Undisputed champion

In professional boxing, the undisputed champion of a weight class is usually a boxer who is recognized as the world champion at that class by each boxing organization,[1][2] However, there are no officially declared necessary conditions needed to become an undisputed champion, as the major boxing organizations refer to all boxers holding at least two world titles in their respective division as "unified champions".[3][4][5]

History[]

Prior to the 1960s, most champions were "undisputed",[6] although the term was rarely used (it does not appear in one 1970 Boxing Dictionary).[7] Early boxing champions at various weight divisions were established by acclamation between 1880 and 1920. Once a consensus champion had been awarded the title, the championship could usually be taken only by beating the reigning holder, establishing a lineal championship.

The New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) recognized champions from its foundation in 1920.[8] The National Boxing Association (NBA) was founded by other U.S. state bodies in 1921, and began recognising champions in 1927.[8] Until the 1960s, both usually recognised the same lineal champion.[6] However, disputes could arise if the champion retired or moved to a different weight class. Occasionally, the International Boxing Union (renamed the European Boxing Union in 1946) recognised a different champion. The disputes were usually short-lived as a lucrative fight would be organised between the rival champions. The longest split was ten years, of the middleweight title, between Mickey Walker's move up to heavyweight in 1931 and NBA champion Tony Zale's defeat of NYSAC contender Georgie Abrams in 1941.[9] An early use of "undisputed" appears in a New York Times preview of the 1941 fight.[10]

The growing popularity of boxing outside of the USA led to creation of various boxing organizations, each strengthening their influence (most notably BBBofC) and having their own champion. This resulted in a growing number of boxers claiming to be legitimate champions. The disruption in boxing was solved after the World War II when the World Championship Committee (WCC) was created with NBA as its unanimous authority. The committee, however, was disbanded in 1955 when NBA, along with its new members (which included the Orient, Mexican and South American federations and boxing commissions of the Philippines and Thailand) left WCC citing lack of control over the organisation. The NBA's voting scheme guaranteed one vote for each state commission as well as one vote for each foreign country.[11][12] On August 23, 1962, the NBA officially became the World Boxing Association and moved their headquarters to Panama City, Panama.

A year later NYSAC along with European Boxing Union and BBBofC supported creation of the World Boxing Council. WBC was officially established on February 14, 1963, in Mexico City, Mexico by 11 countries (the United States, Puerto Rico, Argentina, United Kingdom, France, Mexico, Philippines, Panama, Chile, Peru, Venezuela and Brazil) that were invited by the President of Mexico Adolfo López Mateos to form an international organization to unify all commissions of the world to control the expansion of boxing.[13] The reason for the move were concerns about WBA's alleged lack of desire to support professional boxing outside of the USA.[14]

In April 1983, members of United States Boxing Association along with Robert W. Lee (a former WBA vice-president) voted to expand the organisation and form the USBA-International. The organization later changed the name to International Boxing Federation.[15] The inaugural IBF Heavyweight Champion was Larry Holmes, who relinquished the WBC title to accept IBF's recognition, thus helping the newly formed organization to establish its legitimacy.[16] The fragmentation of titles was thus increased. After some negotiations, the heavyweight title was unified in a series of co-ordinated bouts in 1985–87, with Mike Tyson emerging as the first undisputed champion (WBC, WBA & IBF) since Leon Spinks in 1978.[17] The title was split again in 1992 when Riddick Bowe forfeited the WBC title.

Another major sanctioning body, the World Boxing Organisation, was established in 1988 in San Juan, Puerto Rico by a group of local businessmen. At the beginnings, when most of the challengers for WBA, WBC and IBF titles were Americans, WBO had a wider variety of countries, mainly European, represented in title bouts. Before the Klitschko Era, United Kingdom tied USA for most wins in WBO Heavyweight title fights with 8.[18] By 2001, the WBA was giving the same recognition to WBO champions as to WBA, WBC and IBF champions.[19] In 2004, the WBC began naming WBO champions on its ranking listings.[20] The IBF did not recognise the WBO in May 2006,[21] but was doing so by February 2007.[22] Conversely, the WBO explicitly recognises the other three sanctioning bodies.[23]

Some sources consider the WBO title necessary for an undisputed champion.[24][25][26][27] Others continue to consider it sufficient to hold the WBA, WBC, and IBF titles.[28][29][30] Other bodies such as the IBO, IBU, and World Boxing Foundation are disregarded.

