It takes more than lightweight gear, a pair of boxing shorts, a high-quality reflex training bag (check out this article), and a reliable boxing bag stand to improve your boxing skills during training sessions. However, with a good dose of discipline and benefit from the advice of a reputed personal trainer, you too can dream of the most prestigious prizes and belts in the boxing industry.
And, speaking of, there isn’t a better time in the history of this sport than today to join competitions and make a name for yourself. In the past few decades, boxing has increased in popularity, attracting young players from around the world, and building up tough competition in all weight categories.
But, ranking boxing belts could prove a confusing job, especially since it seems to be an abundance of titles and prestigious belts anywhere you look. Nowadays, many people question the legitimacy of many belts and trophies, given the number of existing boxing competitions all over the world.
The mirage of boxing belts
If you’re not a professional boxer or don’t have a good agent, it’s easy to be sucked up in the glittery world of boxing belts and take competitions based on their prizes, without knowing the exact importance of winning the belt.
The belt market today seems worn out by the weight of the metals and precious stones thrown into the ring. From opulent gold and rhinestones to diamonds, red velvet, and flashy colors, it seems like everyone is getting their desired belt, for a reasonable price. This weird bazaar of glitz and bling seems more and more like a generic football championship for children where everyone gets a cup just for participating.
So, how can you tell which belt is really important and which ones are mainly made up of attracting additional fans and investors? Let’s look at the ones that really matter for your career.
Most important boxing federations
We should start by saying that there isn’t just one supreme boxing council or association that prepares the most prestigious games and offers a worldwide title and a corresponding belt at the end of the competition.
However, the commonly-held view is that there are just four world titles you should aim for, each awarded by a certain organization: The World Boxing Association (WBA belt), the World Boxing Council (WBC), The International Boxing Federation (IBF), and The World Boxing Organization (WBO).
Apart from that, there are also territorial organizations that hand in important prizes and belts, such as the European Boxing Union.
All of these four major organizations recognize each other as equals so that the titles they are awarding are of similar importance for professional boxers. However, due to the iconic appearance of the WBC belt, it seems to be a little bit ahead of the game as opposed to its belt peers.
Each of these organizations establishes a worldwide champion for each weight limit, except the WBA. The reasons why the WBA decided to handle more than one title for each weight category remain unclear to the most, but the association promised to rectify the confusing situation.
Thus, it is quite common for the WBA to have three different champions listed for one weight – the Super champion, the Regular champion, and the Interim champion.
If you think the situation starts to get confusing, find out that there are other governing bodies that decided to offer world champion titles, including the Universal Boxing Organization (UBO), the International Boxing Organization (IBO) or the World Boxing Federation (WBF).
However, apart from the IBO, the titles and belts provided by the rest of these minor organizations weigh little to nothing for worldwide renowned professional boxers.
The most sought-after titles in today’s boxing
Between the four major boxing organizations, just one or two weight categories “produce” the best boxers in the world. In other words, each boxing organization is known for one-two major weight categories that genuinely provide the best athletes. So, let’s take a look at the most important that are worth mentioning.
The WBO Featherweight Belt
Ranked as the eighth most prestigious belt in the world, the featherweight division of the WBO currently counts for some of the most popular rising stars in the world. From the two-time Olympic champion Vasyl Lomachenko to other stars like Gary Russell Jr. or Evgeny Gradovich, the battle for the supreme belt always guarantees a good show. Each of the boxers claiming the champion title is known for speed, strength or technicality but it seems like new challenges appear every year.
The IBF Welterweight Belt
There has been a great dispute around the importance of this belt since the most popular boxers in this weight category already competed for the other titles provided by the WBA, WBO, and WBC.
You can find some of the most renowned boxers competing in the welterweight weight limit, including Manny Pacquiao and now-retired Floyd Mayweather. Both of them feature an impressive career with titles won for nearly a decade.
On the other hand, the welterweight belt provided by the IBF was considered up until recently to only gather second-tier contestants like Randall Bailey and Isaac Hlatshwayo. However, its prestige increased significantly, and now attracts upcoming stars like Kell Brook, a true champion in the art of KOs.
The undisputed heavyweight belt
With so many great new boxers competing for each weight category, it seems like the “Clash of the Titans” or the fight between the world’s heaviest boxers has been forgotten lately. We have many younger, more vocal boxers competing for the supreme champion title for their weight categories, but what about the biggest ones?
Muhammad Ali, John Sullivan, Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Floyd Patterson, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali Klitschko, Tyson Fury, and Anthony Joshua are but a few of the world champions at the heavy category.
Most of them are considered true legends, with Jack Johnson and Muhammad Ali fighting in dangerous times when racism was peaking in the American society, filling each sports competition with hatred instead of national pride.
Nevertheless, things changed since the 1960s, and the wide array of Afro-American boxing champions are living proof that this sport is all about strength and intelligence, and nothing about race, color or age.
The most sought-after boxing belt in the world remains the IBF’s heavyweight one but competition is hard in the other remaining competitions as well.
Anthony Joshua won his first IBF title in April 2016 and, since, has also become a WBA Super champion in 2017, and WBO champion in 2018. His reign continues but the 2022 competition can still offer surprises.
The ranking in boxing competitions is the very least confusing since we’re not talking about a single world-recognized authority to offer the belts. Nevertheless, if you plan on building a career of your own in the world of professional boxing, you should stay out of the competitions that don’t increase your world ranking and player value too much.