List of heavyweight boxing champions


List of heavyweight boxing champions

This is a chronological list of world heavyweight boxing champions since the introduction of the Marquess of Queensberry rules:

Championship recognition

1885-1910

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.also in the 19900s

1910-1961

Championship awarding organizations

* The International Boxing Union (IBU), formed in Paris in 1910. Changed name to European Boxing Union in 1946. It organised world title fights from 1913 to 1963 after which it was incorporated into the World Boxing Council (WBC).
* The New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC), formed in 1920. It organised world title bouts until the early 1970s when it became a member of World Boxing Council (WBC).
* The National Boxing Association (NBA) formed in the USA in 1921.
* Other bodies including the National Sporting Club in Great Britain and the California State Boxing Commission awarded world titles but this did not affect the heavyweight division.

1961-present

Championship awarding organizations

* The World Boxing Association (WBA), founded in 1921 as the National Boxing Association (NBA); it changed its name in 1961 and allowed membership from outside the USA.
* The World Boxing Council (WBC), founded in 1963.
* The International Boxing Federation (IBF), founded in 1983.
* The World Boxing Organization (WBO), founded in 1988.
{| border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="0"
- style="background:#efefef;"!Reign Began...!Reign Ended!Champion!Recognition!Nationality
-
August 29, 1885
September 7, 1892
flagicon|USA John L. Sullivan
Universal
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Sullivan defeated Paddy Ryan in 1882 for the American bare knuckle championship. In the absence of any challengers from outside America he gradually became acknowledged as world bare knuckle champion. On August 29, 1885, he outpointed Dominic McCaffrey in Chester Park, Cincinnati, in a bout described as being "to decide the Marquess of Queensberry glove contest for the championship of the world" "
-
September 7, 1892
March 17, 1897
flagicon|USA James J. Corbett
Universal
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"James J. Corbett announced his retirement from boxing in 1895 and nominated his protege Steve O'Donnell as his successor. Tradition demanded that O'Donnell win the world title in the ring so he was matched against the erratic Irish boxer Peter Maher. The bout took place at the Empire Athletic club, Maspeth, New York on 11 November, 1895, Maher surprisingly defeated O'Donnell via first round knockout. The general public had little acceptance of the new champion and even Maher himself expressed a wish to fight Corbett for the "real" title. Maher defended his "world title" against the British-born Bob Fitzsimmons in Coahuila de Zaragoza, Mexico on February 21, 1896, and was himself the victim of a first round knockout. Fitzsimmons then fought another Irish fighter, Tom Sharkey of Dundalk on December 2, 1896, in San Francisco, the bout being billed for the heavyweight title. Sharkey was awarded victory by disqualification in round 8 by the referee, Wyatt Earp. Corbett announced his return to the ring late in 1896 and the claims of Maher, Fitzsimmons (until 1897) and Sharkey to be champion are usually ignored."
-
March 17, 1897
June 9, 1899
flagicon|UK Bob Fitzsimmons
Universal
British
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Fitzsimmons became an American citizen in 1898"
-
June 9, 1899
May 13, 19051
flagicon|USA James J. Jeffries
Universal
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Jeffries was the first modern champion to relinquish the title, announcing his retirement and declaring that the winner of a match between Marvin Hart and Jack Root would be the next legitimate champion. Jeffries would return to the ring to face Jack Johnson."
-
July 3, 1905
February 23, 1906
flagicon|USA Marvin Hart
Universal
American
-
February 23, 1906
December 26, 1908
flagicon|CAN|1868 Tommy Burns
Universal
Canadian
-
December 26, 1908
April 5, 1915
flagicon|USA Jack Johnson
Universal
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Jack Johnson's refusal to honor an agreement made by his manager to defend against the British champion led the National Sporting Club in London, the most powerful body in boxing outside the USA, to withdraw recognition of Johnson as champion. They matched Canadian Sam Langford and the British champion William "Iron" Hague for their version of the title. Langford beat Hague on a fourth round knockout in London on May 24, 1909. Langford returned home to America and never pressed his claim to the title."
