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boxing Boxing is a combat sport in which two people, usually wearing protective gloves and other protective equipment such as hand wraps and mouthguards, throw punches at each other for a predetermined amount of time in a boxing ring. Amateur boxing i ...
's beginning, the
heavyweight Heavyweight is a weight class in combat sports and professional wrestling. Boxing Professional Boxers who weigh over are considered heavyweights by 3 of the 4 major professional boxing organizations: the International Boxing Federation, the Worl ...
division had no weight limit, and historically the weight class has gone with vague or no definition. During the 19th century many heavyweights were 170 pounds (12 st 2 lb, 77 kg) or less, though others weighed considerably more. John L. Sullivan was the first widely recognized champion under
Marquess of Queensberry rules1877 ''Vanity Fair'' caricature of The 9th Marquess of Queensberry. The caption reads "A good light weight" The Marquess of Queensberry Rules, also known as Queensbury Rules, are a code of generally accepted rules in the sport of boxing. Drafted in ...
. Known as the "Boston Strong Boy," Sullivan weighed around 200 pounds when in shape, and helped transition the sport from its bare-knuckle era. Sullivan would be defeated for the title by "Gentleman" Jim Corbett over 21 rounds on September 7, 1892, the first heavyweight titleholder solely under Queensberry rules. In 1920 a de facto minimum weight for a heavyweight was set at 175 pounds (12 st 7 lb, 79 kg) with the standardization of a weight limit for the light heavyweight division. The addition of the cruiserweight division, which began in 1979, reset the de facto minimum, first to 190 pounds; and then again to 200 pounds in 2004 when boxing's major sanctioning bodies universally raised the weight limit at which they'd recognize champions. An effort is presently underway to establish an additional division at approximately 225 pounds, with the
International Boxing Organization The International Boxing Organization (IBO) is a non-profit organization that sanctions professional boxing matches and awards world and regional championships. It is often considered a "minor" world championship as it is not recognized as a majo ...
and
World Boxing Council The World Boxing Council (WBC) is one of four major organizations which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). Many historically ...
each announcing they would recognize champions in this new, "Super Cruiserweight" class. The championship of the heavyweight division has been fractured or disputed at various times in its history. Until the 1960s, such disputes were settled in the ring, typically with alternate title claimants largely being forgotten. The rise of sanctioning organizations, however, has produced an environment where typically there is no single "Heavyweight Champion of the World," with titleholders recognized by one of these organizations (a "World Champion") or more (a "Super Champion," "Unified Champion," or in the rare cases where the four most prominent organizations recognize the same boxer, an "Undisputed Champion"). Some title reigns are considered dubious due to long periods of inactivity, the legitimacy of the organization granting championship recognition, and other factors. In 1967 for example,
Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali (; born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.; January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer, activist, entertainer and philanthropist. Nicknamed The Greatest, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and c ...
was denied a boxing license in every U.S. jurisdiction and stripped of his passport due to his refusal to be inducted into the armed forces. On April 29, 1967 his recognition as champion by both the
World Boxing Association The World Boxing Association (WBA), formerly known as the National Boxing Association (NBA), is the oldest and one of four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxin ...
and
World Boxing Council The World Boxing Council (WBC) is one of four major organizations which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). Many historically ...
was withdrawn. Yet Ali remained the lineal champion, and was recognized by ''
The Ring magazine ''The Ring'' (often called ''The Ring'' magazine) is an American boxing magazine that was first published in 1922 as a boxing and wrestling magazine. As the sporting legitimacy of professional wrestling came more into question, ''The Ring'' shifte ...
'' and most boxing purists until defeated in
1970 Events January * January 1 ** Unix time epoch reached at 00:00:00 UTC. * January 5 – The 7.1 Tonghai earthquake shakes Tonghai County, Yunnan province, China, with a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (''Extreme''). Between 10,000 and 14,6 ...
. In pursuit of greater revenues, some organizations have now adopted a practice of simultaneously recognizing multiple champions in a weight division, creating a situation in which a champion may not only be unable to secure recognition from multiple sanctioning bodies, but to secure sole recognition from a single one.


