World Boxing Organization

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"WBO" redirects here. For the UK railway station with code WBO, see Wimbledon Chase railway station.
World Boxing Organization
WBO logo.jpg
Abbreviation WBO
Motto Dignity, Democracy, Honesty
Formation 1988
Type Non-profit Institution
Purpose Boxing sanctioning organization
Headquarters San Juan, Puerto Rico
Region served
Francisco Varcarcel
Main organ
General Assembly

The World Boxing Organization (WBO) is a sanctioning organization which recognizes professional boxing world champions. It is recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) as one of the four major world championship groups, alongside the World Boxing Association (WBA), World Boxing Council (WBC), and International Boxing Federation (IBF). The WBO's headquarters are located in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


The WBO started after a group of Puerto Rican and Dominican businessmen broke out of the WBA's 1988 annual convention in Isla Margarita, Venezuela over disputes regarding what rules should be applied.

The WBO's first president was Ramon Pina Acevedo of the Dominican Republic. Soon after its beginning, the WBO was staging world championship bouts around the globe. Its first championship fight was for its vacant super middleweight title, between Thomas Hearns and James Kinchen; Hearns won by decision. Early on, the WBO experienced the shortcomings of a smaller organization, such as not presenting a belt to Junior Middleweight Paul "Silky" Jones after he won the title in 1995, a situation that became known 19 years later when the boxer made the claim. In order to gain respectability, the WBO next elected former world light heavyweight champion José Torres of Ponce, Puerto Rico, as its president. Torres left in 1996, giving way to Puerto Rican lawyer Francisco Varcarcel as president. Varcarcel has held that position since.

While the IBF had awarded recognition to Larry Holmes soon after its inception in 1983 (as they did with several established champions in the lower weight divisions), the WBO sanctioned a fight between two relatively unknown fighters, Francesco Damiani (winner of the super heavyweight silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics) and Johnny DuPlooy, to determine the inaugural holder of its own heavyweight title in 1989. All other sanctioning bodies of boxing recognized the then-undefeated Mike Tyson as the undisputed heavyweight champion. Damiani, meanwhile, went on to become the first WBO heavyweight champion.[1][2] At heavyweight, especially in the United States, the organization initially struggled to gain credibility as a major sanctioning body, with WBO heavyweight champions Michael Moorer, Riddick Bowe, and Henry Akinwande relinquishing the title to pursue other options. Boxing publication The Ring also did not recognize the WBO, despite having recognized the IBF after its inception in 1983, five years prior to the WBO.

In the lighter weight divisions, however, long-reigning champions during the 1990s such as Chris Eubank, Dariusz Michalczewski, Johnny Tapia, and Naseem Hamed gave the WBO title increasingly more prestige. The WBO was also made popular by boxers such as Marco Antonio Barrera, Oscar De La Hoya, Nigel Benn, Ronald "Winky" Wright, Joe Calzaghe, and Wladimir Klitschko, all of whom held its title.

In Europe, the WBO was more accepted during its early years than in the U.S., and WBO champions always fared well in unification bouts with WBA, WBC, and IBF champions. For example, WBO light heavyweight champion Michalczewski unified his title with the WBA and IBF titles by defeating Virgil Hill. By 2001, the WBA was giving the same recognition to WBO champions as it did to WBC and IBF champions.[3]

In 2004 the WBC began naming WBO champions on its ranking listings.[4] The IBF did not recognize the WBO in May 2006,[5] but was doing so by February 2007.[6] WBO regulations explicitly recognize the other three sanctioning bodies.[7] For many years, as with the IBF, boxers based in Japan were not permitted to fight for WBO titles. In 2012, the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) recognized the governing body.[8] In August 2016, the WBO Asia Pacific Championship was recognized by the JBC and the Japan Professional Boxing Association (JPBA).[9]

Super titles[edit]

Since the early 2000s, the WBO has awarded the honorary title of "Super Champion" to certain boxers, in any given weight class, who fulfil a set of distinguished criteria.[10] Boxers who have been named WBO Super Champion include: Joe Calzaghe, Oscar De La Hoya, Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor, Kelly Pavlik, Wladimir Klitschko, Juan Manuel Márquez, Juan Díaz, Manny Pacquiao, Fernando Montiel, Jorge Arce, Omar Narváez, Donnie Nietes, Iván Calderón, Marco Huck, and Sergey Kovalev.

