How are there so many different “world champions” for the same weight class in boxing? How does it work?

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For example, Andy Ruiz Jr is the “unified WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champion”, while Deontay Wilder is the “WBC heavyweight champion”. Does that mean Ruiz Jr has four title belts and Wilder has one? So if Andy Ruiz Jr has a title fight and loses, does that mean he still has three other title belts? Is there like a hierarchy for the belts in terms of the most competitive?

I try to compare this in my head to other sports to make sense of it but I just can’t. With soccer, there are different leagues, for example English Premier League is the most competitive, then the Sky Bet Championship is the second highest, Sky Bet League 1 is the third, etc. But obviously when the EPL champion plays the champion of the other leagues, they will win all of the titles.

Or if I compare it to MMA, UFC is the top league, Bellator is the second league, etc. Fighters sign contracts with each league, which prevents them from simultaneously competing in both leagues? I think that is how it works. So pretty much you cannot have a “united” champion of both leagues, and you must surrender your lower league belt prior to signing a contract with the higher league.

Can someone please explain this to me?

In: Other

WBA, IBF, BO and IBO are all different boxing organizations.

Imagine it more like there was an NBA, and a Southern Basketball League and a Northern Basketball League and a World Basketball League and a International Basketball League and all of the same teams played. You could have one team hold the titles for all of the leagues.

With boxing, there are different federations, organizations, associations etc with different monetary backers and different prestige.

What tends to happen, is that champs from different organizations fight each other to “Unify” belts. So one fighter will take 2 or 3 belts off of one champ to “unify” them under one holder.

Your comparison to football leagues is a poor analogy. Within a country, football leagues are a pyramid system. In England, the Premier League Champions playing the Championship Champions and winning will NOT confer the Championship title to them.

Similarly, the Champions of Spain beating the Champions of Italy will not make them Champions of Italy, too.

Boxing is a bit odd but there are parallel organizations and belts and fights are sanctioned by those organizations. Occasionally the multiple organizations will co-sanction fights so that their respective belts are on the line.