Source: Imago Images
Source: Imago Images

What is dividing the boxing world? Money, of course!

Boxing OlyBet 17.02.2024

February 17th was supposed to be the day when the world of superheavyweight boxing gets its absolute champion again after a hiatus of 8,711 days. But Tyson Fury injured his eyebrow in training, so the fight with Oleksander Ussõk – in which the WBA, WBC, WBO, and IBF title belts will be handed over to a new owner – has been postponed. But why is it that in the world of boxing, instead of one belt, the fuss is about four belts?

When professional boxing was founded 100+ years ago, everything was simple. Founded in 1920, the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) was the first to award championship belts. However, just one year later, the National Boxing Association (NBA) saw the light of day in the USA.

The NBA was created for two reasons: first, to expand the coverage of professional boxing in those states where the NYSAC had not yet reached, and second, to avoid the power position of the NYSAC (and the businessmen who support it).

The absolute champion was always known

Although in the early years, each organization tried to impose its “champion” on the other, gradually, it was understood that going together was the right and also easier thing to do. Thus, most boxing champions at the time were absolute, simultaneously holding both the NYSAC and NBA championship belts.

In the 60s, when professional boxing had spread beyond the United States, both organizations restructured themselves: NYSAC became the World Boxing Council (WBC) and NBA, in turn, the World Boxing Association (WBA). However, the common understanding about the champions remained.

In the meantime, if there were situations where one championship belt was in the hands of one boxer and the other in the hands of another, boxing fans generally turned their eyes to The Ring magazine, which decided which was the “right” champion at the time.

The fraud that smashed everything

However, such a beautiful hegemony ended in 1976 when The Ring’s editor-in-chief Johnny Ort was caught falsifying the competition results of certain boxers and burying them in the ranking table. The purpose of that? That they can get to the title matches and the pile of cash faster.

After that, chaos broke out in the world of boxing, figuratively speaking, and in hindsight, it can be said that this was the moment when boxing changed from a combat sport to a money sport…

As people’s faith in The Ring had been lost, the general public didn’t know who the “real” boxing champion was. However, the TV rights holders and promoters wanted to continue to attach the title match sticker to the matches. And when the businessmen suddenly figured it out…


… then different boxing organizations started to appear like mushrooms after the rain. The International Boxing Federation (IBF), the World Boxing Organization (WBO), the International Boxing Organization (IBO), the International Boxing Union (IBU) and the World Boxing Federation (WBF), each putting their championship belt on the line.

Understandably, the tag of the title match then quickly began to be devalued, because, with so many championship belts, it is extremely difficult for people to understand who really is the champion.

To get the situation under control, the two previous bigs – the WBC and the WBA – decided to put their backs together and team up with someone new. The hope was that if the new one also got access to the cash pile, it would be possible to suppress the rest.

The IBF was chosen and the plan succeeded. That’s how the era of three championship belts began in 1983, and ended only in 2007, when the WBO also got into the big gang. The reason was still money: they did not take it away but brought more of it.

Champions with four belts

Whereas, when it comes to super heavyweight in light of the Fury-Ussõk match, there has never been a champion with four championship belts before. The last king, Lennox Lewis, did things at the turn of the century when the WBO was not yet in the ring.

But to tell the truth, there aren’t too many champions with four belts in smaller weight classes either: de jure they are Terence Crawford (light welterweight and welterweight), Oleksander Ussõk (cruiserweight), Josh Taylor (welterweight), Canelo Alvarez (super middleweight), Jermell Charlo ( light middleweight and Naoya Inoue (bantamweight and super bantamweight).

De facto, Bernard Hawkins (middleweight) and Jermain Taylor (middleweight) can also be added here, who held the WBO championship belts at a time when it was not yet recognized by others.


This piece of content has been lovingly crafted by the hard-working sports people of OlyBet. Hope you like it!