Different championship belts in boxing can signify many different things and mostly they can seem confusing to beginner boxers.
Here’s what you need to know about boxing belts:
1. Why Are There so Many Boxing Belts?
Boxing does not have a single authority body that decides the rules and promotes them for the long-term future of the game. There are 4 major sanctioning bodies and have their own titles in each weight division.
All these bodies rarely agree to work together as they typically get to charge around 3 percent sanction fees and a great in-line of cash from fights named as “World Title Championship”.
What Are the 5 Boxing Belts?
There are four major sanctioning bodies in boxing and each one has its own championship titles in each of 17 weight divisions.
Founded in 1962, World Boxing Association (WBA) is the oldest and one of the major organizations in the boxing world. In WBA, there are two belts: Regular Champion and Super Champion.
If a fighter only holds a title from the WBA, it is considered as a regular champion whereas if the fighter won a championship belt from any of the other major organizations too, then it is awarded a tag of the super champion.
First Established in 1963, World Boxing Council (WBC) is considered as one of the most prestigious world championship titles. Some of the high-profile players including Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Floyd Mayweather held a WBC belt.
They came up with the Diamond belt that is given to the winner of the historic fights. WBC Eternal Championship is another prestigious title that is awarded to the boxer who never lose a world title fight and retired undefeated.
International Boxing Federation (IBF) was created in 1983 as a direct response to bob lee’s failure to become a WBA president.
There is grand total of 17 titles in IBF (from mini flyweight to heavyweight) based on the standard 17 weight divisions but Marvin Camel was the first world champion who won the first IBF’s belt.
The world boxing organization (WBO) is formed in 1988 as a part divided from WBA after some dispute over rules.
In the 1990s, many long-reigning champions including Chris Eubank, Johnny Tapia, and Naseem Hamed gave more prestige to WBA titles in the light-weight championships.
Although it is not a sanctioning body, The Ring Magazine is another publication that has been awarding champions for a very long time. The Ring Champion is termed as one of the most prestigious titles and many fans trust their ranking as there are no sanctioning fees involved in the process.
They determine their rigid set of requirements and offers this title to those players only who fulfill their criteria and is the greatest champion in their own weight class.
2. How Much Are Boxing Belts Worth?
Despite there being countless boxing belts, but they all do not possess the same worth.
On average, boxing belts are worth about $3000 to $4000 on the lower side. There are two most expensive belts in boxing history (Money Belt and Diamond-Encrusted Belt) that costs more than $1 million dollars.
3. Do Boxing Belts Have Real Gold?
Boxing belts are made from a solid real gold combined with a genuine leather strap.
Most of the time, two belts are given to the champion: The real belt is made out of real gold, and another one is made from gold-plated aluminum.
Champions usually put the real one in their home and travel with the gold-plated belts.
4. Do Boxers Have to Pay for Their Belts?
Boxers have to pay for every belt they won under the name of sanctioning fees to the authority bodies.
On average, on a gross earning of $100,000, the champion usually pays around $3000 of fees whereas the challenger needs to pay $1000.
This fee seems to be very unfair because sanctioning bodies are not the promoter and they aren’t involved in the expenses of fighters like travel, promotion, venue, etc.
That’s why in one interview, a popular boxer Mayweather said: Sanctioning fee on the championship belts is very bad for the boxing future and need to revert by sanctioning bodies.
5. How do Boxing Belts Get Split up?
There are a few situations where belts get split up and considered vacant:
The sanctioning body that owns the belt has its own rules like for how much time a champion can hold on to a belt without defending a fight. Sometimes, champions move on to other weight divisions and don’t return back to defend their boxing belt.
Also, if boxers violate any of their other rules, (For ex: Refusing to fight with their top challenger), the sanctioning body can revoke their championship belt.
One more situation where boxing belts may get split up is when the champion retires. In this case, each of the four authority bodies has their own ways to decide the next champion.
6. Which Boxer Has the Most Belts?
Manny Pacquiao is the only champion boxer in the world that won 12 major world titles in 8 different weight divisions.
9 out of those 12 titles are from the 4 major sanctioning bodies (WBC, WBO, IBC, WBA) and the remaining three are given by The Ring magazine.
7. Do Boxers Keep Their Belts After Retirement?
Boxers do keep their championship belts even after their retirement. Although Committee will schedule a new title match between two new boxers to choose the new champion, but a new boxing belt is designed for the champion.
If you find this article helpful, Do share it with your friends who are always excited about boxing matches.