Championship recognition


Public Acclamation: 1884 to 1921

Champions were recognized by wide public acclamation. A heavyweight champion was a boxer who had a notable win over another notable boxer, and who then went without defeat. Retirements from the ring periodically led to a "true" champion going unrecognized, or for several to be recognized by the public for periods of time. Typically, public interest in having a single, "true" champion resulted in any claimants to the heavyweight title being matched with one another; the winner of that bout was subsequently deemed the champion, with the claim (and title lineage) of the defeated boxer largely forgotten.


Sanctioning Bodies: 1921 to present

The
National Boxing Association The World Boxing Association (WBA), formerly known as the National Boxing Association (NBA), is the oldest and one of four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxin ...
(NBA), was formed in 1921 as the first organization aimed at regulating boxing on a national, and later global level. The prominence of
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the Northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * ''Ne ...

New York
as the epicenter of boxing would lead to a governmental entity, the powerful
New York State Athletic Commission The New York State Athletic Commission or NYSAC, also known as the New York Athletic Commission, is a division of the New York State Department of State which regulates all contests and exhibitions of unarmed combat within the state of New York, in ...
(NYSAC), to join the NBA in sanctioning bouts as "world championships." A third entity with lesser public recognition, the
European Boxing UnionThe European Boxing Union (or EBU) is a pan-European governing body that sanctions championship bouts in professional boxing. The EBU governs the most-prestigious continental title in Europe, the EBU European Championship, in addition to their EBU f ...
(EBU), would follow suit, with this triumvirate typically (but not always) recognizing the same boxers as world champions. At its 1962 convention the NBA's non-U.S. members exploited a membership rule and took control of the organization. Rebranding it the
World Boxing Association The World Boxing Association (WBA), formerly known as the National Boxing Association (NBA), is the oldest and one of four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxin ...
, the now-WBA would be joined a year later by a combination of state and national boxing commissions (including the NYSAC and IBU) to form a separate sanctioning body, the
World Boxing Council The World Boxing Council (WBC) is one of four major organizations which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). Many historically ...
(WBC). Each organization would later have a spin-off competing sanctioning body emerge: the
International Boxing Federation The International Boxing Federation (IBF) is one of four major organizations recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council ...
(IBF), which was formed by members of the
United States Boxing Association The International Boxing Federation (IBF) is one of four major organizations recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council ...
in 1983; and the
World Boxing Organization The World Boxing Organization (WBO) is an organization which sanctions professional boxing bouts. It is recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) as one of the four major world championship groups, alongside the World Boxing As ...
(WBO), which was formed in 1989. A fifth significant, but not as publicly accepted, body came in the form of the
International Boxing Organization The International Boxing Organization (IBO) is a non-profit organization that sanctions professional boxing matches and awards world and regional championships. It is often considered a "minor" world championship as it is not recognized as a majo ...
(IBO) in 1991; and today there are over a dozen sanctioning organizations, of varying degrees of public acceptance, sanctioning bouts as for a world championship and proclaiming their winners as "Heavyweight Champion of the World."


The Ring: 1922 to present

From its outset until the 1990s, and again since 2002, ''
The RingThe Ring may refer to: Written works * ''The Ring'', a 1967 novel by Richard Chopping * ''The Ring'', a 1988 book by Daniel Keys Moran * ''The Ring'', a 1980 novel by Danielle Steel, which formed the basis for the 1996 film * ''The Ring'', a 1964 c ...
'' has recognized heavyweight champions. Under its original policy a champion won the title either by defeating a recognized champion or winning a bout between the magazine's top-rated contenders. Once recognized as champion, championship recognition could be lost only by death, retirement, or loss. In 2012 these policies were revised so that a champion could be more readily recognized, and expanding the means by which championship recognition could be withdrawn (specifically, by not scheduling a fight with a top five rated contender for two years, or any bout at all for 18 months).


