Champions were recognized by public acclamation. A champion in that era was a fighter who had a notable win over another fighter and kept winning afterward. Retirements or disputed results could lead to a championship being split among several men for periods of time. With only minor exceptions, the heavyweight division remained free from dual title-holders until the 1960s. For an early example, see the 1896 World Heavyweight Championship.
Sanctioning organizations: 1910–present
Gradually, the role of recognizing champions in the division evolved into a more formal affair, with public acclamation being supplemented (or in some cases, contradicted) by recognition by one or more athletic commissions, sanctioning organizations, or a combination of them. The most notable examples with respect to the heavyweight division have included:
- The International Boxing Union (IBU), which was formed in Paris in 1910. The organization became the European Boxing Union in 1946, but recognized "world" champions in various divisions until it subordinated itself in that area to the World Boxing Council.
- The New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC). A governmental entity initially formed for the purpose of regulating boxing in the State of New York, thanks to New York's place as the epicenter of boxing from the 1930s through 1950s, the NYSAC expanded its reach to sanctioning championship bouts. This practice continued until, like the IBU, the NYSAC became a member of the World Boxing Council (WBC).
- The National Boxing Association (NBA) was organized in 1921. In 1962, the organization was renamed the World Boxing Association (WBA).
- The World Boxing Council (WBC) was organized in 1963.
- The International Boxing Federation (IBF), which was founded in 1983 by the members of the United States Boxing Association after the USBA withdrew from membership in the WBA.
- The World Boxing Organization (WBO), which was founded in 1989 by disgruntled members of the World Boxing Council.
Other bodies also recognize world champions, with varying degrees of legitimacy bestowed upon such recognition by the public at large. Current examples of such groups include the International Boxing Council, International Boxing Organization, World Boxing Federation and World Boxing Union.
List of champions
|Champion||Nationality||Recognition||Reign Began||Reign Ended||Title defenses||Opponents||Notes|
|John L. Sullivan||United States||Universal||August 29, 1885||September 7, 1892||0||0||25,4|
|James J. Corbett||United States||Universal||September 7, 1892||March 17, 1897||1||1||5|
|Bob Fitzsimmons||United Kingdom||Universal||March 17, 1897||June 9, 1899||0||0|
|James J. Jeffries||United States||Universal||June 9, 1899||May 13, 1905||7||5||2,6|
|Marvin Hart||United States||Universal||July 3, 1905||February 23, 1906||0||0||1|
|Tommy Burns||Canada||Universal||February 23, 1906||December 26, 1908||11||8|
|Jack Johnson||United States||Universal||December 26, 1908||April 5, 1915||8||8||7|
|Jess Willard||United States||Universal||April 5, 1915||July 4, 1919||1||1|
|Jack Dempsey||United States||Universal||July 4, 1919||July 2, 1921||4||4|
|Jack Dempsey||United States||NBA||July 2, 1921||July 24, 1922||0||0|
|Jack Dempsey||United States||NBA and NYSAC||July 24, 1922||September 23, 1926||2||2|
|Gene Tunney||United States||NBA and NYSAC||September 23, 1926||July 31, 1928||2||2||2|
|Max Schmeling||Germany||NBA and NYSAC||June 12, 1930||January 7, 1931||0||0||1,8|
|Max Schmeling||Germany||NBA and IBU||January 7, 1931||June 21, 1932||1||1|
|Jack Sharkey||United States||NBA and NYSAC, IBU||June 21, 1932||June 29, 1933||0||0|