Disputed undisputed champions[]

If a fighter wins all the titles but is stripped by one organization of its title, he may continue to be considered the undisputed champion.

Roy Jones Jr. was spuriously promoted as the undisputed light heavyweight champion by HBO after unifying the WBA, WBC and IBF titles in June 1999, for which he was also awarded The Ring championship title in 2002. However, two of those belts (WBA and IBF) had been stripped from Dariusz Michalczewski, who had unified them with his WBO title by beating the Lineal champion Virgil Hill in June 1997, and subsequently remained unbeaten, defending his remaining belt until 2004.[31] Speaking of Jones' claim to being undisputed champion, one writer opined that the distinction "could just as easily belong to current WBO titlist Dariusz Michalczewski."[32]

Five months after Lennox Lewis unified the WBC, IBF and WBA belts to become the undisputed heavyweight champion, a U.S. Federal Judge ruled that Lewis would be stripped by the WBA of their world championship belt for fighting Michael Grant instead of the association's #1 contender, John Ruiz. The fight took place on April 29, 2000. Lewis remained a unified world champion until April 22, 2001, when he was defeated by Hasim Rahman. He regained the WBC and IBF belts following victory over Rahman seven months later in a rematch. His reign as a unified world champion ended in September 2002, when he rejected the chance to fight the IBF's #1 contender, Chris Byrd, and was therefore stripped by the organisation of their belt. He retained his WBC belt until his retirement in February 2004.

Jermain Taylor won all four middleweight belts from Bernard Hopkins in July 2005, but was stripped of the IBF title for agreeing to a rematch rather than fighting Sam Soliman.[33] Nevertheless, he was still described as "undisputed champion" by some reports.[34][35]

After Joe Calzaghe's super middleweight victory over Mikkel Kessler in November 2007, he was frequently described as "undisputed champion".[36][37][38][39] Others disputed this, because although he held the WBA, WBC, and WBO belts, he vacated his IBF title in November 2006 rather than face a mandatory challenger, and immediately vacated other titles as well.[24][40][41]

Unified champion[]

WBA Super Championship belt

The unified champion is defined as a boxer that holds at least two world championships of major sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBC, WBO or IBF) in their respective division.[3][5][4] Around 2004, the World Boxing Association recognized three different types: the unified champion (two-titles holder in the weight division or category, obliged to defend the title against WBA's No. 1 contender in 18 months periodically), the undisputed champion (three-titles holder, mandatory defense against WBA's challenger in 21 months regularly) and the Super champion (four-titles holder, WBA's mandatory defense in 24 months periodically). The rules required only one unified/undisputed/Super champion per weight class and the purse in the bid would be distributed in a 65/35 ratio in favor of the unified champion.[42] However, along with the changes to "Super" status (besided holding more than one title, the Super belts were awarded to champions that were able to defend the WBA title 5 times),[5] the term "undisputed" was dropped completely.

Current unified champions[]

As of 3 August 2018
Weight class Champion Recognition Consec. defenses Reign began
Minimumweight vacant
Light flyweight vacant
Flyweight vacant
Super flyweight vacant
Bantamweight vacant
Super bantamweight vacant
Featherweight vacant
Super featherweight vacant
Lightweight  Mikey Garcia (USA) WBC, IBF 0 July 28, 2018
Super lightweight vacant
Welterweight vacant
Super welterweight  Jarrett Hurd (USA) WBA, IBF 0 April 7, 2018
Middleweight  Canelo Álvarez (MEX) WBA, WBC 0 September 15, 2018
Super middleweight Vacant
Light heavyweight Vacant
Cruiserweight  Oleksandr Usyk (UKR) WBA, IBF, WBC, WBO 1 January 27, 2018
Heavyweight  Anthony Joshua (UK) WBA, IBF, WBO 2 April 29, 2017

Most wins in unified championship bouts[]

Keys:

