organization structure of boxing a bit confusing and admittedly overcomplicated, you are not alone. This sentiment has been echoed time and time again by experts, analysts and fans, and for good reason—the less cohesiveness in a sport, the less acclaim the deserved champion receives. Unified championship bouts do a bit to resolve this problem; however, it would be in boxing’s best interest to uniformly declare champions for each weight division among each of its main organizations.
In order to give the champions in each respective weight class the recognition they have earned it is imperative that boxing acknowledges its flaws. Even for avid followers, it is difficult to keep track of who has what belt, within which organization, and under what time frame. Other major sports that continue to flourish season after season do not have this problem. The NFL, the NBA, the NHL, FIFA, and the UFC, all maintain an agreement as to who the current champion is. Imagine if there was a global uniform boxing organization, managing all fights and claiming one champion for the entire sport in each weight class. It would be much easier, not only for the fans, but for casual watchers to name the current champions of the sport. The bottom line being: more uniformity = less convolution.