|Primo Carnera||Italy||NBA and NYSAC, IBU||June 29, 1933||June 14, 1934||2||2|
|Max Baer||United States||NBA and NYSAC, IBU||June 14, 1934||June 13, 1935||0||0||9|
|James J. Braddock||United States||NBA and NYSAC, IBU||June 13, 1935||June 22, 1937||0||0|
|Joe Louis||United States||NBA and NYSAC, IBU||June 22, 1937||March 1, 1949||26||21||2 Longest reign|
|Ezzard Charles||United States||NBA||June 22, 1949||September 27, 1950||3||3||1,10|
|Lee Savold||United States||IBU||June 6, 1950||June 16, 1951||0||0||1,10|
|Ezzard Charles||United States||NBA and NYSAC||September 27, 1950||June 16, 1951||5||5||1,10|
|Ezzard Charles||United States||NBA and NYSAC, IBU||June 16, 1951||July 18, 1951||0||0|
|Jersey Joe Walcott||United States||NBA and NYSAC||July 18, 1951||September 23, 1952||1||1|
|Rocky Marciano||United States||NBA and NYSAC||September 23, 1952||April 27, 1956||6||5||2|
|Floyd Patterson||United States||NBA and NYSAC||November 30, 1956||June 26, 1959||4||4||1,11|
|Ingemar Johansson||Sweden||NBA and NYSAC||June 26, 1959||June 20, 1960||0||0|
|Floyd Patterson (Second reign)||United States||NBA and NYSAC||June 20, 1960||September 25, 1962||2||2|
|Sonny Liston||United States||NYSAC and WBA||September 25, 1962||July 22, 1963||1||1|
|Sonny Liston||United States||NYSAC, WBA and WBC||July 22, 1963||February 25, 1964||0||0|
|Cassius Clay||United States||NYSAC, WBA and WBC||February 25, 1964||June 19, 1964||0||0||12|
|Muhammad Ali||United States||NYSAC and WBC||June 19, 1964||February 6, 1967||8||8|
|Ernie Terrell||United States||WBA||March 5, 1965||February 6, 1967||2||2||1|
|Muhammad Ali||United States||NYSAC, WBA and WBC||February 6, 1967||April 29, 1967||1||1||Unified NYSAC, WBA and WBC titles.13|
|Joe Frazier||United States||NYSAC||March 4, 1968||February 16, 1970||5||5||1|
|Jimmy Ellis||United States||WBA||April 27, 1968||February 16, 1970||1||1||1,14|
|Joe Frazier||United States||WBA and WBC||February 16, 1970||January 22, 1973||4||4||Unified WBA and WBC titles.15|
|George Foreman||United States||WBA and WBC||January 22, 1973||October 30, 1974||2||2|
|Muhammad Ali (Second reign)||United States||WBA and WBC||October 30, 1974||February 15, 1978||10||10|
|Leon Spinks||United States||WBA and WBC||February 15, 1978||March 18, 1978||0||0||3|
|Leon Spinks||United States||WBA||March 18, 1978||September 15, 1978||0||0|
|Ken Norton||United States||WBC||March 18, 1978||June 9, 1978||0||0||16|
|Larry Holmes||United States||WBC||June 9, 1978||December 11, 1983||16||16||2|
|Muhammad Ali (Third reign)||United States||WBA||September 15, 1978||April 27, 1979||0||0||2|
|John Tate||United States||WBA||October 20, 1979||March 31, 1980||0||0||1|
|Mike Weaver||United States||WBA||March 31, 1980||December 10, 1982||2||2|
|Michael Dokes||United States||WBA||December 10, 1982||September 23, 1983||1||1|
|Gerrie Coetzee||South Africa||WBA||September 23, 1983||December 1, 1984||0||0|
|Larry Holmes||United States||IBF||December 11, 1983||September 21, 1985||3||3||17|
|Tim Witherspoon||United States||WBC||March 9, 1984||August 31, 1984||0||0||1|
|Pinklon Thomas||United States||WBC||August 31, 1984||March 22, 1986||1||1|
|Greg Page||United States||WBA||December 1, 1984||April 29, 1985||0||0|
|Tony Tubbs||United States||WBA||April 29, 1985||January 17, 1986||0||0|
|Michael Spinks||United States||IBF||September 21, 1985||February 19, 1987||2||2||3|
|Tim Witherspoon (Second reign)||United States||WBA||January 17, 1986||December 12, 1986||1||1|
|Trevor Berbick||Canada||WBC||March 22, 1986||November 22, 1986||0||0|
|Mike Tyson||United States||WBC||November 22, 1986||March 7, 1987||1||1|
