What is the Difference Between WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO?
Many sports fans wonder what the differences between WBA, WBC and IBF and WBO champions are in boxing though. The simple answer is that there is no single leading boxing association to determine a “World Champion”, such as FIFA in football or the ATP in men’s tennis. Therefore, all the associations aim to put forward their own champions, each of whom declaring them to be the world’s best. To be the true undisputed champion, therefore, fighters need to navigate the alphabet soup of the boxing belts in order to try and claim all four belts. You’ll often see the WBO champion taking on the WBC champion and so on, putting their belts on the line with the winner claiming both belts in the quest of unifying the belts.
Undisputed champions are something of a rarity – especially in the Heavyweight division. In the past decade, only cruiserweight Oleksander Uysk and light welterweight Terrence Crawford have held the accolade in the men’s game, while lightweight Katie Taylor and welterweight Cecilia Brækhus and middleweight Claressa Shields have done so in the women’s side. The promotional nature of boxing can also cause problems in the sport, with top fighters often not fighting each other in their prime as they both hold out for the best deal and sometimes this even leads to the top boxers not actually meeting. Prime examples of this have included Felix Trinidad and Ike Quartey, Sugar Ray Leonard and Aaron Pryor, Roy Jones Jr and Nigel Benn, while Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao didn’t take place until the fighters were past their best.
In the following sections, we’ll take at the biggest boxing organisations, as well as some of the top fighters in each of the weight divisions to help you get a better understanding of the sport and therefore give you best chance of placing successful in the future.