Current status of prominent championship titles

File:WBA CHAMPIONSHIP BELT.jpg, WBA world championship File:VitaliKlitschkoWBCbelt.jpg, WBC world championship File:IBFworldbelt.jpg, IBF world championship File:WBOBelt.jpg, WBO world championship File:Ringmagazine3.jpg, ''The Ring'' world championship
World Boxing Association The World Boxing Association (WBA), formerly known as the National Boxing Association (NBA), is the oldest and one of four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxin ...
The
World Boxing Association The World Boxing Association (WBA), formerly known as the National Boxing Association (NBA), is the oldest and one of four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxin ...
presently recognizes up to five distinct 'types' of champion in its weight divisions: a 'Super' Champion (one who holds the WBA title along with that of at least one other widely recognized sanctioning body), a 'Regular' Champion (one who holds the WBA title alone), an 'Interim' Champion (one who, ostensibly, holds the title during a period of illness or injury to a 'Super' or 'Regular' titleholder), a 'Champion in Recess' (a champion who retains some form of championship recognition, but for reasons beyond their own control are presently inactive), and a 'Gold' Champion (a designation which not even the organization's governing documents explain). The current status of these titles is as follows:
World Boxing Council The World Boxing Council (WBC) is one of four major organizations which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). Many historically ...
The
World Boxing Council The World Boxing Council (WBC) is one of four major organizations which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). Many historically ...
presently recognizes up to six distinct 'types' of champion in its weight divisions: a 'Franchise' Champion (one who holds the WBC title along with that of at least one other widely recognized sanctioning body; a distinction it has thus far only awarded once), a 'World' Champion (ostensibly one who holds the WBC title alone, but to date no unified champions in the heavyweight division have been attributed the 'Franchise' Champion status), an 'Interim' Champion (one who, ostensibly, holds the title during a period of illness or injury to the 'World' Champion), a 'Champion in Recess (a champion who retains some form of championship recognition, but who are presently inactive), and a 'Silver' Champion (a designation which has no clear distinction, but which nevertheless is recognized as a world championship-level title). The WBC also recognizes a 'Diamond' Champion in its divisions, but this title is apparently not afforded similar status as the other types. The current status of these titles is as follows:
International Boxing Federation The International Boxing Federation (IBF) is one of four major organizations recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council ...
The
International Boxing Federation The International Boxing Federation (IBF) is one of four major organizations recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council ...
recognizes but a single champion in the heavyweight division. *
Anthony Joshua Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, (born 15 October 1989) is a British professional boxer. He is a two-time unified world heavyweight champion, having held the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO titles since December 2019, and previously between 20 ...

Anthony Joshua
is recognized as the organization's world champion. He earned this distinction by defeating Andy Ruiz Jr. on December 7, 2019. Presently no defense of this title is scheduled, though there are talks of a unification bout with
Tyson Fury Tyson is both a surname and a masculine given name. Surname *Alan Tyson (1926–2000), British musicologist *Barbara Tyson (born 1964), Canadian actress *Bill Tyson, Irish writer and producer *Cathy Tyson (born 1965), British actress *Charles Tyson ...

Tyson Fury
that are currently ongoing.
International Boxing Organization The International Boxing Organization (IBO) is a non-profit organization that sanctions professional boxing matches and awards world and regional championships. It is often considered a "minor" world championship as it is not recognized as a majo ...
The
International Boxing Organization The International Boxing Organization (IBO) is a non-profit organization that sanctions professional boxing matches and awards world and regional championships. It is often considered a "minor" world championship as it is not recognized as a majo ...
recognizes but a single champion in each of its weight divisions. *
Anthony Joshua Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, (born 15 October 1989) is a British professional boxer. He is a two-time unified world heavyweight champion, having held the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO titles since December 2019, and previously between 20 ...

Anthony Joshua
is recognized as the organization's world champion. He earned this distinction by defeating Andy Ruiz Jr. on December 7, 2019. Presently no defense of this title is scheduled, though there are talks of a unification bout with
Tyson Fury Tyson is both a surname and a masculine given name. Surname *Alan Tyson (1926–2000), British musicologist *Barbara Tyson (born 1964), Canadian actress *Bill Tyson, Irish writer and producer *Cathy Tyson (born 1965), British actress *Charles Tyson ...

Tyson Fury
that are currently ongoing.
World Boxing Organization The World Boxing Organization (WBO) is an organization which sanctions professional boxing bouts. It is recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) as one of the four major world championship groups, alongside the World Boxing As ...
The
World Boxing Organization The World Boxing Organization (WBO) is an organization which sanctions professional boxing bouts. It is recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) as one of the four major world championship groups, alongside the World Boxing As ...
recognizes up to three distinct 'types' of champion in its weight divisions: a 'Super' Champion (one who holds the WBO title along with that of at least one other widely recognized sanctioning body), a 'World' Champion (though unlike the WBA, if a WBO 'Super' Champion exists a separate 'World' Champion is not simultaneously recognized), and an 'Interim' Champion (one who holds the title during a period of illness or injury to the 'Super' or 'World' Champion). At present however, there is a single titleholder:
Anthony Joshua Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, (born 15 October 1989) is a British professional boxer. He is a two-time unified world heavyweight champion, having held the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO titles since December 2019, and previously between 20 ...

