World Boxing Association
23 August 1962(as WBA)
|Purpose||Boxing sanctioning organization|
|Headquarters||Panama City, Panama|
|Gilberto Mendoza Jr.|
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 Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Organization (WBO). The WBA awards its world championship title at the professional level. Founded in the United States in 1921 by 13 state representatives as the NBA, in 1962 it changed its name in recognition of boxing's growing popularity worldwide and began to gain other nations as members.
By 1975, a majority of votes were held by Latin American nations and the organization headquarters had moved to Panama. After being located during the 1990s and early 2000s in Venezuela, the organization offices returned to Panama in 2007. It is the oldest of the four major organizations recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF), which sanction world championship boxing bouts, alongside the WBC, IBF and WBO.
The World Boxing Association can be traced back to the original National Boxing Association, organized in 1921. The first bout it recognized was the Jack Dempsey–Georges Carpentier heavyweight championship bout in New Jersey.
The NBA was formed by representatives from 13 American states, including Sam Milner, to counterbalance the influence that the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) wielded. The NBA and the NYSAC sometimes crowned different "world champions" in the same division, leading to confusion about who was the real champion.
The International Boxing Research Organization describes the early NBA as follows:
Originally more comparable to the present American Association of Boxing Commissions than to its offspring and successor, the NBA sanctioned title bouts, published lists of outstanding challengers, withdrew titular recognition, but did not attempt to appoint its own title bout officials or otherwise impose its will on championship fights. It also did not conduct purse bids or collect "sanctioning fees."
The NBA officially became the WBA on 23 August 1962. Gilberto Mendoza was the President of the WBA from 1982 until his death in 2016, after which Gilberto Mendoza Jr. took over as president. In the 1990s, the WBA moved its central offices from Panama City, Panama, to Caracas, Venezuela. In January 2007, it returned its offices to Panama.
As has been the case with all major boxing sanctioning organizations, the WBA has been plagued with charges of corrupt practices. In a 1981 Sports Illustrated article, a boxing judge claimed he was influenced by WBA President Gilberto Mendoza to judge certain fighters competing for their titles more favorably. The same article also discussed a variety of bribes paid to WBA officials to obtain championship bout opportunities, or higher placement within the organization's rankings. In a 1982 interview, boxing promoter Bob Arum claimed that he had to pay off WBA officials to obtain rankings for his fighters. Further support for allegations of this nature came in the 1980s and 1990s as two other organizations would have similar corruption exposed, including the conviction and imprisonment of IBF President Bob Lee and Graciano Rocchigiani's successful civil prosecution of the WBC that resulted in the organization briefly filing for bankruptcy before reaching a settlement that saved it from collapse.
Until the fall of 2021, the WBA recognized up to four world champions in any given weight division, to the point of rendering it technically impossible under certain conditions for a WBA world champion to even hold sole recognition from the organization as its champion in a division.
The most prominent designation is that of the WBA Super champion, which was created in 2000 following a suggestion by Lennox Lewis after he was forced to relinquish his WBA heavyweight title prior to his defense against Michael Grant. This distinction was initially reserved for WBA champions who are simultaneously recognized by the WBC, IBF or WBO. A WBA Super champion is afforded special consideration by the organization with respect to meeting mandatory defense obligations to maintain championship recognition, but it also has opened the door for the organization to recognize a separate world champion, commonly referred to as the Regular champion; creating confusion among fans as to who holds the de facto championship title. Some world champions have been upgraded to WBA Super champion status without winning another organization's title, among them Floyd Mayweather Jr., Chris John, Anselmo Moreno and Manny Pacquiao; or upon defending their WBA title five or more times. Upon awarding a WBA Super championship, the regular world champion status is deemed vacant, whereupon it is filled by the organization as a separate championship. On March 5, 2021, Claressa Shields became the inaugural WBA Super women's champion at light middleweight.