|James "Bonecrusher" Smith||United States||WBA||December 12, 1986||March 7, 1987||0||0|
|Mike Tyson||United States||WBA and WBC||March 7, 1987||August 1, 1987||2||2||Unified WBA and WBC titles.|
|Tony Tucker||United States||IBF||May 30, 1987||August 1, 1987||0||0||1|
|Mike Tyson||United States||IBF, WBA and WBC||August 1, 1987||February 11, 1990||6||6||Unified IBF, WBA and WBC titles.|
|Francesco Damiani||Italy||WBO||May 6, 1989||January 11, 1991||1||1||1|
|James "Buster" Douglas||United States||IBF, WBA and WBC||February 11, 1990||October 25, 1990||0||0|
|Evander Holyfield||United States||IBF, WBA and WBC||October 25, 1990||November 13, 1992||3||3|
|Ray Mercer||United States||WBO||January 11, 1991||December 24, 1991||1||1||3|
|Michael Moorer||United States||WBO||May 15, 1992||February 3, 1993||0||0||1,2|
|Riddick Bowe||United States||IBF, WBA and WBC||November 13, 1992||December 14, 1992||0||0||2|
|Riddick Bowe||United States||IBF and WBA||December 14, 1992||November 6, 1993||2||2|
|Lennox Lewis||United Kingdom||WBC||December 14, 1992||September 24, 1994||3||3||18|
|Tommy Morrison||United States||WBO||June 7, 1993||October 29, 1993||1||1||1|
|Michael Bentt||United States||WBO||October 29, 1993||March 19, 1994||0||0|
|Evander Holyfield (Second reign)||United States||IBF and WBA||November 6, 1993||April 22, 1994||0||0|
|Herbie Hide||United Kingdom||WBO||March 19, 1994||March 11, 1995||0||0|
|Michael Moorer (Second reign)||United States||IBF and WBA||April 22, 1994||November 5, 1994||0||0|
|Oliver McCall||United States||WBC||September 24, 1994||September 2, 1995||1||1|
|George Foreman (Second reign)||United States||IBF and WBA||November 5, 1994||March 4, 1995||0||0||3|
|George Foreman||United States||IBF||March 4, 1995||June 28, 1995||1||1||2|
|Riddick Bowe (Second reign)||United States||WBO||March 11, 1995||May 1, 1996||1||1||3|
|Bruce Seldon||United States||WBA||April 8, 1995||September 7, 1996||1||1||1|
|Frank Bruno||United Kingdom||WBC||September 2, 1995||March 16, 1996||0||0||1|
|Francois Botha||South Africa||IBF||December 9, 1995||March 27, 1996||0||0||26|
|Mike Tyson (Second reign)||United States||WBC||March 16, 1996||September 7, 1996||0||0|
|Michael Moorer (Third reign)||United States||IBF||June 22, 1996||November 8, 1997||2||2||1,19|
|Henry Akinwande||United Kingdom||WBO||June 29, 1996||February 17, 1997||2||2||1,2|
|Mike Tyson||United States||WBA and WBC||September 7, 1996||September 24, 1996||0||0||2|
|Mike Tyson||United States||WBA||September 24, 1996||November 9, 1996||0||0|
|Evander Holyfield (Third reign)||United States||WBA||November 9, 1996||November 8, 1997||2||2|
|Lennox Lewis (Second reign)||United Kingdom||WBC||February 7, 1997||November 13, 1999||6||5||1|
|Herbie Hide (Second reign)||United Kingdom||WBO||June 28, 1997||June 26, 1999||2||2||1|
|Evander Holyfield||United States||IBF and WBA||November 8, 1997||November 13, 1999||2||2||Unified IBF and WBA titles.|
|Vitali Klitschko||Ukraine||WBO||June 26, 1999||April 1, 2000||2||2|
|Lennox Lewis||United Kingdom||IBF, WBA and WBC||November 13, 1999||April 29, 2000||0||0||Unified IBF, WBA and WBC titles.3|
|Chris Byrd||United States||WBO||April 1, 2000||October 14, 2000||0||0|
|Lennox Lewis||United Kingdom||IBF and WBC||April 29, 2000||April 22, 2001||3||3|
|Evander Holyfield (Fourth reign)||United States||WBA||August 12, 2000||March 3, 2001||0||0||1|
|Wladimir Klitschko||Ukraine||WBO||October 14, 2000||March 8, 2003||5||5|
|John Ruiz||United States||WBA||March 3, 2001||March 1, 2003||2||2|
|Hasim Rahman||United States||IBF and WBC||April 22, 2001||November 17, 2001||0||0|
|Lennox Lewis (Third reign)||United Kingdom||IBF and WBC||November 17, 2001||September 5, 2002||1||1||2|