Anthony Joshua
, who is officially recognized as its 'Super' Champion after defeating Andy Ruiz Jr. on December 7, 2019. No defense of this title has been formalized. ''
The RingThe Ring may refer to: Written works * ''The Ring'', a 1967 novel by Richard Chopping * ''The Ring'', a 1988 book by Daniel Keys Moran * ''The Ring'', a 1980 novel by Danielle Steel, which formed the basis for the 1996 film * ''The Ring'', a 1964 c ...
'' *
Tyson Fury Tyson is both a surname and a masculine given name. Surname *Alan Tyson (1926–2000), British musicologist *Barbara Tyson (born 1964), Canadian actress *Bill Tyson, Irish writer and producer *Cathy Tyson (born 1965), British actress *Charles Tyson ...

Tyson Fury
is recognized as the organization's world champion. He earned this distinction by defeating
Deontay Wilder Deontay Leshun Wilder (; born October 22, 1985) is an American professional boxer. He held the WBC heavyweight title from 2015 to 2020, making ten successful defenses. By winning the title, Wilder became the first American world heavyweight cham ...
on February 22, 2020. Presently no defense of this title is scheduled, though there are talks of a unification bout with
Anthony Joshua Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua, (born 15 October 1989) is a British professional boxer. He is a two-time unified world heavyweight champion, having held the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO titles since December 2019, and previously between 20 ...

Anthony Joshua
that are currently ongoing.