The WBA further complicated this from time to time by recognizing an interim champion, ostensibly in cases where a designated world champion is, for some reason, prohibited from making a timely defense of their title. Under such conditions, the interim title holder is to be the next person to compete for one of the full championship titles once the champion is in a position to compete. In practice, however, this actually occurred rarely if ever and in 2019 the organization began awarding the WBA Gold title, for which no provision exists even within the organization's own governing documents. As of December 2019 for example, they simultaneously recognized a WBA Super champion (Anthony Joshua), WBA champion (Manuel Charr), WBA interim champion (Trevor Bryan) and WBA Gold champion (Robert Helenius) in the heavyweight division.
There have even been instances where different WBA world champions have defended versions of the same title, in the same weight class, on the same date in different events.
Following the controversial decision in the Gabriel Maestre vs. Mykal Fox fight on August 7, 2021 amid immense public pressure, the WBA finally began eliminating all interim titles in the attempt to return to a single champion per weight division.
The organization has further garnered negative attention with respect to its ranking of boxers, in spite of having adopted a complex, documented rating formula in the 2000s. In 2015 for example, Ali Raymi had been rated number six when, in his service as a colonel in the Yemeni armed forces, he was killed. His death didn't significantly hinder his rating position in the WBA however, as in a subsequent ranking he had only dropped to number eleven.
Title reduction plan
In August 2021, a letter sent by the ABC stating that the WBA having multiple titles is "misleading to the public and the boxers". The ABC has also stated that if the WBA fails to do a satisfactory action regarding the issue, they would recommend to its members:
- Not to honor the WBA belt as sanctioned within the U.S.
- Not to accept WBA official recommendations.
- Not to allow a WBA supervisor in the controlled area around the ring.
This could result in the WBA being blocked in the U.S. and will heavily impact WBA's business.
The WBA in turn responded by declaring all of their interim titles vacant. They then ordered tournaments to determine a single champion of their weight classes. The featherweight division was the first to hold the tournament by ordering the stripped interim champion Michael Conlan and Regular champion Leigh Wood. The winner of this bout would then have to fight Super champion Léo Santa Cruz, to finally have a single champion of this division. Since then, successful fights aimed at consolidating championships include Artem Dalakian (Regular) vs Luis Concepción (Interim) at flyweight, Victorio Saludar (Regular) vs Erick Rosa (Interim) at minimumweight, Gervonta Davis (Regular) vs Rolando Romero (Interim) at lightweight, Trevor Bryan (Regular) vs Daniel Dubois (Interim) at heavyweight, and Hiroto Kyoguchi (Super) vs Esteban Bermudez (Regular) at light flyweight.
In some divisions, the WBA outright stripped Regular champions because of fighting against other champions. The first champion to be stripped was former Regular bantamweight champion, Guillermo Rigondeaux. Although this happened just days before the ABC letter was reported, Rigondeaux was scheduled to fight then WBO bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero, a bout that wasn’t recognized by the WBO as a unification bout because of the secondary belt status of the Regular title. This resulted in Rigondeaux being stripped of the Regular title. Super champion Naoya Inoue then became the only WBA bantamweight champion. Brandon Figueroa was stripped of his Regular super bantamweight title after facing Stephen Fulton in a WBC/WBO unification(despite being allowed to unify in his previous fight with then WBC champion Luis Nery) while Gervonta Davis who simultaneously held 3 titles, was ordered to keep only 1 title. He then vacated his super featherweight Super title and super lightweight Regular title, respectively, while retaining the Regular title at lightweight. Erislandy Lara, who held the Regular super welterweight title, opted to vacate and keep the same title at middleweight. Ryad Mehry, the Regular champion at cruiserweight, vacated his title after being ordered to face Super champion Arsen Goulamirianfollowing a failed attempt to fight WBC champion Illunga Makabu in a “unification”.
