World Boxing Association
WBA logo
1921; 100 years ago (1921) (as NBA)

23 August 1962; 59 years ago (1962-08-23) (as WBA)

TypeNon-profit institution
PurposeBoxing sanctioning organization
HeadquartersPanama City, Panama
Region served
Gilberto Mendoza Jr.
Main organ
General Assembly

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.[1]

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."[2]

The NBA officially became the WBA on 23 August 1962.[3] 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.[4] In a 1982 interview, boxing promoter Bob Arum claimed that he had to pay off WBA officials to obtain rankings for his fighters.[5] 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.

Fragmented championships

The WBA presently can recognize up to four world champions in any given weight division, to a 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.[6] 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 complicates 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 occurs 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.

Boxer rankings

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.[7]

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.[8] Other recipients of the custom gold-plated belt are Anthony Joshua,[9] Vasyl Lomachenko,[10] Manny Pacquiao,[11] Oleksandr Usyk,[12] Canelo Álvarez[13] and Callum Smith.[14]

Current WBA world title holders

As of 14 December 2021


Weight class: Champion: Reign began: Days:
Minimumweight Thailand Thammanoon Niyomtrong (Super champion) 29 June 2016 2007
Dominican Republic Eric Rosa 21 December 2021 6
Light flyweight Japan Hiroto Kyoguchi (Super champion) 31 December 2018 1092
Mexico Esteban Bermudez 28 May 2021 213
Flyweight Ukraine Artem Dalakian 24 February 2018 1402
Super flyweight Mexico Juan Francisco Estrada (Super champion) 13 March 2021 289
United States Joshua Franco 23 June 2020 552
Bantamweight Japan Naoya Inoue (Super champion) 7 November 2019 781
Super bantamweight Uzbekistan Murodjon Akhmadaliev (Super champion) 30 January 2020 697
Featherweight Mexico Léo Santa Cruz (Super champion) 28 January 2017
United Kingdom Leigh Wood 31 July 2021 149
Super featherweight Venezuela Roger Gutiérrez 2 January 2021 359
Lightweight Australia George Kambosos Jr. (Super champion) 27 November 2021 0
United States Gervonta Davis 28 December 2019 730
Super lightweight United Kingdom Josh Taylor (Super champion) 26 October 2019 793
Welterweight Cuba Yordenis Ugás (Super champion) 29 January 2021 332
Russia Radzhab Butaev 30 October 2021 58
Super welterweight United States Jermell Charlo (Super champion) 26 September 2020 457
Middleweight Japan Ryota Murata (Super champion) 6 January 2021 721
Cuba Erislandy Lara 1 May 2021 240
Super middleweight Mexico Canelo Álvarez (Super champion) 19 December 2020 373
Cuba David Morrell 19 January 2021 342
Light heavyweight Russia Dmitry Bivol (Super champion) 21 May 2016 2046
Cruiserweight France Arsen Goulamirian (Super champion) 31 May 2019 941
Belgium Ryad Merhy 29 January 2021 332
Heavyweight Ukraine Oleksandr Usyk (Super champion) 25 September 2021 93
United States Trevor Bryan 29 January 2021 332


Weight class: Champion: Reign began: Days:
Light minimumweight (102 lbs) Mexico Monserrat Alarcón 31 August 2018 1214
Minimumweight (105 lbs) United States Seniesa Estrada 20 March 2021 282
Light flyweight (108 lbs) Argentina Yésica Bopp (Super champion) 30 September 2018 1184
Mexico Guadalupe Bautista (Regular champion) 12 December 2020 380
Flyweight (112 lbs) Japan Naoko Fujioka 13 March 2017 1750
Super flyweight (115 lbs) Mexico Maribel Ramírez 19 May 2018 1318
Bantamweight (118 lbs) United Kingdom Shannon Courtenay 10 April 2021 261
Super bantamweight (122 lbs) Venezuela Mayerlin Rivas 7 February 2020 689
Featherweight (126 lbs) Mexico Erika Cruz 22 April 2021 249
Super featherweight (130 lbs) South Korea Choi Hyun-mi 15 August 2013 3056
Lightweight (135 lbs) Republic of Ireland Katie Taylor 28 October 2017 1521
Super lightweight (140 lbs) United States Kali Reis 6 November 2020 416
Welterweight (147 lbs) United States Jessica McCaskill 15 August 2020 499
Super welterweight (154 lbs) United Kingdom Hannah Rankin 5 November 2021 52
Middleweight (160 lbs) United States Claressa Shields 22 June 2018 1284
Super middleweight (168 lbs) Sweden Elin Cederroos 10 January 2020 717
Light heavyweight (168+ lbs) uninaugurated

Affiliated organizations

Transitions of WBA titles


  1. ^ Mullan, Harry (1996). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Boxing. London: Carlton Books. p. 121. ISBN 0-7858-0641-5.
  2. ^ "Boxing Bodies: A Brief Chronology and Rundown". International Boxing Digest. 40 (1): 58. January 1998.
  3. ^ "World Boxing Association History". WBA. Retrieved September 2, 2018.
  4. ^ Heller, Peter (1988). Bad Intentions: The Mike Tyson Story. New York: New American Library. pp. 141–142. ISBN 0-688-10123-2.
  5. ^ Mullan. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Boxing. p. 122.
  6. ^ Gabriel F. Cordero (November 30, 2012). ""Chocolatito" is the latest WBA super champion". Archived from the original on December 2, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
  7. ^ "WBA ranking update leaves questions and criticism". Asian Boxing.
  8. ^ "WBA "Man of Triumph" Trophy".
  9. ^ "WBA special belt for the Klitschko-Joshua".
  10. ^ "Lomachenko and Linares Special Super Belt Made".
  11. ^ "Paccquiao and Matthysse Special Super Belt Made".
  12. ^ "Gilberto Jesus Mendoza will travel to Russia".
  13. ^ "Boxing News: Special WBA belt for GGG-Canelo winner » December 4, 2019". September 14, 2017.
  14. ^ "The WBA will make history in Saudi Arabia".
  15. ^ "WBA Intercontinental Champions".
  16. ^ "WBA International Champions".