List of champions


Footnotes

# Won vacant championship title. # Voluntarily relinquished championship title. # Championship recognition withdrawn by sanctioning organization upon his refusal to fight an opponent of the organization's designation. # In 1882, Sullivan defeated
Paddy Ryan Patrick "Paddy" Ryan (15 March 1851 – 14 December 1900) was an Irish American boxer, and became the bare-knuckle American heavyweight champion on May 30, 1880, after he won the title from Joe Goss. He retained the title until losing it to the ...
to win the bare-knuckle championship of America. A lack of legitimate challengers elsewhere gradually resulted in Sullivan earning worldwide recognition. On August 29, 1885, he defeated
Dominick McCaffrey Dominick McCaffrey (born September 24, 1863 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – December 29, 1926) was an Irish-American boxer. McCaffrey was a popular boxer during his time, often noted for fighting much larger heavyweights. In 1885 he lost the ...
in a bout described as "the Marquess of Queensberry glove contest for the championship of the world." # Corbett announced his retirement from boxing in 1895, nominating Steve O'Donnell as his successor. As tradition demanded the title be won in the ring, O'Donnell was matched against Peter Maher on November 11, 1895 at
Maspeth Maspeth is a residential and commercial community in the borough of Queens in New York City. It was founded in the early 17th century by Dutch and English settlers. Neighborhoods sharing borders with Maspeth are Woodside to the north; Sunnyside to ...
,
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the Northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * ''Ne ...
. Maher won via first-round knockout, but the public generally didn't accept Maher and Maher himself expressed a desire to fight Corbett for the "real" title. In Maher's next bout,
Bob Fitzsimmons Robert James "Bob" Fitzsimmons (26 May 1863 – 22 October 1917) was a British professional boxer who was the sport's first three-division world champion. He also achieved fame for beating Gentleman Jim Corbett (the man who beat John L. Sulliva ...
defeated him via first-round knockout on February 21, 1896. Fitzsimmons in turn was defeated by
Tom Sharkey Thomas "Sailor Tom" Sharkey was a boxer who fought two fights with heavyweight champion James J. Jeffries. Sharkey's recorded ring career spanned from 1893 to 1904. He is credited with having won 40 fights (with 37 KOs), 7 losses, and 5 draws ...
of
Dundalk Dundalk ( ; , meaning "the fort of Dealgan", a Fir Bolg Chieftain) is the county town (the administrative centre) of the county of Louth in Ireland. The town is on the Castletown River, which flows into Dundalk Bay on the east coast of Irelan ...
on December 2, 1896, in a contest billed as for the heavyweight title. Corbett announced his return to the ring shortly thereafter, at which time the championship claims of Maher, Fitzsimmons, and Sharkey were for the most part dismissed. Sharkey's title claims lapsed when he was defeated by Jeffries in May 1898. # Jeffries announced his retirement, relinquishing the title and promoting a match between
Marvin Hart Marvin Hart (September 16, 1876 – September 17, 1931) was the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion from July 3, 1905 to February 23, 1906. Boxing career Hart, nicknamed "The Louisville Plumber" because of his former trade, gained considerable prom ...
and
Jack Root Janos Ruthaly (May 26, 1875 – June 10, 1963), or known professionally as Jack Root, was a light heavyweight champion and also fought for the world heavyweight title. He fought out of Chicago. He was elected into the International Boxing Hall of ...
for the championship. Jeffries returned to the ring to challenge Jack Johnson. # The British
National Sporting Club The National Sporting Club was a club founded in London in 1891, which did more to establish the sport of boxing in Great Britain than any other organisation. Origins The club was founded on 5 March 1891 as a private club. Its premises were at ...
withdrew its recognition of Johnson as champion when he refused to defend his title against the British champion William "Iron" Hague. The NSC matched Hague with Canadian
Sam Langford Samuel Edgar Langford (March 4, 1886 – January 12, 1956), known as the Boston Tar Baby, Boston Terror, and Boston Bonecrusher, was a Black Canadian boxing standout of the early part of the 20th century. Called the "Greatest Fighter Nobody Knows ...
for its title on May 24, 1909. Langford won via fourth-round knockout but never pursued a championship claim. # Schmeling earned championship recognition by defeating
Jack Sharkey Jack Sharkey (born Joseph Paul Zukauskas, lt, Juozas Povilas Žukauskas, October 26, 1902 – August 17, 1994) was a Lithuanian-American world heavyweight boxing champion. Early life Sharkey was born the son of Lithuanian immigrants, in Bin ...
by controversial disqualification. The
New York State Athletic Commission The New York State Athletic Commission or NYSAC, also known as the New York Athletic Commission, is a division of the New York State Department of State which regulates all contests and exhibitions of unarmed combat within the state of New York, in ...
withdrew its recognition of Schmeling when he refused to grant Sharkey an immediate rematch. The NYSAC did not recognize a champion until Sharkey defeated Schmeling in 1932. # In late 1934, the International Boxing Union (IBU) ordered Baer to defend his title against European champion Pierre Charles of Belgium. When Baer refused, the IBU sanctioned a bout between Charles and American George Godfrey for their title on October 2, 1935. Godfrey won via fifteen-round decision but never pursued a championship claim. The IBU ultimately recognized Baer's successor James J. Braddock as champion. # Two months after Louis' retirement announcement, the International Boxing Union sanctioned a bout between British champion Bruce Woodcock and American Lee Savold for its version of the title. The bout was not staged until June 1950, however, due to delays caused by injuries suffered by Woodcock in an automobile accident. Meanwhile, Ezzard Charles defeated Jersey Joe Walcott to win the vacant
National Boxing Association The World Boxing Association (WBA), formerly known as the National Boxing Association (NBA), is the oldest and one of four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxin ...
championship title. Savold defeated Woodcock in four rounds to win the IBU title, while Charles gained
New York State Athletic Commission The New York State Athletic Commission or NYSAC, also known as the New York Athletic Commission, is a division of the New York State Department of State which regulates all contests and exhibitions of unarmed combat within the state of New York, in ...
recognition and wide public acclaim as champion upon defeating former champion Joe Louis in September 1950. On June 15, 1951, Joe Louis defeated Savold via sixth-round knockout, after which the IBU withdrew its recognition of Savold and proclaimed Ezzard Charles as champion. # Following Marciano's retirement, Patterson was matched against Tommy Hurricane Jackson, Tommy "Hurricane" Jackson in a championship eliminator on June 8, 1956. Winning via controversial split decision, Patterson then faced light heavyweight titleholder Archie Moore for the vacant title. Upon defeating Moore, Patterson fought (and defeated) Jackson a second time on July 29, 1957. # The
World Boxing Association The World Boxing Association (WBA), formerly known as the National Boxing Association (NBA), is the oldest and one of four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxin ...
withdrew their championship recognition of Clay (by then known as Muhammad Ali) upon agreeing to an immediate rematch against former champion Sonny Liston, in violation of WBA rules. The newly founded
World Boxing Council The World Boxing Council (WBC) is one of four major organizations which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). Many historically ...
and other sanctioning groups continued to recognize Ali as champion. # The
World Boxing Association The World Boxing Association (WBA), formerly known as the National Boxing Association (NBA), is the oldest and one of four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxin ...
