Why Are There So Many Boxing Belts? (Comprehensive Guide)

If you’re wondering why there are loads of championship belts and titles in boxing and if is there even any difference between them, Here, I’ll try to open up this mystery and dig deeper into the significance of each of the boxing belts.

So, Why Does Boxing Have So Many Belts?

Boxing has so many belts because there is no single governing body that decides the rules and promotes the long-term future of the game. Due to internal conflicts and financial interests, there are more than 5 sanctioning authorities in boxing that have their own championship titles in each weight class.

In this article, I’ll explain exactly how many belts are there in boxing, and which is the most prestigious boxing title. Stay Tuned:

How Many Boxing Belts Are There?

Boxing, unlike most other sports, doesn’t have a single authority body that establishes the standard rules and promotes them for the long-term future of the game.

There are a total of 5 recognized boxing belts in the professional boxing championship. Each of these sanctioning bodies offers their belts for each of the 17 weight divisions.

That means, there are whopping 68 important boxing belts are there in the profession of boxing, which can easily confuse even the most crazy fans of boxing.

IBF, WBO, WBC, and WBA are the top sanctioning bodies that honor boxers with these major belts. And fifth belt “The Ring” is awarded by the American Magazine but they abolished awarding belt in 1990 and re-introduced their titles again in 2002.

different boxing sanctioning bodies

There are also other governing bodies such as WBU (World Boxing Union) and IBO (International Boxing Organization) who also declare their belt holders as the ” World Champions” however their belts are considered a fringe title.

So, if a boxer holds the WBA title along with any other organization belt, they are proclaimed as Super World Champions. Whereas the other two rank-holder contestants fight again to win the “Regular World Champions” title.

In addition to this:

WBC also awards boxers with an “Emeritus Title” to honor a retired champion, the newly introduced “Diamond Belt” was given to historic fight winners, and Interim Belt, which was given to a boxer if the reigning champion is not able to fight a match due to injury or some other reason.

Also Read: Is boxing good for Self-defense?

Why Are There So Many Sanctioning Bodies in Boxing?

There are mainly 4 major sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO) in boxing due to internal conflicts of interest in boxing associations regarding boxing rules and regulations.

Basically, a group of high authorities not liked the way how organization ranked the boxers so they left and start their own governing body. They mostly come up with their own set of rules, rank the fighters according to their own way, and introduce new championship titles.

Their financial interest is also one of the major reasons here because boxing is growing like crazy and slowly becoming an industry in itself.

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 re-match fees.

As viewership gets highly attracted to the contest branded as the “World Title Championship”, more and more such fights are organized to get benefited from good sponsorship deals.

To be honest, Personally, I think this whole system is politically corrupted. These things are going to keep happening, making the boxing landscape even more complicated.

Boxing Belts in Order of Prestige

  1. WBC (World Boxing Council)
  2. IBF ( International Boxing Federation)
  3. WBA (World Boxing Association)
  4. WBO (World Boxing Organization)
  5. IBO (International Boxing Organization)
  6. WBU (World Boxing Union)

Here’s a little history behind major authority bodies in boxing:

1. World Boxing Association

WBA has been founded in 1992 in the United States and it is the oldest and one of the most important organizations in the boxing championship. But WBA has been struck into controversy due to charges of corruption and fraud.

In 1982 one of the promoters claimed that WBA gives false ranking to boxers by taking money. Thus participants start losing trust and faith in the association and new sanctioning bodies start emerging.

2. World Boxing Council

WBC title is considered the most reputable boxing belt as many boxers like Floyd Mayweather, Muhammad Ali, and Sugar Leonard had to hold it.

It was introduced in 1963 in Mexico just one year after the formation of WBA. Every boxer wants to hold this belt and thus most high-profile and tough matches were seen in this organization.

However, the WBC is not free from controversies and corruption claims. There are many allegations against them regarding hosting high-profile and falsy competitive boxing matches.

3. International Boxing Federation

IBF was made by Bob Lee along with his supporters when he failed to become a WBA president. This organization was introduced in 1983 by the United State Boxing Council (USBA). A famous boxing champion Marvel Camel was the first boxer to win the IBF belt. The headquarters of IBF is currently located in New Jersey, USA.

4. World Boxing Organization

A group of businessmen broke out from WBA due to internal conflicts and disagreements and make their separate governing body in 1988 named WBO.

Lightweight long-reigning champions Chris Eubanks and Naseem Hameed increase the prestige and fame of this organization. Joseph Parker and Billy Saunders are also famous boxers who hold the WBO belt.

Which Is The Most Prestigious Boxing Belt?

As a whole, the championship belt of the WBC title is considered the most prestigious and reputable title by the majority of the boxing audience. In general, fans are always excited about every world championship bout and consider all organizations’ boxing belts as a major titles.

Even if WBA was the first introduced body but still somewhere IBF also has more prestige than it. Even though all governing bodies were stuck in corruption claims but the WBA had a more controversial scandal and thus it is overall behind in the reputation game.

IBF and WBU are also getting famous for their World Championship but many boxing fans think that four recognized governing bodies are more than enough for boxing.

Does Boxing Need to Change?

Over the last few years, people are losing interest in boxing and instead moving more towards MMA or UFC to be more specific.

The key reason behind this change is the core structure of both the sports themselves.

boxing vs ufc trend
Boxing (blue) Vs UFC (red) : Trend from 2004 – Present

Some of the biggest names in boxing spent their almost whole career dominating their weight class and collecting titles, while their main competitor gets the same title to brag about from another sanctioning body.

Such scenarios are rarely seen in MMA matches. Due to the UFC’s dominance and fewer weight classes, fighters have no choice but to face the most deserving challenger multiple times a year to save their “CHAMPIONSHIP” title.

Unfortunately, due to boxing politics, as long as those four major sanctioning bodies are making money, I don’t think it’s going to change. And as a fan, we’ll continue to see multiple boxers claiming to be the best in the same weight class.

My Final Thought

All the five governing bodies charge fees for every title fight and that’s the reason they keep introducing new world championships competitions.

It’s very sad that these organization doesn’t leave a single chance to screw a penny from boxers. Can you believe they even charge boxers for their elimination matches? I mean, really?

Along with the number of governing authorities, there is one more factor that contributes to the overall increase in the world championship belts and that is weight classes.

But: We can’t really complain about it because it will be really unfair to arrange a fight between 115 Ibs and 210 lbs boxers. So the organization has to arrange fights according to weight divisions which increases the number of overall belts in boxing.

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Priya Dorge | Cargofighter

Priya Dorge

Priya Dorge is a passionate boxer and author, dedicated to sharing her expertise in the world of combat sports. With her deep knowledge and experience in empowering individuals in their journey has garnered a loyal following, making her a trusted resource in the martial arts community.