The World Boxing Council, abbreviated to ‘WBC’ is one of four major organizations that sanction world championship boxing fights. It was established on 14 February 1963 in Mexico City by eleven countries: USA, Mexico, England, France, Argentina, Philippines, Peru, Chile, Panama, Venezuela and Brazil upon the invitation of then Mexico president Adolfo Lopez Mateos. This union made the WBC perhaps the first boxing organization to truly capture the all-encompassing international status many of the other organizations didn’t have at the time.
The initial goal was to create an international organization that would manage all boxing committees in the world and to oversee the expansion of boxing across the globe. The primary founders were Mexicans Luis Spota and Ramon G. Velasquez who acted as presidents of the WBC, and Onslow Fane of England along with Justiniano Montano of the Philippines.
Of the five people that have held the post as presidents of the WBC, Dr. Jose Sulaiman Chagnon has been the longest serving. He became president on 5 December 1975 at a convention in Tunisia. Sulaiman is deemed responsible for strengthening the organization as one of the most important ones internationally. While at that time the WBC consisted of 21 affiliated countries, that number has now grown to 166 countries from all over the globe.
The WBC is credited with introducing some of the rules that transformed the sport of boxing:
- The reduction of title fights from, the old style of, 15 rounds to 12.
- Official weigh-ins taking place 24 hours before the fights.
- The creation of many of the current weight divisions.
- The four-rope ring.
- The thumb-attached glove.
- Doping tests after each fight sanctioned by the WBC.
- Annual medical examinations for champions and classified boxers.
- Life and hospitalization insurance for those fighters involved in title fights.
- Retirement plans to support boxers in need throughout the world.
Following the death of Kim Duk-Koo after his fight against Ray Mancini, the WBC reduced the length of its world championship contests from 15 rounds to 12. Other boxing organizations and commission soon followed, with the aim of making boxing safer.
The World Boxing Council is closely affiliated with many boxing organizations operating on a continental level.
- African Boxing Union (ABU)
- Asian Boxing Council (ABCO)
- British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC)
- CIS & Slovenian Boxing Burea (CISBB)
- European Boxing Union (EBU)
- North American Boxing Federation (NABF)
- Central American & Caribbean Boxing Federation (FECARBOX)
- South Continent Boxing Federation (FECONSUR)
- Oriental & Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF)
The WBC awards its champions of all 17 divisions with the recognizable green championship belt. All of the world-title belts look identical regardless of weight division. However, there are variations of the belt for secondary and regional titles within one weight class. The front part of the belt is gold plated and portrays the flags of all countries that are members of the organization.
Initially, the WBC belt was available only for 10 of the weight divisions. Titles in light flyweight, super flyweight, super bantamweight, super middleweight, and cruiserweight were inaugurated in the subsequent decades. The most recent title initiated was the minimumweight division in 1987.
Although primarily rivals, the WBC today has an improved relationship with the other sanctioning bodies. Unification bouts between WBC champions and other organizations’ champions are becoming more and more common. There were times when the WBC would prevent its fighters from having unification fights with other organizations’ champions (although they sometimes made exceptions).
For many years the WBC prevented its champions from holding the WBO belt. If a WBO champion wanted to get a hold of the WBC belt, he or she had to abandon his WBO belt first. However, this was changed in 2004, when they started naming WBO champions in their rankings each month.
Notable boxers throughout history that have been recognized as WBC world champions throughout all the divisions:
- Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Vitali Klitschko
- Tony Bellew, Mairis Briedis
- Roy Jones Jr, Sugar Rey Leonard (also in Welterweight, Middleweight & Super Middleweight), Thomas Hearns (also in Super Welterweight & Middleweight), Bernard Hopkins (also in Middleweight), Andre Ward
- Joe Calzaghe, Nigel Benn
- Julio Cesar Chavez (also in Super Featherweight, Lightweight & Super Lightweight), Marvin Hagler, Carlos Monzon, Rodrigo Valdez, Roberto Duran (also in Lightweight & Welterweight), Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez (also in Super Welterweight)
- Wilfred Benitez (also in Welterweight), Manny Pacquiao (also in Lightweight, Super Featherweight & Flyweight), Floyd Mayweather Jr (also in Welterweight, Super Lightweight, Lightweight & Super Featherweight), Oscar De La Hoya (also in Welterweight & Super Lightweight)
- Felix Trinidad
- Erik Morales (also in Super Featherweight, Featherweight & Super Bantamweight)
- Hector Camacho (also in Super Featherweight), Edwin Rosario, Alexis Arguello
- Wilfredo Gomez (also in Super Bantamweight), Salvador Sanchez, Juan Laporte
Besides the regular WBC title, the organization also awards other types of belts for exceptional achievements by boxers. One is the Emeritus Championship, only bestowed upon present or past WBC world champions. Being an Emeritus Champion in a division means that a boxer can, if he decides to fight for a WBC world title, automatically get a shot at it. An excellent example of this is Vitali Klitschko, who after retiring and vacating his WBC title in 2005, returned in 2008 and immediately got a shot at then-titleholder Samuel Peter. The WBC may designate and recognize one or more Emeritus world champions in each weight class when two-thirds of their Board of Governors vote in favor.
The following boxers have earned the Emeritus Championship appellation throughout their careers: Lennox Lewis, Vitali Klitschko, Roy Jones Jr, Bernard Hopkins (Honorary Champion), Mikkel Kessler, Sergio Gabriel Martínez, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Kostya Tszyu, Manny Pacquiao, Danny García, Érik Morales, Toshiaki Nishioka, Vic Darchinyan, Édgar Sosa and Tony Bellew.
During the WBC’s 51st Convention in Bangkok, Thailand, super welterweight and welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather was declared WBC Supreme Champion to honor his successful career. A unique honor awarded only once in its existence, granted by unanimous decision of all member countries of the WBC.
In September 2009, the WBC created the new Diamond Championship belt. It was established as an honorary championship to award a winner of a historic fight between two high-profile and elite boxers. One such contest was the blockbuster between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. It was first awarded on 14 November 2009, to Manny Pacquiao after his win over Miguel Cotto, which marked his sixth world title in 5 different divisions.
The WBC Eternal Championship is an honorary title awarded to dominant champions that never lost a world title and retired undefeated with a substantial number of title defenses behind them. Vitali Klitschko was recognized as Eternal Champion on December 12, 2016, after having ten successful title defenses during his run as WBC world heavyweight champion.
The WBC has also created a ‘Silver’ world title back in 2010, which acts as a replacement for what was before (and now in the other organizations) the interim title. The difference being that a boxer holding the Silver title cannot inherit the full title in the situation it is vacated by the champion.