,
World Boxing Council The World Boxing Council (WBC) is one of four major organizations which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). Many historically ...
,
New York State Athletic Commission The New York State Athletic Commission or NYSAC, also known as the New York Athletic Commission, is a division of the New York State Department of State which regulates all contests and exhibitions of unarmed combat within the state of New York, in ...
and others withdrew their championship recognition of Ali following his refusal to be inducted into the United States Army subsequent to his conscription. # To fill its vacant championship title, the
World Boxing Association The World Boxing Association (WBA), formerly known as the National Boxing Association (NBA), is the oldest and one of four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxin ...
organized a single-elimination tournament involving eight of their ranked contenders (Joe Frazier, who was ranked No. 2, declined to participate): Oscar Bonavena, Jimmy Ellis (boxer), Jimmy Ellis, Leotis Martin, Karl Mildenberger, two-time former champion Floyd Patterson, Jerry Quarry, Thad Spencer, and former WBA champion Ernie Terrell. In first round matches, Ellis defeated Martin, Quarry defeated Patterson, Spencer defeated Terrell, and Bonavena defeated Mildenberger. In the semi-finals, Ellis defeated Bonavena while Quarry defeated Spencer; and Ellis defeated Quarry for the championship title. Frazier, meanwhile, was matched against Buster Mathis for a championship recognized by the
New York State Athletic Commission The New York State Athletic Commission or NYSAC, also known as the New York Athletic Commission, is a division of the New York State Department of State which regulates all contests and exhibitions of unarmed combat within the state of New York, in ...
together with the commissions of Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Similar "world" championship recognition was bestowed upon him by the Texas Athletic Commission following a victory over Dave Zyglewicz on April 22, 1969. # Frazier defeated Ellis to unify the heavyweight championship, but did not gain universal public acclaim as champion until defeating
Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali (; born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr.; January 17, 1942 – June 3, 2016) was an American professional boxer, activist, entertainer and philanthropist. Nicknamed The Greatest, he is widely regarded as one of the most significant and c ...
on March 8, 1971. # In an unprecedented move, upon withdrawing its recognition of Leon Spinks as champion, the
World Boxing Council The World Boxing Council (WBC) is one of four major organizations which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). Many historically ...
immediately recognized Ken Norton as champion, based on an earlier victory over Jimmy Young (boxer), Jimmy Young. As a condition of being named champion, Norton was ordered to face the WBC's new mandatory challenger, Larry Holmes within 120 days. # Holmes relinquished his
World Boxing Council The World Boxing Council (WBC) is one of four major organizations which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). Many historically ...
championship and accepted championship recognition bestowed by the newly organized
International Boxing Federation The International Boxing Federation (IBF) is one of four major organizations recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council ...
. # Following its 1978 precedent, upon withdrawing championship recognition from Riddick Bowe, the
World Boxing Council The World Boxing Council (WBC) is one of four major organizations which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). Many historically ...
immediately awarded championship recognition to Lennox Lewis, on the basis of his victory in an October 31, 1992 "championship eliminator" over Donovan Ruddock. # Following its withdrawal of recognition from George Foreman, the
International Boxing Federation The International Boxing Federation (IBF) is one of four major organizations recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council ...
sanctioned a December 9, 1995 match between FFrancoi and Axel Schulz for its championship. Botha won the bout by split decision, but the bout result and Botha's championship title were vacated after Botha's post-fight drug test revealed he had taken illegal anabolic steroids. A subsequent bout between Schulz and Michael Moorer was sanctioned for the IBF championship. # Upon defeating John Ruiz, Roy Jones, Jr. simultaneously held the
World Boxing Association The World Boxing Association (WBA), formerly known as the National Boxing Association (NBA), is the oldest and one of four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxin ...
's heavyweight and light heavyweight titles. At his request, the WBA suspended its rule prohibiting simultaneous title holding. It later declared Jones its "Champion in Recess," and sanctioned a December 13, 2003 bout between Ruiz and Hasim Rahman for its "interim" championship. Ruiz won the bout. On February 20, 2004, Jones relinquished his heavyweight title to resume boxing as a light heavyweight, at which point Ruiz was elevated to full championship recognition. On April 30, 2005, Ruiz was defeated by James Toney in a championship defense, but post-fight drug testing determined Toney had taken Nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. The bout's result was subsequently changed to a "no contest," whereupon the WBA reinstated Ruiz as champion. # Following repeated injuries to champion Vitali Klitschko, the
World Boxing Council The World Boxing Council (WBC) is one of four major organizations which sanctions professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). Many historically ...
sanctioned an August 13, 2005 bout between Hasim Rahman and Monte Barrett for its "interim" championship. Rahman won the bout, and when Klitschko relinquished his title three months later, the WBC elevated Rahman to full championship recognition. # Following repeated injuries which prevented him from defending his title, the
World Boxing Association The World Boxing Association (WBA), formerly known as the National Boxing Association (NBA), is the oldest and one of four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxin ...
designated Chagaev a "Champion in Recess," sanctioning an August 30, 2008 bout between former champions John Ruiz and Nikolai Valuev for its "interim" title; a bout won by Valuev. Upon his recovery however, Chagaev opted to face Wladimir Klitschko rather than Valuev, whereupon the WBA withdrew championship recognition. # The
World Boxing Association The World Boxing Association (WBA), formerly known as the National Boxing Association (NBA), is the oldest and one of four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxin ...
modified its championship structure, creating a new "Super Champion" status to be awarded to champions who hold multiple titles simultaneously. Now subordinated to this was the status of "World Champion," commonly referred to as the "Regular" champion. The organization then sanctioned a bout between Povetkin and former champion Ruslan Chagaev for this "regular" title. Povetkin's reign as the WBA's "regular champion" ended upon a loss to "Super Champion" Wladimir Klitschko, at which point the "regular" title was vacant. # Browne defeated Ruslan Chagaev for the
World Boxing Association The World Boxing Association (WBA), formerly known as the National Boxing Association (NBA), is the oldest and one of four major organizations which sanction professional boxing bouts, alongside the World Boxing Council (WBC), International Boxin ...
's "regular" championship title, but Browne subsequently tested positive for Clenbuterol, a banned substance. Following confirmation of the positive result, the WBA withdrew its recognition of Browne's "regular" championship. # On October 29, 1877 a fight between British fighters Tom Allen (boxer), Tom Allen and Tompkin Gilbert at the Sadler's Wells Theatre, London was billed as for the World heavyweight title under Marquess of Queensberry Rules. Allen won in seven rounds.


