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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
As of 14 December 2021
|Weight class:||Champion:||Reign began:||Days:|
|Minimumweight||Thammanoon Niyomtrong (Super champion)||29 June 2016||2007|
|Eric Rosa||21 December 2021||6|
|Light flyweight||Hiroto Kyoguchi (Super champion)||31 December 2018||1092|
|Esteban Bermudez||28 May 2021||213|
|Flyweight||Artem Dalakian||24 February 2018||1402|
|Super flyweight||Juan Francisco Estrada (Super champion)||13 March 2021||289|
|Joshua Franco||23 June 2020||552|
|Bantamweight||Naoya Inoue (Super champion)||7 November 2019||781|
|Super bantamweight||Murodjon Akhmadaliev (Super champion)||30 January 2020||697|
|Featherweight||Léo Santa Cruz (Super champion)||28 January 2017
|Leigh Wood||31 July 2021||149|
|Super featherweight||Roger Gutiérrez||2 January 2021||359|
|Lightweight||George Kambosos Jr. (Super champion)||27 November 2021||0|
|Gervonta Davis||28 December 2019||730|
|Super lightweight||Josh Taylor (Super champion)||26 October 2019||793|
|Welterweight||Yordenis Ugás (Super champion)||29 January 2021||332|
|Radzhab Butaev||30 October 2021||58|
|Super welterweight||Jermell Charlo (Super champion)||26 September 2020||457|
|Middleweight||Ryota Murata (Super champion)||6 January 2021||721|
|Erislandy Lara||1 May 2021||240|
|Super middleweight||Canelo Álvarez (Super champion)||19 December 2020||373|
|David Morrell||19 January 2021||342|
|Light heavyweight||Dmitry Bivol (Super champion)||21 May 2016||2046|
|Cruiserweight||Arsen Goulamirian (Super champion)||31 May 2019||941|
|Ryad Merhy||29 January 2021||332|
|Heavyweight||Oleksandr Usyk (Super champion)||25 September 2021||93|
|Trevor Bryan||29 January 2021||332|
|Weight class:||Champion:||Reign began:||Days:|
|Light minimumweight (102 lbs)||Monserrat Alarcón||31 August 2018||1214|
|Minimumweight (105 lbs)||Seniesa Estrada||20 March 2021||282|
|Light flyweight (108 lbs)||Yésica Bopp (Super champion)||30 September 2018||1184|
|Guadalupe Bautista (Regular champion)||12 December 2020||380|
|Flyweight (112 lbs)||Naoko Fujioka||13 March 2017||1750|
|Super flyweight (115 lbs)||Maribel Ramírez||19 May 2018||1318|
|Bantamweight (118 lbs)||Shannon Courtenay||10 April 2021||261|
|Super bantamweight (122 lbs)||Mayerlin Rivas||7 February 2020||689|
|Featherweight (126 lbs)||Erika Cruz||22 April 2021||249|
|Super featherweight (130 lbs)||Choi Hyun-mi||15 August 2013||3056|
|Lightweight (135 lbs)||Katie Taylor||28 October 2017||1521|
|Super lightweight (140 lbs)||Kali Reis||6 November 2020||416|
|Welterweight (147 lbs)||Jessica McCaskill||15 August 2020||499|
|Super welterweight (154 lbs)||Hannah Rankin||5 November 2021||52|
|Middleweight (160 lbs)||Claressa Shields||22 June 2018||1284|
|Super middleweight (168 lbs)||Elin Cederroos||10 January 2020||717|
|Light heavyweight (168+ lbs)||uninaugurated|