It should be noted that this title is not an actual world championship in the same vein as the WBA's Super titles; it is more akin to a lifetime achievement award. A boxer awarded the status of WBO Super Champion cannot win the title from or lose it to another boxer; recognition as Super Champion can be maintained even if a boxer moves to another weight class.


Minimumweight title declared vacant[edit]

On August 23, 1997, WBC minimumweight champion Ricardo López won the WBO minimumweight title by knocking out Puerto Rican fighter Alex Sánchez. After the bout, López told a Mexican newspaper that he wanted to give his newly won championship belt to his father, who is a boxing fan. WBO president Francisco Varcarcel said he viewed that comment as a public resignation and declared the title vacant without holding a hearing or notifying López. The WBO sanctioned a bout between Eric Jamili (10–5–1) and Mickey Cantwell (13–4–1) to fill the vacancy despite protests by López.[11]

Ranking of deceased boxer[edit]

The WBO twice moved Darrin Morris up in its super-middleweight rankings in 2001, despite the fact that he was dead. Morris was Number 7 at the time of his death and Number 5 when the WBO discovered the error. Varcarcel said, "We obviously missed the fact that Darrin was dead. It is regrettable." Valcarcel also stated that other boxing sanctioning organizations had made similar errors in the past by continuing to rank another boxer after he was dead.[12] One week after British newspaper The Independent broke the story that one of the three men ranking the boxers, Gordon Volkman, still had not heard that Morris was dead.[13]

Current WBO world title holders[edit]


Weight class: Champion: Reign began: Days
Mini flyweight  Katsunari Takayama (JPN) August 20, 2016 62
Junior flyweight vacant
Flyweight vacant
Junior bantamweight  Naoya Inoue (JPN) December 30, 2014 661
Bantamweight  Marlon Tapales (PHI) July 27, 2016 86
Junior featherweight  Nonito Donaire (PHI) December 11, 2015 315
Featherweight  Óscar Valdez (MEX) July 23, 2016 90
Junior lightweight  Vasyl Lomachenko (UKR) June 11, 2016 132
 Miguel Berchelt (MEX) (interim Champion) March 12, 2016 223
Lightweight  Terry Flanagan (UK) July 11, 2015 468
Junior welterweight  Terence Crawford (USA) April 18, 2015 552
Welterweight  Jessie Vargas (USA) March 5, 2016 230
Junior middleweight  Saul Alvarez (MEX) September 17, 2016 34
Middleweight  Billy Joe Saunders (UK) December 19, 2015 307
Super middleweight  Gilberto Ramírez (MEX) April 9, 2016 195
Light heavyweight  Sergey Kovalev (RUS) (Super Champion) August 17, 2013 1161
Cruiserweight  Oleksandr Usyk (UKR) September 17, 2016 34
Heavyweight vacant