     Active title reign
     Reign has ended
Wladimir Klitschko won the unified championship in 2008 and defended it 14 times
Name Title recognition Division Title bout wins
1. Ukraine Wladimir Klitschko WBA, WBO, IBF Heavyweight 15
2. Cuba José Nápoles WBA, WBC Welterweight 14
United States Muhammad Ali WBA, WBC Heavyweight
4. United States Marvin Hagler WBA, WBC, IBF Middleweight 13
5. Argentina Carlos Monzón WBA, WBC Middleweight 12
United States Roy Jones Jr. WBA, WBC, IBF Light heavyweight
7. United States Evander Holyfield WBA, WBC, IBF Heavyweight
Cruiserweight
11
8. United States Bob Foster WBA, WBC Light heavyweight 10
Puerto Rico Carlos Ortiz WBA, WBC Lightweight
10. United States Bernard Hopkins WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF Light heavyweight
Middleweight
9
United States Mike Tyson WBA, WBC, IBF Heavyweight
12. United States Virgin Islands Emile Griffith WBA, WBC Middleweight
Welterweight
8
Italy Nino Benvenuti WBA, WBC Middleweight
Light middleweight
Mexico Vicente Saldivar WBA, WBC Featherweight
15. United States Pernell Whitaker WBA, WBC, IBF Lightweight 7
16. United Kingdom Lennox Lewis WBA, WBC, IBF Heavyweight 6
Mexico Juan Manuel Márquez WBA, WBO, IBF Super featherweight
Featherweight
Philippines Gabriel Elorde WBA, WBC Super featherweight
Mexico Rubén Olivares WBA, WBC Bantamweight
20. United States Floyd Mayweather Jr. WBA, WBC Light middleweight
Welterweight
5
Nigeria Dick Tiger WBA, WBC Light heavyweight
Middleweight
Russia Sergey Kovalev WBA, WBO, IBF Light heavyweight
Kazakhstan Gennady Golovkin WBA, WBC, IBF Middleweight
Japan Fighting Harada WBA, WBC Bantamweight
United States Joe Frazier WBA, WBC Heavyweight
Australia Kostya Tszyu WBA, WBC Light welterweight
Germany Sven Ottke WBA, IBF Super middleweight
United States Terry Norris WBC, IBF Light middleweight
29. United States Andre Ward WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF Light heavyweight
Super middleweight
4
Mexico Julio César Chávez WBA, WBC, IBF Light welterweight
Lightweight
United States Terence Crawford WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF Light welterweight
Armenia Vic Darchinyan WBA, WBC, IBF Super Flyweight
United States George Foreman WBA, WBC, IBF Heavyweight
Cuba Guillermo Rigondeaux WBA, WBO Super bantamweight
Mexico Humberto González WBC, IBF Light Flyweight
United Kingdom Naseem Hamed WBC, IBF Featherweight

Most consecutive defenses of unified title[]

Keys:

     Active title reign
     Reign has ended
Muhammad Ali defended the unified heavyweight championship 10 times; the record was unbeaten for 36 years
Name Title recognition Division Consec. defenses
1. Ukraine Wladimir Klitschko WBA, WBO, IBF Heavyweight 14
2. United States Marvin Hagler WBA, WBC, IBF Middleweight 12
3. United States Muhammad Ali WBA, WBC Heavyweight 10
United States Roy Jones Jr. WBA, WBC, IBF Light heavyweight
5. Argentina Carlos Monzón WBA, WBC Middleweight 9
6. United States Mike Tyson WBA, WBC, IBF Heavyweight 8
7. United States Bernard Hopkins WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF Middleweight 7
Mexico Vicente Saldivar WBA, WBC Featherweight
9. Cuba José Nápoles WBA, WBC Welterweight 6
United States Pernell Whitaker WBA, WBC, IBF Lightweight
11. United States Bob Foster WBA, WBC Light heavyweight 5
Kazakhstan Gennady Golovkin WBA, WBC, IBF Middleweight
Puerto Rico Carlos Ortiz WBA, WBC Lightweight
Philippines Gabriel Elorde WBA, WBC Super featherweight
15. Italy Nino Benvenuti WBA, WBC Middleweight 4
Russia Sergey Kovalev WBA, WBO, IBF Light heavyweight
Japan Fighting Harada WBA, WBC Bantamweight
United States Joe Frazier WBA, WBC Heavyweight
Australia Kostya Tszyu WBA, WBC Light welterweight
Germany Sven Ottke WBA, IBF Super middleweight
United States Terry Norris WBC, IBF Light middleweight
22. United States Floyd Mayweather Jr. WBA, WBC Welterweight 3
United States Evander Holyfield WBA, WBC, IBF Heavyweight
United States Terence Crawford WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF Light welterweight
Mexico Humberto González WBC, IBF Light Flyweight
Mexico Juan Manuel Márquez WBA, IBF Featherweight
Armenia Vic Darchinyan WBA, WBC, IBF Super Flyweight
United Kingdom Lennox Lewis WBC, IBF Heavyweight
Cuba Guillermo Rigondeaux WBA, WBO Super bantamweight