|Lennox Lewis||United Kingdom||WBC||September 5, 2002||February 6, 2004||1||1||2|
|Chris Byrd (Second reign)||United States||IBF||December 14, 2002||April 22, 2006||4||4||1|
|Roy Jones, Jr.||United States||WBA||March 1, 2003||February 20, 2004||0||0||2|
|Corrie Sanders||South Africa||WBO||March 8, 2003||October 9, 2003||0||0||2|
|John Ruiz (Second reign)||United States||WBA||February 20, 2004||December 17, 2005||2||2||20|
|Lamon Brewster||United States||WBO||April 10, 2004||April 1, 2006||3||3||1|
|Vitali Klitschko (Second reign)||Ukraine||WBC||April 24, 2004||November 9, 2005||1||1||1,2|
|Hasim Rahman (Second reign)||United States||WBC||November 9, 2005||August 12, 2006||1||1||21|
|Nikolai Valuev||Russia||WBA||December 17, 2005||April 14, 2007||3||3|
|Siarhei Liakhovich||Belarus||WBO||April 1, 2006||November 4, 2006||0||0|
|Wladimir Klitschko (Second reign)||Ukraine||IBF||April 22, 2006||February 23, 2008||4||4|
|Oleg Maskaev||Russia||WBC||August 12, 2006||March 8, 2008||1||1|
|Shannon Briggs||United States||WBO||November 4, 2006||June 2, 2007||0||0|
|Ruslan Chagaev||Uzbekistan||WBA||April 14, 2007||June 20, 2009||2||2||22|
|Sultan Ibragimov||Russia||WBO||June 2, 2007||February 23, 2008||1||1|
|Wladimir Klitschko||Ukraine||IBF and WBO||February 23, 2008||July 2, 2011||6||6||Unified IBF and WBO titles.|
|Samuel Peter||Nigeria||WBC||March 8, 2008||October 11, 2008||0||0|
|Nikolai Valuev (Second reign)||Russia||WBA||August 30, 2008||November 7, 2009||1||1||1,22|
|Vitali Klitschko (Third reign)||Ukraine||WBC||October 11, 2008||December 15, 2013||9||9||2|
|David Haye||United Kingdom||WBA||November 7, 2009||July 2, 2011||2||2|
|Wladimir Klitschko||Ukraine||IBF, WBA "Super" and WBO||July 2, 2011||November 28, 2015||8||7||Unified IBF, WBA and WBO titles.|
|Alexander Povetkin||Russia||WBA "Regular"||August 27, 2011||October 5, 2013||4||4||1,23|
|Bermane Stiverne||Canada||WBC||May 10, 2014||January 17, 2015||0||0||1|
|Ruslan Chagaev (Second reign)||Uzbekistan||WBA "Regular"||July 6, 2014||March 5, 2016||1||1||1|
|Deontay Wilder||United States||WBC||January 17, 2015||Present||9||8|
|Tyson Fury||United Kingdom||IBF, WBA "Super" and WBO||November 28, 2015||December 8, 2015||0||0||3 Shortest reign|
|Tyson Fury||United Kingdom||WBA "Super" and WBO||December 8, 2015||October 12, 2016||0||0||2|
|Charles Martin||United States||IBF||January 16, 2016||April 9, 2016||0||0||1|
|Lucas Browne||Australia||WBA "Regular"||March 5, 2016||May 12, 2016||0||0||24|
|Anthony Joshua||United Kingdom||IBF||April 9, 2016||April 29, 2017||3||3|
|Ruslan Chagaev (Third reign)||Uzbekistan||WBA "Regular"||May 12, 2016||July 25, 2016||0||0||3|
|Joseph Parker||New Zealand||WBO||December 10, 2016||March 31, 2018||2||2||1|
|Anthony Joshua||United Kingdom||IBF and WBA "Super"||April 29, 2017||March 31, 2018||2||2||1|
|Manuel Charr||Syria||WBA "Regular"||November 25, 2017||Present||0||0||1|
|Anthony Joshua||United Kingdom||IBF, WBA "Super", WBO and IBO||March 31, 2018||June 1, 2019||1||1||Unified IBF, WBA and WBO tiles.|
|Andy Ruiz Jr.||Mexico, United States||IBF, WBA "Super", WBO and IBO||June 1, 2019||Present||0||0|
- 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 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 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, New York. 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 defeated him via first-round knockout on February 21, 1896. Fitzsimmons in turn was defeated by Tom Sharkey of Dundalk 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 and Jack Root for the championship. Jeffries returned to the ring to challenge Jack Johnson.
