A Complete List of Heavyweight Champions in Professional Boxing

Boxer in boxing ring
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The heavyweight division of professional boxing has always been and will always be the glamor division of the sport. The big money and the majority of the media attention get turned onto the big boys. For example, the following heavyweight champions are household names: Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson, George Foreman and ​Lennox Lewis. It seems all the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport are campaigning in lower weight categories.

Determining a Champion

There are four major sanctioning bodies in professional boxing. As such, there is the possibility to have at least four reigning champions. There can be more champions, such as the lineal champion or The Ring magazine champion as well. In some cases, some or all of the sanctioning bodies agree on the champion, crowning a champ as a "Super Champion," "Unified Champion" or "Undisputed Champion."

World Boxing Association

The World Boxing Association (WBA) is the oldest of the four major organizations that sanction world championship boxing bouts. The WBA awards the WBA world championship title at the professional level. Founded in the United States in 1921 by thirteen state representatives as the National Boxing Association (NBA), in 1962, it changed its name in recognition of boxing's growing popularity worldwide and began to gain other nations as members.

World Boxing Council

The World Boxing Council (WBC) was founded in Mexico City, Mexico, on February 14, 1963, in order to establish an international regulating body. The WBC established many of today's safety measures in boxing, such as the standing eight count, a limit of 12 rounds instead of 15 and additional weight divisions.

International Boxing Federation

The International Boxing Federation (IBF) originated in September 1976 as the United States Boxing Association (USBA). It is one of four major organizations recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame to sanction world championship boxing bouts.

World Boxing Organization

The World Boxing Organization (WBO) was founded in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1988. By 2012 when the Japan Boxing Commission officially recognized the governing body, it had gained similar status to the other three major sanctioning bodies. Its motto is "dignity, democracy, honesty."

Reigning Heavyweight World Champions

Let's take a look at the current champions as of April 2017 in the heavyweight class of professional boxing. The heavyweight class is officially defined by a boxer weighing 200-plus pounds. 

Sanctioning Body Reigning Champion (Reign Start Date)
WBA Vacant- Tyson Fury of the United Kingdom vacated his title surrounding an investigation on anti-doping and substance abuse issues
WBC Deontay Wilder- USA (January 17, 2015)
IBF Anthony Joshua- United Kingdom (April 9, 2016)
WBO Joseph Parker- New Zealand (December 10, 2016)

The Ring and Lineal Champion

Tyson Luke Fury, a British professional boxer, has held the Ring Magazine and lineal heavyweight titles since 2015, after defeating the long-reigning world champion Wladimir Klitschko. In the same fight, Fury also won the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO titles, with the victory earning him Fighter of the Year and Upset of the Year awards by The Ring.

However, in October 2016, Fury vacated his official sanctioned titles in October 2016 pending investigation on anti-doping and other medical issues. The same month the British Boxing Board of Control suspended Fury's boxing license.