Man of Triumph belts
Since 2015, the WBA awards a customized version of their WBA Super champion belt to big fights involving a WBA championship. The WBA called this the Man of Triumph belt, named after the trophy awarded to the winner of the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight. The plate of the belt has the images of the two boxers fighting. Floyd Mayweather Jr. received the first gold-plated version of the belt while Manny Pacquiao was awarded a one-time rhodium-plated version. Other recipients of the custom gold-plated belt are Anthony Joshua, Vasyl Lomachenko, Manny Pacquiao, Oleksandr Usyk, Canelo Álvarez and Callum Smith.
Current WBA world title holders
As of 27 September 2022
|Weight class||Champion||Reign began||Days|
|Minimumweight (105 lbs)||Thammanoon Niyomtrong (Super champion)||29 June 2016||2281|
|Erick Rosa||21 December 2021||280|
|Light flyweight (108 lbs)||Hiroto Kyoguchi (Super champion)||31 December 2018||1366|
|Flyweight (112 lbs)||Artem Dalakian||24 February 2018||1676|
|Super flyweight (115 lbs)||Joshua Franco||23 June 2020||826|
|Bantamweight (118 lbs)||Naoya Inoue (Super champion)||7 November 2019||1055|
|Super bantamweight (122 lbs)||Murodjon Akhmadaliev (Super champion)||30 January 2020||971|
|Featherweight (126 lbs)||Léo Santa Cruz (Super champion)||28 January 2017||2068|
|Leigh Wood||31 July 2021||423|
|Super featherweight (130 lbs)||Héctor García||20 August 2022||38|
|Lightweight (135 lbs)||Devin Haney (Super champion)||4 June 2022||115|
|Gervonta Davis||28 December 2019||1004|
|Super lightweight (140 lbs)||Alberto Puello||20 August 2022||38|
|Welterweight (147 lbs)||Errol Spence Jr. (Super champion)||16 April 2022||164|
|Eimantas Stanionis||16 April 2022||164|
|Super welterweight (154 lbs)||Jermell Charlo (Super champion)||26 September 2020||731|
|Middleweight (160 lbs)||Gennady Golovkin (Super champion)||9 April 2022||171|
|Erislandy Lara||1 May 2021||514|
|Super middleweight (168 lbs)||Canelo Álvarez (Super champion)||19 December 2020||647|
|David Morrell||19 January 2021||616|
|Light heavyweight (175 lbs)||Dmitry Bivol (Super champion)||23 September 2017||1830|
|Cruiserweight (200 lbs)||Arsen Goulamirian (Super champion)||31 May 2019||1215|
|Heavyweight (200+ lbs)||Oleksandr Usyk (Super champion)||25 September 2021||367|
|Daniel Dubois||11 June 2022||108|
|Weight class||Champion||Reign began||Days|
|Light minimumweight (102 lbs)||vacant|
|Minimumweight (105 lbs)||Seniesa Estrada||20 March 2021||556|
|Light flyweight (108 lbs)||Jessica Nery Plata||11 March 2022||200|
|Flyweight (112 lbs)||Marlen Esparza||9 Apr 2022||151|
|Super flyweight (115 lbs)||Clara Lescurat||24 June 2022||95|
|Bantamweight (118 lbs)||Jamie Mitchell||9 October 2021||353|
|Super bantamweight (122 lbs)||Mayerlin Rivas||7 February 2020||963|
|Featherweight (126 lbs)||Erika Cruz||22 April 2021||523|
|Super featherweight (130 lbs)||Choi Hyun-mi||15 August 2013||3330|
|Lightweight (135 lbs)||Katie Taylor||28 October 2017||1795|
|Super lightweight (140 lbs)||Kali Reis||6 November 2020||690|
|Welterweight (147 lbs)||Jessica McCaskill||15 August 2020||773|
|Super welterweight (154 lbs)||Hannah Rankin||5 November 2021||326|
|Middleweight (160 lbs)||Claressa Shields||22 June 2018||1558|
|Super middleweight (168 lbs)||Franchón Crews-Dezurn||30 April 2021||515|
|Light heavyweight (168+ lbs)||Hanna Gabriels||17 April 2021||528|
- WBA Asia
- WBA Oceania
- Federación Latinoamericana de Comisiones de Boxeo Profesional (WBA Fedelatin)
- Federación Bolivariana de Boxeo (WBA Fedebol)
- Federación Centroamericana de Boxeo (WBA Fedecentro)
- Federación del Caribe de Boxeo (WBA Fedecaribe)
- North American Boxing Association (NABA)
- List of major boxing sanctioning bodies
- List of WBA world champions
- List of WBA female world champions
- List of current world boxing champions
- Mullan, Harry (1996). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Boxing. London: Carlton Books. p. 121. ISBN 0-7858-0641-5.
