What is the Difference Between WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO?
If you’ve ever tuned into a boxing match, outside of the spectacle of a televised fight, the discussion around belts and different champions has surely peaked your interest. Unlike most sporting competitions where fixed leagues, tournaments, or cups are at the center of a competition, associations in boxing, the four largest being the WBA, WBC, WBO, and IBF, operate as individual organizations with very little overlap and cooperation. As you can imagine, this leads to an environment where the competition between the associations is just as fierce as the one taking place in the ring!
A fighter can only truly be the undisputed champion of the world once they’ve collected all four belts within their weight class. A task that’s made even more difficult thanks to behind-the-scenes politics between associations and promoters. Notwithstanding, the elite level of boxing talent held by fighters at the top of each organizations.
As I’m sure you’ve surmised, to become undisputed is a rank that few fighters have reached in the modern era. At the time of writing, only five fighters have managed to achieve the rank of undisputed champion.
Men: Cruiserweight Oleksander Usyk and Light Welterweight Terrence Crawford
Women: Lightweight Katie Taylor, Welterweight Cecilia Brækhus, and Middleweight Claressa Shields.
Another factor standing in the way of unification bouts is simple economics. The climb up the ladder to a championship is long and arduous. Most fighters will never hold championships belts and therefore are unlikely to land lucrative fight contracts. Moreover, without a belt, fighters are unable to land high-profile brand sponsorships and PPV deals further limiting their earning potential. Case in point, Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao. Ask any fight fan and they’ll tell you that this destined bout happened five years too late. If you’re to query the fighters and their promoters, a single mention of their reported paydays (Mayweather pulled in an astonishing $300 million) will immediately put things into perspective. It pays to be top dog, literally. If we’ve thrown you for a loop, not to worry. Read on for a comprehensive breakdown of each boxing association, a current overview of some of the best fighters, and a few interesting insights that should go a long way in your efforts to be a successful sports bettor.