See also[]

References[]

  1. ^ Holyfield, Evander; Gruenfeld, Lee (2008). Becoming Holyfield: A Fighter's Journey. Simon & Schuster. p. 123. ISBN 1-4165-3486-5. 
  2. ^ "Boxing". Encarta. p. 5 "Professional Boxing". Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-14. If one fighter manages to capture the titles of all the major organizations at once, this is known as "unifying" the title and the boxer is the "undisputed" champion. 
  3. ^ a b International Boxing Federation rules: governing championship contests
  4. ^ a b World Boxing Organization: regulation of world championship contests
  5. ^ a b c World Boxing Association rules and regulations
  6. ^ a b Morrison, Ian (1990). The Guinness World Championship Boxing book. Guinness Publishing. pp. 126–137. ISBN 0-85112-900-5. 
  7. ^ Avis, Frederick Compton (1970). Boxing Dictionary (2nd ed.). p. 141. ISBN 0-211-26839-9. 
  8. ^ a b Morrison, pp.14–15
  9. ^ Fleischer, Nat; Andre, Sam (1998) [1959]. A pictorial history of boxing. rev. Nat Loubet, Gilbert Odd, Peter Arnold, Nigel Collins. Hamlyn. pp. 230–235. ISBN 0-600-59521-8. 
  10. ^ Dawson, James P. (25 November 1941). "Phelan to check on title rivals". New York Times. p. 34. Retrieved 2008-11-20. 
  11. ^ Reveille vol. 38, Nov. 4, 1964 (p. 23)
  12. ^ James B. Roberts,Alexander G. Skutt: The Boxing Register: International Boxing Hall of Fame Official Record Book (p. 50)
  13. ^ "History of the WBC". World Boxing Council. Retrieved 2017-10-11. 
  14. ^ John Sugden: Boxing and Society: An International Analysis (p. 49)
  15. ^ "History of IBF/USBA". International Boxing Federation. Retrieved 2017-10-11. 
  16. ^ "IBF/USBA History". IBF. Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  17. ^ Berger, Phil (August 2, 1987). "Tyson undisputed and unanimous titlist". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-14. 
  18. ^ former champion Michael Bentt holds both British and American citizenship.
  19. ^ "Super championships guidelines". WBA. Archived from the original on 2001-11-19. Retrieved 2008-11-14. 
  20. ^ Compare
    "WBC Bantamweight Ratings (incl. WBO)". WBC. Archived from the original on 2004-08-03. Retrieved 2008-11-15.  and
    "WBC Bantamweight Ratings (excl. WBO)". WBC. Archived from the original on 2004-02-04. Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  21. ^ "IBF/USBA Rules Governing Championship Contests" (PDF). pp.10–11. IBF. May 2006. Retrieved 2008-11-15. For the purpose of unification of titles, the Champions of the World Boxing Association ("WBA") and the World Boxing Council ("WBC") may be designated as "elite contenders" and may be permitted to fight for the unified title. Unification bouts with other organizations will be considered on a case to case basis. 
  22. ^ "IBF Ratings". IBF. February 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-02-02. Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  23. ^ "§7 unification bouts and unification tournaments as mandatory title bouts". Regulations of World Championship Contests (PDF). WBO. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2008-11-14. 
  24. ^ a b Gonzalez, Frank, Jr. (November 3, 2007). "Sharkie's Machine: Joe Calzaghe Too Slick For Mikkel Kessler". eastsideboxing.com. Retrieved 2008-11-10. Joe Calzaghe, who is now the closest to being the undisputed Super Middleweight Champion of the World. (There's still the IBF Title if he's to have all four of the most recognized belts.) 
  25. ^ "Klitschko wants undisputed status". BBC News. 12 November 2006. Retrieved 2008-11-14. "It doesn't matter with whom - (WBA champion Nikolai) Valuev, (WBO title holder) Shannon Briggs or (WBC champion Oleg) Maskaev," Klitschko said. 