- The British National Sporting Club 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 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 by controversial disqualification. The New York State Athletic Commission 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 championship title. Savold defeated Woodcock in four rounds to win the IBU title, while Charles gained New York State Athletic Commission recognition and wide public acclaim as champion upon defeating former champion Joe Louis in September 1950. On June 15, 1951, Joe Louis defeat 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 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 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 and other sanctioning groups continued to recognize Ali as champion.
- The World Boxing Association, World Boxing Council, New York State Athletic Commission 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 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, 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 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 on March 8, 1971.
- In an unprecedented move, upon withdrawing its recognition of Leon Spinks as champion, the World Boxing Council immediately recognized Ken Norton as champion, based on an earlier victory over 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 championship and accepted championship recognition bestowed by the newly organized International Boxing Federation.
- Following its 1978 precedent, upon withdrawing championship recognition from Riddick Bowe, the World Boxing Council 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 sanctioned a December 9, 1995 match between Francois Botha 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'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 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 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 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'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 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
- Botha defeated Axel Shultz for the vacant International Boxing Federation title, but Botha subsequently tested positive for nandralone, a banned substance. Following confirmation of the positive result, the IBF withdrew its recognition of Botha, next awarding its title to the winner of a bout between Shultz and Michael Moorer.
Current status of prominent championship titles
- Andy Ruiz Jr. is the organization's currently recognized 'super' champion.
- Manuel Charr is currently recognized as the organization's 'regular' champion. His next defence of this title is scheduled to be against WBA 'interim' champion Trevor Bryan. Agreement for the bout was reached on May 28, 2019, but details have not been announced.
- Trevor Bryan is currently recognized as the organization's 'interim' champion, having being awarded that distinction on August 11, 2018 by defeating B.J. Flores. His next bout will be against WBA 'regular' champion, Manuel Charr for Charr's title, at which time win or lose his 'interim' championship will be vacated. Agreement for the bout was reached on May 28, 2019, but details have not been announced.
- Deontay Wilder is the organization's currently recognized champion. His last defence of this title occurred on May 18, 2019, defeating Dominic Breazeale.
List of combined reigns
As of March 5, 2018. This list includes only major titles, and it does not include lineal championships after 1921.
- Active title reign
- Reign has ended
- WBO heavyweight title bouts before August 1997 are not included
|Pos.||Name||Combined reign||Days as champion||Number of reigns||Title recognition||Cumulative title wins||Opponents beaten|
|1.||Wladimir Klitschko||12 years, 0 months, 0 days||4 382||2||IBF, WBA, WBO||25||23|
|2.||Joe Louis||11 years, 8 months, 8 days||4 270||1||NYSAC, NBA||27||22|
|3.||Muhammad Ali||9 years, 5 months, 5 days||3 443||3||NYSAC, WBC, WBA||22||21|
|4.||Lennox Lewis||8 years, 5 months, 13 days||3 086||3||WBC, IBF, WBA||15||15|
|5.||Vitali Klitschko||7 years, 5 months, 28 days||2 735||3||WBO, WBC||15||15|
|6.||Larry Holmes||7 years, 3 months, 12 days||2 661||1||WBC, IBF||20||20|
|7.||Jack Dempsey||7 years, 2 months, 19 days||2 638||1||NYSAC, NBA||6||6|
|8.||John L. Sullivan||7 years, 0 months, 10 days||2 566||1||Universal||5||5|
|9.||Jack Johnson||6 years, 3 months, 11 days||2 292||1||Universal||7||7|
|10.||Evander Holyfield||6 years, 1 month, 1 day||2 223||4||WBA, WBC, IBF||11||10|
|11.||James J. Jeffries||5 years, 11 months, 4 days||2 156||1||Universal||8||6|
|12.||Joe Frazier||4 years, 10 months, 18 days||1 785||1||NYSAC, WBA, WBC||10||10|
|13.||Floyd Patterson||4 years, 10 months, 0 days||1 765||2||NYSAC, NBA||8||7|
|14.||James J. Corbett||4 years, 6 months, 10 days||1 652||1||Universal||2||2|
|15.||Jess Willard||4 years, 2 months, 29 days||1 551||1||Universal||2||2|
|16.||Chris Byrd||3 years, 10 months, 22 days||1 421||2||IBF, WBO||5||5|
|17.||Mike Tyson||3 years, 10 months, 16 days||1 415||2||WBA, WBC, IBF||12||11|
|18.||John Ruiz||3 years, 9 months, 21 days||1 390||2||WBA||4||4|
|19.||Rocky Marciano||3 years, 7 months, 5 days||1 312||1||NYSAC, NBA||7||5|
|20.||Deontay Wilder||3 years, 2 months, 10 days||1 137||1||WBC||9||8|
List of individual reigns
The list includes both The Ring and lineal championships. Career total time as champion (for multiple time champions) does not apply.