As of October 12, 2016


Weight class: Champion: Reign began: Days
Atomweight (102 lb.) Japan Nao Ikeyama May 17, 2014 888
Mini flyweight (105 lb.) Japan Kumiko Seeser Ikehara September 20, 2014 762
Junior flyweight (108 lb.) Australia Louisa Hawton August 20, 2016 62
Flyweight (112 lb.) Vacant
Junior bantamweight (115 lb.) Argentina Romina Bermudez January 4, 2014 1021
Bantamweight (118 lb.) Japan Naoko Fujioka October 19, 2015 368
Junior featherweight (122 lb.) Puerto Rico Amanda Serrano October 18, 2016 3
Featherweight (126 lb.) Puerto Rico Amanda Serrano February 17, 2016 247
Junior lightweight (130 lb.) Germany Ramona Kuehne June 4, 2010 2331
Lightweight (135 lb.) Argentina Yohana Belen Alfonzo July 24, 2015 455
Junior welterweight (140 lb.) Argentina Celeste Peralta May 14, 2016 160
Welterweight (147 lb.) Norway Cecilia Brækhus May 15, 2010 2354
Junior middleweight (154 lb.) Costa Rica Hanna Gabriels December 20, 2014 671
Middleweight (160 lb.) Germany Christina Hammer July 13, 2013 1196
Super middleweight (168 lb.) Vacant
Light heavyweight (175 lb.) Vacant
Heavyweight (200+ lb.) Vacant

Former champions[edit]

WBO affiliated organizations[edit]

Transition of WBO titles[edit]

In other media[edit]

The series finale of Japanese manga series Bleach revolves around the main cast gathering to watch a fight in which a character named Yasutora Sado is involved, having become a professional boxer ten years after the storyline and challenging for the WBO World Heavyweight Championship.[14]


  1. ^ Hurley, Matthew (11 August 2007). "Klitschko Ibragimov Close To Being Set For February". East Side Boxing. Retrieved June 3, 2009. The WBO, which was introduced in 1989, was not generally considered a legitimate heavyweight belt at the time. The organization's first heavyweight champion was Francesco Damiani whose short reign came during Mike Tyson's run as undisputed champion. 
  2. ^ Hauser, Thomas (March 16, 2008). "The Heavyweight Follies". Retrieved June 3, 2009. And the WBO belt has NEVER been carried into the ring by the true heavyweight champion of the world. The first WBO heavyweight beltholder was Francesco Damiani, who won the bauble by knocking out Johnny DuPlooy in 1989 
  3. ^ "Super championships guidelines". WBA. Archived from the original on November 19, 2001. Retrieved November 14, 2008. 
  4. ^ Compare
    "WBC Bantamweight Ratings (incl. WBO)". WBC. Archived from the original on August 3, 2004. Retrieved November 15, 2008.  and
    "WBC Bantamweight Ratings (excl. WBO)". WBC. Archived from the original on February 4, 2004. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  5. ^ "IBF/USBA Rules Governing Championship Contests" (PDF). IBF. May 2006. pp. 10–11. Retrieved November 15, 2008. For the purpose of unification of titles, the Champions of the World Boxing Association ('WBA') and the World Boxing Council ('WBC') may be designated as 'elite contenders' and may be permitted to fight for the unified title. Unification bouts with other organizations will be considered on a case to case basis. 
  6. ^ "IBF Ratings". IBF. February 2007. Archived from the original on February 2, 2007. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  7. ^ "§7 unification bouts and unification tournaments as mandatory title bouts". Regulations of World Championship Contests. WBO. p. 8. Retrieved November 14, 2008. 
  8. ^ Myron Sta. Ana (November 20, 2012). "Wars Katsumata Wins by Knockout in Japan". Retrieved November 21, 2012. 
  9. ^ Joe Koizumi (2016-08-18). "WBO Asia Pacific championship recognized by JBC, JPBA". Retrieved 2016-08-23. 
  10. ^ "What is a WBO "Super Champion"". WBO. Retrieved September 10, 2016.
  11. ^ "PLUS: BOXING; Jamili Takes Strawweight Title". The New York Times. December 20, 1997. 
  12. ^ Bunce, Steve (February 13, 2001). "Death no barrier to fighter's rise in rankings". The Independent. London. Retrieved March 1, 2009. 
  13. ^ Graham, Tim (February 20, 2001). "New WBO division: Dead weight". Retrieved March 1, 2009. 
  14. ^ Byron Cayetano (2016-08-17). "Bleach' chapter 686 spoilers are out! Meet Ichigo and Inoue's son Kazui; Rukia and Renji marries". Yibada. Retrieved 2016-08-23. 

External links[edit]