  26. ^ Borges, Ron (October 12, 2007). "Holyfield never lost hope in retiring 'undisputed'". ESPN. Retrieved 2008-11-14. one of the four belts he needs to fulfill his final fistic dream 
  27. ^ Smith, Tim (February 24, 2008). "Size matters: Klitschko belts Ibragimov". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2008-11-14. 
  28. ^ Shields, Ronnie; Jones, Robert. "Interview with Evander Holyfield's Trainer Ronnie Shields". fightnightnews.com. Archived from the original on May 26, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-14. He wants to be undisputed, so that means he's got three belts out there that he wants. WBA, WBC, and IBF, those are the titles he wants. 
  29. ^ Daniels, Eddie (February 1, 2008). "Campbell Ready To Put On Show". Tampa Tribune. Retrieved 2008-11-14. Antonio Tarver has made his quest to add to his IBO light heavyweight title a playoff-like system. / "Right now, my goal is three fights, three belts, undisputed by the end of the year," Tarver said. / Round 1 begins April 12 against Clinton Woods at the St. Pete Times Forum. According to Tarver, he'll take Woods' IBF lightweight title, then he's going after Danny Green's WBA light heavyweight belt. After that, he'll take on the winner of the Chad Dawson-Glen Johnson fight, which on the undercard of his bout with Woods, for the WBC belt. 
  30. ^ Cox, Jesse K. (January 19, 2006). "Waiting for Zab Judah". thesweetscience.com. Archived from the original on May 16, 2007. Retrieved 2008-11-14. the undisputed welterweight champion of the world – owner of the IBF, WBC and WBA belts 
  31. ^ "The Lineal Light Heavyweight Champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia. 
  32. ^ Steve Kim (September 26, 2002). "The Disputed Light Heavyweight Champion of the World". Max Boxing. Retrieved 2008-11-15. 
  33. ^ "Taylor drops IBF belt for Hopkins". BBC News. 12 October 2005. Retrieved 2008-11-14. 
  34. ^ Raphael, Dan (December 9, 2005). "Taylor-Wright might be a summer date". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2008-11-14. Wright would rather be facing undisputed middleweight champ Jermain Taylor. 
  35. ^ "Taylor retains undisputed title". Sporting Life. Retrieved 2008-11-14. 
  36. ^ Johnson, Chuck (2007-11-03). "Calzaghe beats Kessler to unify belts, eyes Hopkins". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-11-10. 
  37. ^ Paul Upham (November 4, 2007). "Calzaghe Outboxes Kessler To Become Undisputed World Champion". SecondsOut.com. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  38. ^ Staniforth, Mark (4 November 2007). "Battler Calzaghe triumphs against Kessler". The Independent on Sunday. PA Sport. Retrieved 2008-11-10. Joe Calzaghe was crowned undisputed world super-middleweight champion in Cardiff tonight 
  39. ^ "Calzaghe the king in Cardiff Welshman wows his home crowd with points win over great Dane". Sky Sports. 4 November 2007. Archived from the original on 12 January 2009. Retrieved 2008-11-10. 
  40. ^ Kimball, George (November 11, 2007). "Calzaghe's plans quickly Executed". Boston Herald. Retrieved 2008-11-10. Lucien Bute, whose claim to the International Boxing Federation title is all that stands between the Welshman and undisputed world champion status 
  41. ^ Swann, Michael (3 November 2008). "Darchinyan keeps promise, silences critics". 15rounds.com. Retrieved 2008-11-14. Since when has holding the three major belts not been considered worthy of "undisputed?" 
  42. ^ World Boxing Association rules and regulations, January 2004