-
April 5, 1915
July 4, 1919
flagicon|USA Jess Willard
Universal
American
-
July 4, 1919
September 23, 1926
flagicon|USA Jack Dempsey
Universal
American
-
September 23, 1926
July 31, 19282
flagicon|USA Gene Tunney
Universal
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Tunney announced his retirement from professional boxing on July 31, 1928, relinquishing the championship."
-
June 12, 1930
June 21, 1932
flagicon|Weimar Republic Max Schmeling
Universal
German
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Schmeling defeated Jack Sharkey to earn universal recognition as champion."
-
June 21, 1932
June 29, 1933
flagicon|USA Jack Sharkey
Universal
American
-
June 29, 1933
June 14, 1934
flagicon|ITA|1861 Primo Carnera
Universal
Italian
-
June 14, 1934
June 13, 1935
flagicon|USA Max Baer
Universal
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"In late 1934 the International Boxing Union ordered world champion Max Baer to defend his title against the reigning European champion, Pierre Charles of Belgium. When Baer instead opted to fight James J. Braddock they withdrew recognition of him as champion. The IBU matched Charles with the American heavyweight George Godfrey for their version of the title with the fight taking place in Brussels, Belgium on 2 October, 1935. Godfrey won a fifteen round points decision but did not press any claim to the championship and was inactive for the next two years. The IBU then recognized Baer's successor, James J. Braddock, as champion."
-
June 13, 1935
June 22, 1937
flagicon|USA James J. Braddock
Universal
American
-
June 22, 1937
March 1, 19492
flagicon|USA Joe Louis
Universal
American
-
June 22, 1949
September 27, 1950
flagicon|USA Ezzard Charles
NBA
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Charles won the vacant National Boxing Association championship in June 1949, but was not universally recognized as champion until June 1951."
-
June 6, 1950
June 16, 1951
flagicon|USA Lee Savold
EBU
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"On the retirement of Joe Louis in March 1949, the European Boxing Union announced that a fight in May 1949 between Lee Savold of the USA and British champion Bruce Woodcock would determine their version of the world heavyweight title. The NYSAC and the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) also decided to recognize the winner of the fight as their champion but it was postponed for over a year due to injuries Woodcock had suffered in a car crash. The NYSAC decided instead to recognize the winner of the upcoming bout in September 1950 between Ezzard Charles and Joe Louis as their champion. Louis was returning to the ring after an absence of 27 months. When the fight for the EBU and BBBofC world heavyweight titles eventually took place in June 1950, Savold defeated Woodcock in four rounds."
-
September 27, 1950
June 16, 1951
flagicon|USA Ezzard Charles
NBA & NYSAC
American
-
June 16, 1951
July 18, 1951
flagicon|USA Ezzard Charles
Universal
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Following his defeat to Joe Louis in a non-title fight in June 1951, Lee Savold was no longer recognized as the world heavyweight champion by the EBU and the BBBofC, who both immediately transferred their recognition to Ezzard Charles. Charles therefore became universally recognized as world heavyweight champion."
-
July 18, 1951
September 23, 1952
flagicon|USA Jersey Joe Walcott
Universal
American
-
September 23, 1952
April 27, 19562
flagicon|USA Rocky Marciano
Universal
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Marciano announced his retirement from professional boxing, relinquishing the championship."
-
November 30, 1956
June 26, 1959
flagicon|USA Floyd Patterson
Universal
American
-
June 26, 1959
June 20, 1960
flagicon|SWE Ingemar Johansson
Universal
Swedish
-
June 20, 1960
September 25, 1962
flagicon|USA Floyd Patterson
Universal
American
-
September 25, 1962
February 25, 1964
flagicon|USA Sonny Liston
Universal
American
-
February 25, 1964
June 19, 1964
flagicon|USA Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali)
Universal