- Active Title Reign
- Reign has ended
- The WBO heavyweight title bouts before August 1997 are not included
|Pos.||Name||Title Reign||Title recognition||Successful Defenses||Opponents beaten|
|1.||Joe Louis||11 years, 8 months, 8 days||Universal||26||21|
|2.||Wladimir Klitschko||9 years, 7 months and 6 days||IBF (+WBA, WBO, The Ring)||18||17|
|3.||Larry Holmes||7 years, 3 months, 12 days||WBC-to-IBF (+The Ring/Lineal)||19||19|
|4.||Jack Dempsey||7 years, 2 months, 19 days||Universal||5||5|
|5.||John L. Sullivan||7 years, 0 months, 9 days||Universal||5||5|
|6.||Jack Johnson||6 years, 3 months, 10 days||Universal||8||8|
|7.||Muhammad Ali||5 years, 11 months, 9 days||The Ring/Lineal, (+WBA, WBC stripped)||9||9|
|8.||James J. Jeffries||5 years, 11 months, 4 days||Universal||7||6|
|9.||Vitali Klitschko||5 years, 2 months, 4 days||WBC||9||9|
|10.||Joe Frazier||4 years, 10 months, 18 days||NYSAC (+WBA, WBC)||9||9|
|11.||James J. Corbett||4 years, 6 months, 10 days||Universal||1||1|
|12.||Jess Willard||4 years, 2 months, 29 days||Universal||1||1|
|13.||Lennox Lewis||4 years, 2 months, 15 days||WBC (+IBF, WBA stripped, The Ring/Lineal)||9||8|
|14.||Rocky Marciano||3 years, 11 months, 29 days||Universal||6||5|
|15.||Chris Byrd||3 years, 4 months, 8 days||IBF||4||4|
|16.||Mike Tyson||3 years, 2 months, 20 days||WBC (+WBA, IBF, The Ring/Lineal)||9||9|
|17.||Deontay Wilder||3 years, 2 months, 14 days||WBC||9||8|
|18.||George Foreman||3 years, 0 months, 17 days||Lineal (+WBA, IBF stripped)||2||2|
|19.||Evander Holyfield||3 years, 0 months, 4 days||WBA (+IBF)||4||4|
|20.||Tommy Burns||2 years, 10 months, 3 days||Universal||11||9|
- 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
- Florio, John; Shapiro, Ouisie (2013). One Punch from the Promised Land: Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks, and the Myth of the Heavyweight Title. Lyons Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-7627-8300-7.
- "Boxing champions list". ESPN.com. February 23, 2015.
- "Boxing champions list". ESPN.com. February 23, 2015.
- "Boxing champions list". ESPN.com. February 23, 2015.
- "Boxing champions list". ESPN.com. February 23, 2015.
- "Boxing champions list". ESPN.com. February 23, 2015.
- "Boxing champions list". ESPN.com. February 23, 2015.
- Rafael, Dan. "Lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury to be co-promoted by Top Rank". espn.co.uk. Retrieved June 2, 2019.
Top Rank is very excited to enter into the promotional arrangement along with Queensberry Promotions for the lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury,
- James B. Roberts, Alexander G. Skutt: The Boxing Register: International Boxing Hall of Fame Official Record Book, p. 331–32. The record of Ricardo Lopez indicates his opponent Alex Sanchez 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
- Arnold, Peter (1989). Encyclopedia of Boxing. London: WH Smith Books. ISBN 1-85435-200-8.
- Boxing Title Fights
- Barry Hugman's Lineal Champions
- NBA World Heavyweight Champion - BoxRec
- NYSAC World Heavyweight Champion - BoxRec
- The BoxRec Wiki Encyclopedia
- The Boxing Register: International Boxing Hall Of Fame Official Record Book (archive)