- "Boxing Bodies: A Brief Chronology and Rundown". International Boxing Digest. 40 (1): 58. January 1998.
- "World Boxing Association History". WBA. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
- Heller, Peter (1988). Bad Intentions: The Mike Tyson Story. New York: New American Library. pp. 141–142. ISBN 0-688-10123-2.
- Mullan. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Boxing. p. 122.
- Gabriel F. Cordero (November 30, 2012). ""Chocolatito" is the latest WBA super champion". Fightnews.com. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- "WBA ranking update leaves questions and criticism". Asian Boxing.
- Iole, Kevin (August 12, 2021). "Boxing commissions holding WBA's 'feet to the fire' with scathing letter, threatening not to sanction belts". Yahoo. Archived from the original on August 12, 2021. Retrieved May 15, 2022.
- Press WBA (August 25, 2021). "WBA interim championships will be vacated". WBA. Archived from the original on August 25, 2021. Retrieved May 15, 2022.
- Press WBA (August 27, 2021). "WBA orders Wood-Conlan: and the winner will go vs. Santa Cruz". WBA. Archived from the original on August 27, 2021. Retrieved May 15, 2022.
- Donovan, Jake (August 12, 2021). "Casimero-Rigondeaux: WBO Belt At Stake, WBA To Strip Rigondeaux Once He Enters Ring". Boxingscene. Archived from the original on August 16, 2021. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
- Milano, Jesús (December 2, 2021). "Murodjon Akhmadaliev becomes sole WBA super bantamweight champion". WBA. Archived from the original on December 3, 2021. Retrieved December 3, 2021.
- Coppinger, Mike (August 28, 2021). "Gervonta Davis vacates WBA's 130-pound title, mulling future at 135 or 140". ESPN. Archived from the original on August 29, 2021. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
- WBA [@WBABoxing] (December 7, 2021). "Gervonta Davis (@Gervontaa) informed the WBA that he will only keep his Lightweight belt. Gervonta had five days after his fight last Sunday to choose a division and he decided to stay at 135 pounds" (Tweet). Archived from the original on December 7, 2021. Retrieved December 7, 2021 – via Twitter.
- Donovan, Jake (August 31, 2021). "Erislandy Lara Vacates WBA "World" 154 Title, Calls For Middleweight Clash With Murata". Boxingscene. Archived from the original on November 26, 2021. Retrieved November 26, 2021.
- "Goulamirian is the only WBA Cruiserweight champion". World Boxing Association. Retrieved September 14, 2022.
- Wainwright, Anson (July 14, 2022). "Ilunga Makabu-Ryad Merhy set for September 30 in Kinshasa". The Ring. Retrieved September 14, 2022.
- "WBA "Man of Triumph" Trophy".
- "WBA special belt for the Klitschko-Joshua".
- "Lomachenko and Linares Special Super Belt Made".
- "Paccquiao and Matthysse Special Super Belt Made".
- "Gilberto Jesus Mendoza will travel to Russia".
- "Boxing News: Special WBA belt for GGG-Canelo winner » December 4, 2019". September 14, 2017.
- "The WBA will make history in Saudi Arabia".