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"The WBA and the NYSAC withdrew their recognition of Clay (now known as Muhammad Ali) as champion for agreeing to an immediate rematch against Liston, a violation of the organization's rules at the time. The WBC and other organizations continued to recognize him. (See Ali versus Liston.)"
-
June 19, 1964
February 6, 1967
flagicon|USA Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali)
WBC
American
-
March 5, 1965
February 6, 1967
flagicon|USA Ernie Terrell
WBA & NYSAC
American
-
February 6, 1967
April 29, 1967
flagicon|USA Muhammad Ali
Universal
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"The WBA, the NYSAC and several other US state boxing commissions withdrew recognition of Ali as champion for his refusal to be inducted into the United States Army subsequent to being drafted in early 1967."
-
-
April 29, 1967
March, 1969
flagicon|USA Muhammad Ali
WBC
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"The WBC eventually followed the lead of the WBA and the NYSAC and stripped Ali of their title in March 1969"
-
March 4, 1968
February 16, 1970
flagicon|USA Joe Frazier
NYSAC
American
-
April 28, 1968
February 16, 1970
flagicon|USA Jimmy Ellis
WBA
American
-
February 16, 1970
January 22, 1973
flagicon|USA Joe Frazier
Universal
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:" Frazier and Ellis fought on February 16, 1970, at Madison Square Garden, New York. Frazier entered the ring as the holder of NYSAC version of the world title and Ellis held the WBA heavyweight title. The fight was also for the WBC title vacated by Muhammad Ali. Frazier defeated Ellis and was universally recognized as champion. He cemented his reputation upon defeating Muhammad Ali on March 8, 1971. (See Fight of the Century.)"
-
January 22, 1973
October 30, 1974
flagicon|USA George Foreman
Universal
American
-
October 30, 1974
February 15, 1978
flagicon|USA Muhammad Ali
Universal
American
-
February 15, 1978
March 18, 19783
flagicon|USA Leon Spinks
Universal
American
-
March 18, 1978
September 15, 1978
flagicon|USA Leon Spinks
WBA
American
-
March 18, 1978
June 9, 1978
flagicon|USA Ken Norton
WBC
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Spinks was stripped of his world title by the WBC for refusing to defend his title against their #1 ranked contender, Ken Norton. Spinks instead agreed to fight a return bout against Ali for the WBA crown. The WBC awarded Norton the title and, since he lost to Larry Holmes in his next defense, he is sometimes omitted from a list of heavyweight champions because he never won a world title fight"
-
June 9, 1978
December 11, 19831
flagicon|USA Larry Holmes
WBC
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Holmes relinquished his WBC title to assume the championship of the newly formed International Boxing Federation."
-
September 15, 1978
April 27, 19791
flagicon|USA Muhammad Ali
WBA
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Believing his career over, Ali relinquished his WBA title in exchange for a payment from promoter Don King, who was trying to stage a bout between then-WBC champ Larry Holmes and John Tate for the undisputed title. The bout never materialized, and Ali would return to the ring in 1980."
-
October 20, 1979
March 31, 1980
flagicon|USA John Tate
WBA
American
-
March 31, 1980
December 10, 1982
flagicon|USA Mike Weaver
WBA
American
-
December 10, 1982
September 23, 1983
flagicon|USA Michael Dokes
WBA
American
-
September 23, 1983
December 1, 1984
flagicon|RSA|1928 Gerrie Coetzee
WBA
South African
-
December 11, 1983
September 21, 1985
flagicon|USA Larry Holmes
IBF
American
-
March 9, 1984
August 31, 1984
flagicon|USA Tim Witherspoon
WBC
American
-
August 31, 1984
March 22, 1986
flagicon|USA Pinklon Thomas
WBC
American
-
December 1, 1984
April 29, 1985
flagicon|USA Greg Page
WBA
American
-
April 29, 1985
January 17, 1986
flagicon|USA Tony Tubbs
WBA
American
-
September 21, 1985
February 19, 19873
flagicon|USA Michael Spinks
IBF
American
-
January 17, 1986
December 12, 1986
flagicon|USA Tim Witherspoon
WBA
American
-
March 22, 1986
November 22, 1986
flagicon|CAN Trevor Berbick
WBC
Canadian
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Jamaican born Berbick was a naturalized Canadian citizen and former Canadian heavyweight champion"
-
November 22, 1986
March 7, 1987
flagicon|USA Mike Tyson
WBC
American
-
December 12, 1986
March 7, 1987
flagicon|USA James 'Bonecrusher' Smith
WBA
American