List of combined reigns

''As of December 14, 2020''. Keys: : Active title reign : Reign has ended :WBO heavyweight title bouts before August 1997 are not includedJames B. Roberts, Alexander G. Skutt: The Boxing Register: International Boxing Hall of Fame Official Record Book, p. 331–32. The record of Ricardo Lopez (boxer), Ricardo Lopez indicates his opponent Alex Sánchez (boxer), Alex Sánchez as WBO "World Champion" on August 23, 1997, meanwhile Michael Carbajal's opponent Josue Camacho (fought on July 15, 1994) didn't receive the same recognition, thus suggesting that WBO title hadn't been viewed by IBHOF as a major title prior to (at least) August 1997, when Herbie Hide (won the title on June 28, 1997) was WBO heavyweight champion


List of individual reigns

The list includes ''The Ring'' belt. Career total time as champion (for multiple time champions) does not apply. Keys: : Active Title Reign : Reign has ended :The WBO heavyweight title bouts before August 1997 are not included


By nationality


See also

* World heavyweight boxing championship records and statistics * List of Olympic medalists in boxing#Heavyweight * List of WBA female world champions#Light heavyweight * List of WBC female world champions#Heavyweight * List of IBF female world champions#Heavyweight * List of WBO female world champions#Heavyweight


Further reading

*


References


Sources

*
Boxing Title Fights

NBA World Heavyweight Champion - BoxRec

NYSAC World Heavyweight Champion - BoxRec

The BoxRec – Boxing's Official Record Keeper

The BoxRec Wiki Encyclopedia

The Boxing Register: International Boxing Hall Of Fame Official Record Book
(archive) {{World boxing champions Lists of world boxing champions, Heavyweight champions World heavyweight boxing champions, * World boxing champions by weight class