-
March 7, 1987
August 1, 1987
flagicon|USA Mike Tyson
WBA, WBC
American
-
May 30, 1987
August 1, 1987
flagicon|USA Tony Tucker
IBF
American
-
August 1, 1987
August 13, 1989
flagicon|USA Mike Tyson
IBF, WBA & WBC
American
-
May 6, 1989
August 13, 1989
flagicon|ITA Francesco Damiani
WBO
Italian
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Though Damiani defeated Johnny DuPlooy to become the WBO's first Heavyweight champion, Tyson's reign in the division during this period is virtually undisputed. Additionally, during this period Tyson also knocked out Michael Spinks who some regarded as the 'lineal champion."'
-
August 13, 1989
February 10, 1990
flagicon|USA Mike Tyson
Universal
American
-
February 10, 1990
October 25, 1990
flagicon|USA James "Buster" Douglas
IBF, WBA & WBC
American
-
October 25, 1990
November 13, 1992
flagicon|USA Evander Holyfield
IBF, WBA & WBC
American
-
January 11, 1991
December 24, 19913
flagicon|USA Ray Mercer
WBO
American
-
May 15, 1992
February 3, 19933
flagicon|USA Michael Moorer
WBO
American
-
November 13, 1992
December 14, 19923
flagicon|USA Riddick Bowe
IBF, WBA & WBC
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Bowe was stripped of his WBC championship for refusing to fight Lennox Lewis."
-
December 14, 1992
November 6, 1993
flagicon|USA Riddick Bowe
IBF & WBA
American
-
December 14, 1992
September 24, 1994
flagicon|UK Lennox Lewis
WBC
British
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Lewis defeated Razor Ruddock on October 31, 1992, in a WBC 'eliminator' fight. When Riddick Bowe's championship recognition was withdrawn by the organization, the WBC immediately awarded Lewis the title."
-
June 7, 1993
October 29, 1993
flagicon|USA Tommy Morrison
WBO
American
-
October 29, 1993
March 19, 1994
flagicon|USA Michael Bentt
WBO
American
-
November 6, 1993
April 22, 1994
flagicon|USA Evander Holyfield
IBF & WBA
American
-
March 19, 1994
March 11, 1995
flagicon|UK Herbie Hide
WBO
British
-
April 22, 1994
November 5, 1994
flagicon|USA Michael Moorer
IBF & WBA
American
-
September 24, 1994
September 2, 1995
flagicon|USA Oliver McCall
WBC
American
-
November 5, 1994
March 4, 19953
flagicon|USA George Foreman
IBF & WBA
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"The World Boxing Association withdrew its recognition of Foreman, but Foreman retained IBF championship recognition until it too was withdrawn."
-
March 4, 1995
June 28, 19953
flagicon|USA George Foreman
IBF
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"The IBF withdrew its recognition of Foreman when he declined a rematch with Axel Schulz of Germany. Schultz was matched with Francois Botha of South Africa for the vacant title. The bout took place on December 9, 1995 in Stuttgart and resulted in a split decision points victory for Botha. Botha however tested positive for illegal anabolic steroids in a post-fight drugs test and the result was changed to a no-contest. Although some record books continue to list Botha as a world champion, the IBF state that they do not regard that he was ever champion."
-
March 11, 1995
May 1, 19961
flagicon|USA Riddick Bowe
WBO
American
-
April 8, 1995
September 7, 1996
flagicon|USA Bruce Seldon
WBA
American
-
September 2, 1995
March 16, 1996
flagicon|UK Frank Bruno
WBC
British
-
March 16, 1996
September 7, 1996
flagicon|USA Mike Tyson
WBC
American
-
June 22, 1996
November 8, 1997
flagicon|USA Michael Moorer
IBF
American
-
June 29, 1996
February 17, 19971
flagicon|UK Henry Akinwande
WBO
British
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Akinwande had been ranked the WBC's #2 contender when he won the WBO title. The WBC, which has feuded with the WBO since the latter's founding in 1988, dropped Akinwande from its rankings altogether. Akinwande subsequently relinquished his WBO title in exchange for the opportunity to meet Lennox Lewis in a bout for the WBC championship."
-
September 7, 1996
September 24, 19961
flagicon|USA Mike Tyson
WBA & WBC
American
-
September 24, 1996
November 9, 1996
flagicon|USA Mike Tyson
WBA
American
-
November 9, 1996
November 8, 1997
flagicon|USA Evander Holyfield
WBA
American
-
February 7, 1997
November 13, 1999
flagicon|UK Lennox Lewis
WBC
British
-
June 28, 1997
June 26, 1999
flagicon|UK Herbie Hide
WBO
British
-
November 8, 1997
November 13, 1999
flagicon|USA Evander Holyfield
IBF & WBA
American
-
June 26, 1999
April 1, 2000
flagicon|UKR Vitali Klitschko
WBO
Ukrainian
-
November 13, 1999
April 29, 20003
flagicon|UK Lennox Lewis
IBF, WBA & WBC
British
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"In early 2000 the World Boxing Association and Lewis were sued by representatives of John Ruiz claiming that they had reneged on an agreement by which Ruiz would have fought Lewis for the WBA title. A New Jersey court ruled in favor of Ruiz, and ordered Lewis to either have his next bout against Ruiz or relinquish the title. Lewis elected instead to fight contender Michael Grant, relinquishing his WBA title on the day of the match."
-
April 1, 2000
October 14, 2000
flagicon|USAChris Byrd
WBO
American
-
April 29, 2000
April 22, 2001
flagicon|UK Lennox Lewis
IBF & WBC
British
-
August 12, 2000
March 3, 2001
flagicon|USA Evander Holyfield
WBA
American
-
October 14, 2000
March 8, 2003
flagicon|UKR Wladimir Klitschko
WBO
Ukrainian
-
March 3, 2001
March 1, 2003
flagicon|PUR John Ruiz
WBA
Puerto Rican
-
April 22, 2001
November 17, 2001
flagicon|USA Hasim Rahman
IBF & WBC
American
-
November 17, 2001
September 5, 20021
flagicon|UK Lennox Lewis
IBF & WBC
British
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Lewis relinquished the IBF title upon receiving payment of $1 million (US) by promoter Don King, who wished to stage a bout between Chris Byrd and Evander Holyfield for the vacant title."
-
September 5, 2002
February 6, 20042
flagicon|UK Lennox Lewis
WBC
British
-
December 14, 2002
April 22, 2006
flagicon|USA Chris Byrd
IBF
American
-
March 1, 2003
February 20, 20041
flagicon|USA Roy Jones Jr.
WBA
American
-
March 8, 2003
October 9, 20031
flagicon|RSA Corrie Sanders
WBO
South African
-
February 20, 2004
December 17, 2005
flagicon|PUR John Ruiz
WBA
Puerto Rican
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Ruiz beat Hasim Rahman on December 13, 2003, to become the WBA's "interim" champion. He was awarded the championship following Roy Jones, Jr.'s announcement that he was relinquishing it to concentrate on lower weight divisions. Ruiz's title reign ended on April 30, 2005, following a loss to James Toney but ten days later, a drug test on Toney detected he had used products containing nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. Thus, Toney's victory was changed to a 'no contest' by New York state athletic commission, and as a result, the WBA declared Ruiz was keeping the title."
-
April 10, 2004
April 1, 2006
flagicon|USA Lamon Brewster
WBO
American
-
April 24, 2004
November 9, 20052
flagicon|UKR Vitali Klitschko
WBC
Ukrainian
-
November 9, 2005
August 13, 2006
flagicon|USA Hasim Rahman
WBC
American
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Rahman defeated Monte Barrett on August 13, 2005, to become the WBC's "interim" champion. He was awarded the championship following Vitali Klitschko's announcement that he was retiring due to injury."
-
December 17, 2005
April 15, 2007
flagicon|RUS Nikolay Valuev
WBA
Russian
-
April 1, 2006
November 4, 2006
flagicon|BLR Sergei Liakhovich
WBO
Belarusian
-
April 22, 2006
February 23, 2008
flagicon|UKR Wladimir Klitschko
IBF
Ukrainian
-
August 13, 2006
March 8, 2008
flagicon|RUS Oleg Maskaev
WBC
Russian
-
colspan="4" style="font-size: smaller;"
:"Maskaev was born in Kazakhstan to Russian parents. He originally held Kazakh citizenship but was granted US citizenship in 2004. In December 2006 he was also granted Russian citizenship. On September 24, 2007, Samuel Peter was declared the WBC's "interim" champion. Peter ultimately defeated Maskaev on March 8, 2008."
-
November 4, 2006
June 2, 2007
flagicon|USA Shannon Briggs
WBO
American
-
April 15, 2007
August 30, 20083
flagicon|UZB Ruslan Chagaev
WBA
Uzbekistani
-
June 2, 2007
February 23, 2008
flagicon|RUS Sultan Ibragimov
WBO
Russian
-
February 23, 2008
present
flagicon|UKR Wladimir Klitschko
IBF & WBO
Ukrainian
-
August 30, 2008
present
flagicon|RUS Nikolay Valuev
WBA
Russian
-
October 11, 2008
present
flagicon|UKR Vitali Klitschko
WBC
Ukranian
-

Footnotes

:1 Relinquished championship title.:2 Retired as champion, relinquishing title.:3 Championship recognition withdrawn by sanctioning organization due to champion's failure or refusal to defend title against the organization's #1 ranked contender.

Sources

* [http://www.geocities.com/Colosseum/Arena/6925/boxing.html Steve Dimitry's Heavyweight Boxing History]
*

See also

* List of current world boxing champions


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